The most recent angler to earn a berth in the one-day, $160,000 tournament on a mystery lake was Michigan's Kevin VanDam. With just four days of competition remaining in the season, VanDam's number six spot on the Busch Heavyweight top 10 board is unassailable.
VanDam, who qualified earlier in the season at Alabama's Lake Guntersville with a Busch Heavyweight of 26 pounds and 3 ounces, is thrilled to get the chance to compete for the $100,000 first prize.
"I'm fired up about it," VanDam said. "I know all the guys are really excited about the Busch Shootout, too. The concept is awesome and I'm really happy that the Busch beer guys had the foresight to come up with something like this."
Last week's Bassmaster Elite 50 series event on the Alabama River awarded the Busch Heavyweight to three anglers who had yet to earn the $1,000 award for the biggest catch of a tournament day.
Reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle, 2002 Angler of the Year Davy Hite and Oklahoma's Tommy Biffle took home the honors. While none of the three had the weight to make it into the top 10 contending for the Busch Shootout, none could be unhappy with the $1,000 prize.
"That's a little extra bonus that you aren't expecting," Biffle said. "I like it a lot. I would like to get into (the Shootout). I would like a tournament like that, with the whole mystery lake concept. It ought to be a really interesting tournament."
The next event on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail will be the Bassmaster Elite 50 series finale on the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in Paducah, Ky. At the end of that tournament, all but one of the anglers going to the Busch Shootout will be known; the angler emerging from the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer will be decided July 30-Aug. 1 on ESPN.
The angler with the biggest catch at this summer's Classic in Charlotte, N.C., will join the top 10 Busch Heavyweights from the Bassmaster Tournament Trail, the angler with the heaviest single-day catch from last December's CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship (John Murray) and the angler with the heaviest single-day catch at this year's CITGO BASS Federation Championship (Thad Takes) to compete on a mystery lake.
The Busch Shootout will air on ESPN2, Saturday, Sept. 25 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 CT.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.