BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The field for the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series is set. With 102 top professional anglers from 25 states and Japan, the lineup is the strongest ever and the largest since 2008.
The group contains 11 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Anglers of the Year (21 total titles), 11 Bassmaster Classic champions (17 Classic wins) and more than 200 B.A.S.S. tournament victories.
These anglers will vie for millions in prize money over the course of eight events in seven states covering four rivers, three reservoirs and one natural lake. The season begins on March 14 at the Sabine River Challenge Presented by STARK Cultural Venues in Orange, Texas, and ends in August at the Lake St. Clair Championship out of Detroit, Mich., where the 2013 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year will be crowned and nearly 30 berths in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville will be determined.
“We’re excited about the lineup for the upcoming season,” said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S. “The Elite Series represents the highest level of competition our sport has to offer, and nowhere is that more evident than in the field of anglers who will be competing next year. They tell our members and fans that ‘Elite’ is not just a name — it’s a level of performance and of commitment.”
“Star-studded” might be the best way to describe the 2013 Elite field. It’s led by seven-time Angler of the Year and four-time Classic champion Kevin VanDam. He returns along with the legendary Rick Clunn (the only other four-time Classic champ), Skeet Reese, Michael Iaconelli, Aaron Martens, 2012 Classic winner Chris Lane and last season’s Angler of the Year, Brent Chapman.
Of the 25 states represented, Alabama leads the way with 16 anglers, followed by 13 from Texas and 12 from Oklahoma, site of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees out of Tulsa, Feb. 22-24.
New to the Elite field for 2013 are nine rookies who qualified via the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens: Hank Cherry of North Carolina; Chad Pipkens of Michigan; Jason Christie, James Elam and Chip Porche of Oklahoma; Kevin Hawk and Kelley Jaye of Alabama: and Josh Bertrand and Clifford Pirch of Arizona. One of them will earn the title of 2013 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year.
“Making the leap from the Bassmaster Opens to the Elite Series is one of the biggest and most challenging transitions in all of sport,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. “Our 2013 rookies are an extremely talented group, and they have been winners on just about every other tournament circuit in the country. I think they’re going to challenge our Elite veterans and make for some great competition.”
Also returning to the Elites next season are Kurt Dove (Texas), Byron Haseotes (Massachusetts) and Dennis Tietje (Louisiana). Dove, who last participated in 2008, requalified through the Bassmaster Opens, while Haseotes and Tietje come back from hardship exemptions.
Invitations to compete in the Bassmaster Elite Series are earned by performance in the previous year’s Elite circuit and the Bassmaster Opens.
See the full list of 2013 Elite Anglers on the next page.