CELEBRATION, Fla. — It would be easy for Dave Wolak to rest on his laurels after an ultra-successful rookie season on the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour. But Wolak — who captured the Toyota Rookie of the Year award and finished in fourth place in the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings — said the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series has raised the stakes in professional bass fishing and he's ready for another year of fierce competition.
"It's like being at a race and hearing the starting gun fired and not being there for the start," Wolak said, referring to anglers who missed the Elite Series registration deadline and now are on a waiting list. "Some people are really missing out."
What will those anglers miss? To begin with, more than $11 million is up for grabs in 2006 in the Elite Series, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the Bassmaster Majors, the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year program and other contingencies.
But Wolak said just as important is the exposure BASS/ESPN Outdoors offers anglers through its Web sites, publications and television programming. "I think the overall amount of exposure and dedication by BASS and ESPN is phenomenal," said Wolak, 29. "With the Classic coverage, the Majors coverage and the programming blocks devoted to bass fishing, the opportunities are just endless."
To that end, Wolak is negotiating a major sponsorship deal with a company that will wrap his boat and truck. Although he couldn't divulge details, Wolak is optimistic he will have a completed agreement by the holidays. "To get a significant sponsor at such a young age that will allow me to fish professionally is a testament to the positive direction BASS is headed in," said Wolak, who already is sponsored by Ranger Boats and Yamaha Motor Corp.
Although Wolak has experienced a great deal of success in his fledgling career already, he vows to improve on his 2005 stellar performance. "I am looking to improve in every aspect next year," Wolak said. "I want to build more credibility and steam through consistent performance."
Wolak joins a truly premier class of anglers who have signed up for the Elite Series, including nine CITGO Bassmaster Anglers of the Year representing 14 titles and eight CITGO Bassmaster Classic champions representing 12 titles.