Qualifying Spots for 2008 Bassmaster Classic, Elite Series Set

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – After 11 events from California to Florida, the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series season has come to a close and 2008 qualifying spots have been determined for the Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Elite Series.

Heading into the final 2007 event on Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga, a number of anglers were in precarious position in the qualifying races. A total of 36 were able to punch their Classic tickets, while 84 qualified for next year’s Elites.

Anglers qualify based on their ranking in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

South Carolina will be represented by Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., in the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 22-24 out of Greenville. The South Carolina pro will look to repeat the feat of Alabama’s Boyd Duckett, who won the 2007 Classic on Birmingham’s Lay Lake.

“Before the season, a lot of anglers set goals for themselves,” said Ish Monroe, who qualified for his fifth Classic. “At the top of all of these guys’ lists is qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic. It is the biggest event in bass fishing and a huge deal in the sport.”

Joining the 36 Elite qualifiers in the Classic will be six Federation Nation anglers who will qualify via the Federation Nation National Championship (location to be announced); three each from the Bassmaster Southern and Northern Opens; the winner of the Bassmaster Weekend Series Operated by American Bass Anglers Championship and Duckett, who automatically qualifies on the strength of his 2007 Classic victory.

In the case of anglers who qualify through two avenues, BASS will work down the Angler of the Year list to fill the field.

The 84 Elite Series qualifiers will set the majority of next year’s field. Joining them will be the top five points leaders from the Bassmaster Southern and Central Opens. Also, the Bassmaster Elite Series Wild Card Qualifier, set for Florida’s Lake Okeechobee Nov. 29-Dec. 1, will determine 10 qualifying spots. The winner of the Federation Nation Championship also is invited to the Elite Series.

Elite anglers who are in good standing can qualify by using one of three exemptions. Anglers who have participated in 10 or more Bassmaster Classics, won a Bassmaster Classic or won a Bassmaster Angler of the Year title can choose to use one exemption to gain entry into the Elites.

The full list of qualifiers can be found at the Bassmastet website.

To view and download photos of Elite Series anglers, visit www.ESPNOutdoorsmedia.com.

Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Evan Williams Bourbon, Ramada Worldwide and Costa Del Mar.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.