CELEBRATION, Fla. — There are legends in the sport of bass fishing and then there is Denny Brauer.
Brauer, the first angler ever featured on a Wheaties cereal box, this week signed up for the groundbreaking CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series — an 11-event circuit debuting in 2006 that will award nearly $7.5 million to the most elite anglers in the world. Coupled with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year program, Bassmaster Majors and other contingencies, Elite Series anglers have the opportunity to cash in on more than $11 million.
Putting his celebrity aside, Brauer's accomplishments have been prodigious; the Camdenton, Mo., resident is the 1998 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion, 1987 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year and has an astounding 15 BASS wins. With the recent submission of his deposit, entry form and Elite Series participation agreement, the bass fishing luminary will compete next year against fellow BASS legends Gary Klein, Paul Elias and Guy Eaker.
"So much of my success has been tied to BASS," said Brauer, who is the all-time BASS money winner. "Both I and my son Chad felt this was the only way to go, fishing the Elite Series.
"I'm always confident in everything I do and this is no different," Brauer continued. "Sure, the entry fees are high, but the upside is huge and I am just tickled to have the opportunity to fish for all that money."
One of eight father-son combos to fish in a CITGO Bassmaster Classic together, both Brauers stressed that the choice to sign up for the Elite Series was an individual business decision, but they now are looking forward to traveling together in 2006.
"It's great to be on the road together and it really limits our expenses," Chad Brauer, 33, said. "Plus, what I really enjoy is competing against my father day in and day out. It is just so much fun."
The Elite Series offers the Brauers and other anglers big payouts, a longer season and smaller fields, something Denny Brauer relishes.
"I feel like I can make a lot of money next year," Brauer, 56, said. "I like fishing against smaller fields and that played into my decision to fish BASS. Also, it's a great opportunity for companies and my sponsors to get increased exposure."
Denny's branding includes major non-endemic sponsor Anheuser-Busch. Also, Brauer represents Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Cabela's Inc., Daiwa Corp., battery charger brand Dual Pro, Strike King Lure Co., Humminbird, and Norwegian fish hook company O. Mustad & Son A.S.