MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Crowds reached an estimated 7,500 at the inaugural Bassmaster Elite 50 event in Russellville, Ark., peak numbers for any event on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail and second only to attendance at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

"Other than the Classic, that was the most awesome event that BASS has ever put on," said CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle of Hayden, Ala. "I talked to (BASS Tournament Director) Trip (Weldon) and some other folks from BASS and told them that this is the future of the sport. There were so many different age groups and people were everywhere, old people (and) kids and I thought, 'Man, these are the next BASS pros. This is the future of BASS."

Fans can catch a reprise of the event on ESPN2 this Saturday, April 24, at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT. The telecasts will be in two parts, with the conclusion airing Saturday, May 8 on ESPN2 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT.

Even the launches for the four-day event had plenty of fan presence. Autograph seekers would crowd the boats before take-off looking for signatures from their favorite pros.

The later launches and weigh-ins were designed so that people could attend after work and school commitments.

"It definitely surpassed everybody's expectations," said Alabama pro Tim Horton. "That was, short of the Classic, the neatest atmosphere that I have been in for a BASS competition. It was cool in the mornings; because we weren't rushed, fans could watch us get our things ready for the day.

"It'll be interesting to see how Columbus is," Horton added. "I went to college less than an hour from there, but I don't remember what kind of attendance bass tournaments got back then. We'll probably get a good pull from Tuscaloosa. It should be a good turnout."

The Bassmaster Elite 50 series continues May 19-22 on Mississippi's Tennesse-Tombigbee Waterway. Launches will again take place at 10 a.m. with evening weigh-ins at 7 p.m. at the Stennis East Bank: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Columbus Marina

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