TULSA, Okla. — The heroes of the Bassmaster Elite Series, the best collegiate anglers in the nation, top amateurs from B.A.S.S.’s grass roots and professionals looking for their last chance to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic now know the route to their dreams, as B.A.S.S. revealed the sites of four 2013 championships.
Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO, announced the tournament locations in a press conference Thursday during Bassmaster Classic Week in Tulsa.
· The third annual Toyota All-Star Week heads for Muskegon, Mich., and Muskegon Lake, Sept. 27-29.
· The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship moves to Chatuge Reservoir and Young Harris College in Young Harris, Ga., Aug. 1-3.
· The Bassmaster Wild Card event, which offers top-level pros an additional chance to qualify for the Classic, will be held on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, Dec. 5-7.
· And amateurs from around the nation and the world will gather at Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Oct. 24-26.
“These are four great fisheries that will test the skills of the best anglers from each of our bass fishing tournament trails,” said Akin. “Fans who want to see outstanding fishing action will want to attend or at least follow these events through Bassmaster.com and our other media.”
The format for Toyota All-Star Week will change slightly from previous years as the field expands from 12 to 14 anglers who will vie for a piece of a $100,000 payout in a no-entry-fee, star-studded competition on Muskegon Lake.
The 2013 Bassmaster Classic champion and Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year will join the Top 8 anglers in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points and the Top 4 vote-getters in an online fan vote in the third annual All-Star competition. All 14 anglers will compete on the first two days, Sept. 27-28, and their combined tournament weights will be used to determine the Top 4, who will advance to the final round. The winner will earn $50,000, and all 13 other competitors will take home paychecks.
“All-Star Week has been a great success,” Akin added, “and the refinements we’re making this year should make it even better. By adding the Classic champion and Rookie of the Year to the mix, we’re not just enhancing the competition, but also bringing out the anglers the fans most want to see. It’s going to be a tremendous event.”
Muskegon will also play a role in determining the lone Classic qualifier from collegiate competition. After the winning team is crowned in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship Aug. 1-3, members of the Top 4 teams will head to Muskegon during All-Star Week and compete individually to determine which angler earns the right to fish against the pros in the 2014 Classic. College finalists will weigh in on the same stage as the All-Stars.
Teams competing on behalf of their schools in the Carhartt College Championship will weigh their catches on the campus of Young Harris College.
“We’re excited to announce the site and format for the 2013 National Championship,” said Hank Weldon, College Series manager. “It will be the first time for the championship event to be held outside Arkansas, and it promises to be the biggest in the history of the series.”
Young Harris College President Cathy Cox said, “We are pleased to host this national collegiate tournament and to have bass fishing teams from all over the country visit our campus in the beautiful north Georgia mountains. YHC’s bass fishing program is a huge asset to our community, and I am so proud of our team that continues to grow and thrive as they compete locally, regionally and nationally.”
For the first time in history, anglers competing in the Elite Series and the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens who did not earn spots in the upcoming Bassmaster Classic will have a special tournament through which they can claim a berth. The Bassmaster Classic Wild Card tournament will take place on Lake Okeechobee — one of the hottest bass lakes in the world — and will be hosted by the Okeechobee Tourist Development Council.
The tournament field will be limited to 175 anglers, and priority entry will be given first to Elite anglers and then to Opens pros who fished at least three Opens. The entry fee will be $2,000, and the full field will compete for the first two days. After the second round, all but the Top 12 anglers will be eliminated.
First prize will be the final berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, Feb. 21-23. Cash prizes will go to anglers finishing second through 30th.
And the 26th annual B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, to be held on Lake Dardanelle near Russellville, Ark., is being hosted by the Russellville Advertising and Promotions Commission, Oct. 24-26. Six Bassmaster Classic berths will be at stake — one for each B.A.S.S. Nation Division.
Since its inception in 1973, the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship has sent 181 anglers to the Classic from 44 states and three foreign countries. In 1994, 23-year-old Connecticut angler Bryan Kerchal stunned and thrilled the bass fishing world by beating the best professionals in the sport and winning the Classic as an amateur.