The BFL celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2004 with a $345,000 All-American purse. By boosting its overall purse from $6.3 million to $8.4 million for 2005, the league is offering the nation’s bass anglers more opportunity than ever before. BFL competitors who qualify for the 2006 All-American (during the 2005 season) will fish for a share of $1 million, with as much as $140,000 going to the winning boater, up from $100,000 in 2004. This increase includes a guaranteed award of $100,000 plus a Ranger contingency bonus of $20,000 and an Evinrude or Yamaha contingency bonus of $20,000. Co-angler qualifiers also benefit from new contingency bonuses, as the winner’s share at the All-American will increase from $50,000 to a potential $70,000. This includes a guaranteed award of $50,000 plus a Ranger contingency bonus of $10,000 and an Evinrude or Yamaha contingency bonus of $10,000.
In the Boater Division, second place in the All-American pays $25,000 plus $25,000 in contingency bonuses and third place pays $14,000 plus $18,000 in contingency bonuses. In the Co-angler Division, second place pays $15,000 plus $6,500 in bonuses and third place pays $7,000 plus $5,000 in bonuses. These unique opportunities in a no-entry-fee championship, along with the addition of four new divisions and increased payouts throughout the regular season and regionals, are sure to please tournament anglers nationwide.
New divisions slated for 2005 are the Everglades Division to accommodate overwhelming demand in Florida, the Empire Division in New York, the Dixie Division in Alabama and the North Carolina Division. Overall, BFL anglers will have 28 divisions to choose from when planning their run to the All-American.
Each division features four one-day tournaments and a two-day Super Tournament. The purse for each one-day tournament in all divisions will increase from $32,850 to $39,000 based on full fields while the payout at each Super Tournament is $70,950. With the increased purse, boaters will fish for a top award of as much as $5,500 in each one-day event and $8,400 in each Super Tournament. Co-anglers will chase top awards of as much as $2,750 and $4,200, respectively. Ten additional places will be paid in all tournaments as well, with 40 places paid in each one-day tournament and 50 places paid in each Super Tournament.
Ranger Boats will award an additional $1,000 to winning boaters if they participate in the Ranger Cup incentive program or $500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant at each BFL event in 2005.
A new no-entry-fee regional will be added to the seven existing regionals, which means 48 boaters and 48 co-anglers will qualify for the All-American during the 2005 season versus 42 boaters and 42 co-anglers from the 2004 season. Purses for each regional event also received a boost from $93,000 to $110,000, including a new Ranger boat and a new truck for the winning boater and a new Ranger boat for the winning co-angler.
Anglers who finish in the top 40 in year-end points standings within a division will advance to one of seven regionals, where they will compete for one of six slots in the 2006 All-American. Anglers who enter all five tournaments within a division but do not advance to regional competition are eligible to fish the Wild Card regional, which will also send six boaters and six co-anglers to the All-American. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points, with 200 points going to the winner, 199 for second, 198 for third, and so on except for Super Tournaments, where 300 points are awarded to the winner, 299 for second, 298 for third, and so on. These points determine angler standings.
“Our company was built on providing quality fishing opportunities for the nation’s weekend bass anglers,” said Charlie Hoover, president and chief executive officer for FLW Outdoors. “We listen to the marketplace and constantly strive to meet the wants and needs of the nation’s tournament anglers. Elevating our BFL program from $6.3 million to $8.4 million over 149 events in 28 divisions shows how committed we are to continuing our legacy of leadership in providing grassroots fishing opportunities.”
Field sizes remain the same for 2005, with 200 boaters and 200 co-anglers comprising a full field, and entry fees will increase slightly. Boater entry fees will increase from $150 to $200 for one-day events and remain at $300 for Super Tournaments. Co-angler entry fees will increase from $75 to $100 for one-day tournaments and remain at $150 for Super Tournaments.
In the BFL’s boater and co-angler format, the boater supplies the boat, controls boat movement and competes against other boaters. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.
Established in 1980, the BFL is widely credited with opening competitive bass fishing to the masses. It also serves as a steppingstone for anglers who wish to advance to the EverStart Series and ultimately the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. Each year the top 30 BFL boaters and co-anglers from each division are eligible to advance to the EverStart Series. All-American champions are eligible for FLW Tour competition. The top 10 pros and co-anglers from each EverStart Series division are eligible to advance to the FLW Tour. Former BFL anglers who have become fishing superstars on the FLW Tour include Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt, the legendary Rick Clunn and four-time FLW Tour champion David Fritts.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.
The complete 2005 BFL tournament schedule will be available at FLWOutdoors.com later this year. Entries may be submitted online or by calling (270) 252-1000.