The 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Southern Tour, kicking off on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee on Jan. 26-28, and the 2006 Northern Tour, starting on Kentucky Lake in Kentucky on June 22-24, will offer anglers a variety of enhanced benefits.
“We believe the Tours will offer anglers and co-anglers some excellent opportunities,” said Trip Weldon, tournament director. “The schedule is just fantastic and we’re getting new and experienced anglers signing up daily.”
That schedule includes Southern Tour stops on Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina (April 6-8) and Lake Eufaula in Alabama (May 11-13). The Northern Tour will go to Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia (Oct. 26-28) and the Mississippi River in Iowa (July 20-22).
“I love the Southern Tour schedule,” said South Carolina pro Mike Delvisco. “I like the increased payouts and the whole schedule should provide us with some great fishing opportunities.”
Because the Tours don’t overlap one another, anglers can fish both five-event trails. Both Tours mirror each other in nearly every aspect- including qualification requirements and structure. Additionally, point standings – which determine which anglers receive invitations to fish the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series – will only reflect an angler’s top four finishes, allowing the lowest score to be dropped.
“It’s easier to bounce back this year if you have a bad tournament,” said Delvisco, 41, who will show off a boat and truck wrap on both Tours, compliments of the Louisville, Ky.-based restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse. “I really like the fact that the Tours will feature more events this year.”
Although the Tours schedule provides BASS mainstays – including Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and Louisiana’s Toledo Bend (March 2-4) – anglers are most excited about a fishery that hasn’t appeared on the BASS schedule since 1995.
“I’m looking forward to all of the Tours events, but Lake Lanier (Gainesville, Ga.; Sept. 7-9) really sticks out to me,” Delvisco said. “It’s going to be a great event with some really good-sized fish weighed in.”
Those anglers who do not perform well-enough to berth into the Elite Series but finish in sixth through 25th place be invited to a wildcard tournament for remaining Elite Series spots.
“I love what ESPN and BASS are doing with the sport,” said Alabama pro Boyd Duckett, who will fish both Tours. “I’m hoping to get qualified for the Elite Series and the Tours are the way to do that.”
Dow Cox is an angler who knows how to climb up the ranks. With his second-place finish on the co-angler side in the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship on the Alabama River in early December, Cox qualified for the 2006 Tours as a professional angler.
Although fishing from the front of the boat will be new for Cox - he has largely fished as a co-angler throughout his career - he believes the experience is invaluable.
“I think fishing as a co-angler dramatically cuts down on the learning curve,” said Cox, of Tennessee. “You get to fish with a lot of different people and learn a lot of new techniques and see a variety of water. I feel better for the experience.”
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation 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 CITGO 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 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, visit www.bassmaster.com or call 1-800-BASS-USA.