TOLEDO BEND TO HOST INAUGURAL CITGO BASSMASTER OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In December, for the first time ever, the best anglers on the CITGO Bassmaster Open Tournament Trail will compete against one another in a championship. BASS officials announced today that the inaugural event will be Dec. 4-7 on Toledo Bend Reservoir in Many, La.

The top 20 boaters and non-boaters from each of the four Open Divisions will square off in the no-entry-fee event, whose winner will earn a berth in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer, as well as a $10,000 prize purse and free entry into the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer.

"Toledo Bend is one of the great fisheries in the country," said BASS Tournament Director Trip Weldon. "It will be a fantastic venue for the inaugural CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship.

"The facilities at Cypress Bend are second to none. Geographically, this fits perfectly for our championship and serves all four of our coast-to-coast divisions."

Dean Kessel, Vice President and General Manager of BASS, is expecting a nothing but a terrific tournament. "I can't say enough about Toledo Bend. It's a great fishery as well as a perfect town to hold an Open Championship. We are very excited about this event."

Homer Humphries, a Louisiana native and frequent fisher of Toledo Bend is excited to hear it's coming as well.

"It's going to be wild!" said Humphries. "The lake's going to be down and the fishing's going to be good. It will be great to be home.

"It'll be great for the community, too. The town of Toledo needs a shot in the arm and this news will excite a lot of people."

"The Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana, welcomes the opportunity to host a CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship on Toledo Bend Reservoir," said Jim Pratt, Deputy Director of the Sabine River Authority. "This event affords us the opportunity to showcase Toledo Bend Reservoir's magnificent strength as a freshwater fishery, plus the diverse recreational and cultural amenities the area and state have to offer.

"Such an event would not be possible without the cooperative team effort demonstrated by the Sabine River Authority Board of Commissioners, Sabine Parish Tourist Commission and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco."

The tournament will put 80 boats in the water for the first two days, then will cut to the top 12 boaters and non-boaters on Saturday, cutting to the Super Six boaters on Sunday. The total prize purse for both boaters and non-boaters is $290,850. The top five boaters will all receive $10,000 and entry onto the CITGO Bassmaster Tour.

Take off will be daily at 6:45 a.m. and weigh-ins will start at 3:00 p.m.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer 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, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Progressive Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, and BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning and G3 Boats.

Local Sponsors include Savine River Authority, State of Louisiana.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit http://www.bassmaster.com.