While the season's top 12 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are locked in rod-to-rod combat for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, fans will be treated to a postseason festival that promises plenty of entertainment options.
The postseason begins July 24-25 with the Ramada Trophy Chase on Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka, Ala. Free and open to the public, weigh-ins will be at 5 p.m. CT at the Wetumpka Civic Center.
The competition continues July 30-31 on the Alabama River with the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph in Montgomery, Ala. The free weigh-ins will be at 6 p.m. CT at the Riverwalk Amphitheater in downtown Montgomery.
The fish and the anglers will be the biggest fan attractions, but the entertainment doesn't stop there. A full list of free activities is available at Bassmaster.com. Highlights include:
July 26 at 4 p.m. CT, at the Bass Pro Shops in Prattville, Ala., fans can meet the 12 qualifiers.
July 30 Military Appreciation Day offers a free gift to those who show their military ID at the BASS booth
July 30 free concert by Jason Michael Carroll immediately after the weigh-in.
July 31 Evan Williams Bourbon BBQ Cook-Off
July 31 free concert by Lifehouse, right after the new Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year is crowned.
Mike McClelland might be sticking with his Hefty One-Zip boat wrap for the 2011 season.
"We're in negotiations to make it an extended contract for next season," said the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Bella Vista, Ark. "It's caught on so well. There's so many products that Hefty One-Zip company already makes anglers can and do use. The potential is there for new-product development."
McClelland is well-known in the fishing industry for his ability to attract and secure non-endemic sponsorships. In June 2008, he was the first Elite pro to tie up a tournament-specific wrap when he landed a Tahoe Smokeless wrap for an Elite event on Kentucky Lake.
Many people, including seasoned pros, ask McClelland how he attracts sponsors who know little or nothing about pro fishing.
"It really comes down to relationships," he said. "Cold calls to a non-endemic company are very tough to make work."
He said his initial contact with Hefty came through his son and a mutual friend.
"After I opened up my thought process as to how I could promote Hefty One-Zip products, it all started coming together," he said.
While McClelland has a knack for seeing potential in non-endemics, he also knows how to work for and with his endemic sponsors. Champion Boats and Falcon Rods are still with him, and on his wrap. He recently developed a premium signature stickbait with SPRO, the McStick.
He plans to run the Hefty One-Zip wrap while he fishes out 2010, including the Bassmaster Northern Open circuit. The season begins July 22 on Lake Champlain and continues in August on the Detroit River and into September with the finale on the Chesapeake Bay.
He had hoped to showcase the wrap at the Elite Postseason, the July 24-31 Toyota Tundra Championship Week in Alabama. While he finished the regular season at No. 15 Â more than good enough for a 2011 Bassmaster Classic qualification he was three places short of a postseason entry. That's when he turned his attention to the Opens.
"After looking at the facts that the Elite season was over and I didn't make the top 12, I feel like I want more opportunities to fish tournaments," said the six-time Bassmaster event winner. "I'm a professional angler, I want to go out and compete."
A most unusual campaign is happening right now at Bassmaster.com through July 25.
What makes the Toyota Tundra Fan Favorite Contest a different sort of election is that voters can win, too. They're eligible to cast a ballot once a day for one of 12 candidates, and each vote is an entry in a sweepstakes for a grand prize.
The 12 candidates are the qualifiers for the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason, the July 24-31 competition that will determine the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
The pros will have to compete on two Alabama fisheries for the $200,000 prize, but only the fans can elect the Toyota Tundra Fan Favorite. To win fan votes, each pro lays out his platform in a short Bassmaster.com video. After viewing the clips, fans can vote once daily, and each entry is another chance to win a Nitro Z-7 boat with a Mercury 150 Optimax engine.
The winner will be revealed July 30 at the postseason's final leg in Montgomery, Ala., the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph.
Besides the grand prize, voters are eligible to win daily prizes: a $100 Bass Pro Shops gift card, Berkley Gulp! Alive! Lures, and Berkley Trilene TransOptic line.
A week ago, BASS Reporter's Notebook presented 2011 Bassmaster Classic facts along with and notes on the 37 qualifiers who emerged from the Bassmaster Elite Series. Below are more tidbits about the Elite pros headed to Louisiana for the Feb. 18-20 Classic on the Louisiana Delta.
The veteran. Texan Gary Klein, qualifying at No. 9, will make his 29th Classic appearance. That's an astounding number of Classic qualifications, but not as many as the record-holder, Rick Clunn, who has racked up 32. (Clunn didn't qualify, via the Elites, for the 2011 Classic.)
The rookies. Three are first-time Classic competitors: Morizo Shimizu of Japan, No. 18 on the list; Jason Williamson of South Carolina, No. 29; and Greg Vinson of Alabama, No. 30.
Bro vs. bro (in-law). Two qualifiers are related by marriage: Edwin Evers (No. 2) is married to the sister of Terry Butcher (No. 5). The brothers-in-law will compete against each other in the Postseason as well as in the Classic.
Local fave. So far, Greg Hackney is the sole Classic qualifier from Louisiana. A native of Arkansas, Hackney has lived in Gonzales, La., long enough to know the competition waters and thus be considered a home-state favorite.
I like Ike. Fans also are likely to tag New Jersey's Michael Iaconelli as a favorite because he was the winner the last time the Classic was in New Orleans. That was in 2003, when Iaconelli lugged in 37 pounds, 14 ounces, over three days. But that was in early August, and the game on the Louisiana Delta is likely to be different in February.