And shortly after the secret came out, surprise followed in its wake.
The 13 Busch Shootout contenders flew to Richmond, Va., Thursday and then traveled to historic Williamsburg, where they’ll compete on the James River for the $100,000 top prize in the unique tournament. The event will be telecast Saturday, Nov. 6 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
In a move reminiscent of the early days of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer, anglers weren’t told the whereabouts of the Busch Shootout until they arrived in Virginia on Thursday.
And after learning the Shootout’s location, many of them expressed total astonishment.
“I never figured we’d be going to the James River,” Arkansas pro George Cochran said. “They were trying to surprise us, and they sure did that.”
Many contenders had speculated the tournament would be held on a body of water known for producing giant bass, such as one of the heralded bass lakes in California or Florida. Though the James River is a quality fishery that has played host to five previous BASS events, including three consecutive Classics from 1988 to 1990, it isn’t usually lauded as a producer of big fish.
Anglers will be hosted by the Anheuser-Busch-owned Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va.
“We’re excited about hosting the inaugural Busch Shootout anglers at Anheuser-Busch’s Kingsmill Resort & Spa,” said Danny Scott, director of tactical brands, Anheuser-Busch Inc. “This event is great for the sport of bass fishing and the Busch beer brand.”
The site wasn’t the only surprise that tournament officials had in store for the 13 Busch Shootout contenders.
Instead of fishing for one day, as Busch and BASS officials had previously announced, anglers learned Thursday that they’ll fish half a day on Friday, carrying over their weights to Saturday morning.
On Saturday, all 13 anglers will fish for half a day, and then a weigh-in will be held to trim the field to the top six, who will fish Saturday afternoon for the $100,000 grand prize.
BASS and Busch officials said the change in format was necessary due to the shorter duration of daylight this time of year. The tournament originally was scheduled for Sept. 18 but was postponed when Hurricane Ivan affected weather throughout the eastern U.S.
Busch Shootout anglers are Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas; Mark Rogers of Naples, Fla.; George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark.; Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Mo.; David Wharton of Sam Rayburn, Texas; Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Jason Quinn of Lake Wylie, S.C.; Bink Desaro of Boise, Idaho; Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Mo.; Ben Matsubu of Hemphill, Texas; John Murray of Phoenix, Ariz.; Thad Takes of Center Point, Iowa; and Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas.
They qualified by catching the heaviest single-day catch at various BASS events during the 2003-2004 season.
Friday’s weigh-in will be held at Kingsmill Marina at 1 p.m. Eastern.
For additional information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375.