The pros on their way up will find the new CITGO Bassmaster Northern and Southern Tours to be a far better venue for earning money and building a career in this sport. With five tournaments in each division, a pro can enjoy 10 chances at the $75,000 top prize (up from $50,000 in the Opens) and a piece of an overall payout totaling more than $3 million.
“This is not just another name for the Opens,” BASS tournament director Trip Weldon said. “We think we’ve really improved things.
“For one thing, the payouts are improved. And for the non-boaters, we dropped the entry fee to $350. One good thing about it is the Tour anglers can fish both Tours if they want to. It starts in the south, runs four events, have one northern, another southern and then four in the north.
Weldon added that the Tours will be covered in BASS publications, on Bassmaster.com and highlights may appear on BassCenter on ESPN2.
The Tours, which have a $1,500 pro entry fee, will send six anglers to the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic (three from each division). In addition, 10 pros from each division qualify for the Elite Series.
“It will be the feeder system for the Elites,” Weldon said. “Right now, we’re in a transition year for Elite qualifications. By the way, we’re extremely pleased with the entries in the Elite Series so far. Having said that, when you look at 2007, there are only two ways to get into the Elite Series. That’s through the Tours or those Elite anglers re-qualifying.”
A GOOD CAUSE. Some of the top BASS pros will be in Kissimmee, Fla., this week fishing for a great cause, the Angling Against Cancer charity tournament benefiting the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
The pros include Michael Iaconelli, Steve Daniel, Chuck Economou, Charlie Howser, Tim Horton, Elton Luce, Jr., Aaron Martens, Glenn Browne, Scott Martin, Bernie Schultz, Terry Scroggins, Preston Clarke, Peter Thliveros, David Walker, Kevin Wirth and Charlie Youngers.
The event features a dinner, auction, concert, fishing tournament and the chance for fans to rub elbows with some of the country’s top pro anglers.
Iaconelli raises money for the charity through his “Anglers Pounding Out Cures” program. He donates $2 for every pound of fish he catches in BASS tournaments and then encourages companies to match the donation. With the matches, his 311 pounds this year already has raised about $5,000, but Iaconelli is still asking more companies to participate before he gives the charity his check at Angling Against Cancer weigh-in on Sunday, Nov. 13.
“Public service should be a huge part of any growing sport,” Iaconelli said. The New Jersey pro’s uncle, Don Fort, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001 and has since been in remission. “The Don,” as he is known to other anglers, now travels with his nephew to tournaments.
NEW PRODUCTS. BASS sponsors are not resting on their considerable laurels, judging by some impressive new products recently announced.
Triton Boats has unveiled its impressive new Tr-21XD PD/PDC XD Series model, a totally new bass boat designed to handle the most extreme conditions. The company says the Tr-21 XD fills a niche that no other bass boat addresses — tournament-level fishability on the biggest, roughest bodies of water. Big-water anglers from the Great Lakes to Lake Okeechobee are sure to appreciate this innovative boat that combines Triton’s proven deep-vee saltwater hull with its tournament-friendly X-Series deck, higher sides and a 25-inch transom. For more information, visit www.tritonboats.com.
Lowrance Electronics has picked up new editor’s choice awards from Laptop Magazine and PC Magazine for its amazing iWay 500C. The iWay is an incredibly affordable, portable turn-by-turn GPS car navigational unit with MP3 player and picture viewer. For more information, visit www.lowrance.com.
New from MotorGuide, the company that invented the trolling motor, is its Digital Wireless Advantage Series of bow-mount trolling motors. The wireless advantage provides freedom to make trolling motor steering adjustments from anywhere in the boat. That means freedom to concentrate on fishing, not boat positioning, because electric steer motors don’t have foot-off-the-pedal wandering that can plague mechanical cable systems.
Also new from MotorGuide is its Gator Flex 360 mount, which features a unique, patent-pending, Flex Isolator that acts as an energy-absorbing shock joint that soaks up underwater abuse to a trolling motor’s shaft and lower unit from every direction — not just straight on like other breakaway systems. And since the Flex Isolator automatically returns the motor back to its vertical run position after hitting an object, there’s no more stopping to re-position the shaft manually. For more information, visit www.motorguide.com.
DID YOU KNOW? Can you name the angler who has been the leader most often in the Classic? Easy answer — Rick Clunn, the four-time winner, was the leader in nine rounds.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Missouri pro Tim Sainato turns 45 on Nov. 10 and North Carolina’s Guy Eaker becomes 66 on Nov. 23.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet would likely still be working as a loan officer at a bank in Ardmore, Okla.
THEY SAID IT. “It’s probably just desire. I’ve still got that competitive spirit. I enjoy what I’m doing. If I didn’t enjoy tournament fishing, enjoy being out there working hard at it, I probably wouldn’t do it. The sport has been very, very successful for me. Fortunately, I am in a position to walk away from it if I wanted to. But I don’t want to do that. This is too much fun. All my friends are out there on the tournament trail. It’s a good time out there competing against some real quality people. Why walk away from something you really enjoy?” Former Classic champion Denny Brauer, an Elite Series pro, on what keeps him motivated.
News exclusives, audio and video clips of bass fishing's biggest stars, loads of discounts and more are all part of BASS Insider, an exclusive membership, now available at www.bassmaster.com.
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 or visit www.bassmaster.com.