The Southern Swing

By the time you read this, the Bassmaster Elite Series will be in its final stretch. Our four remaining events will be held in the South — Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — on storied waters, including lakes Guntersville, Santee-Cooper, Chickamauga and Fork.

These manmade reservoirs are all renowned for healthy populations of trophy bass, but fall is always a challenge when it comes to catching big bass. Tournament weights are usually highest in the late winter and early spring, but because of the coronavirus and forced postponements in the Elite Series schedule, we’re now going to fish them in the fall. 

Personally, I don’t mind that. In fact, I applaud B.A.S.S. for finding ways to get all these events in. By year’s end, we’ll have had a complete schedule of nine Elite Series tournaments, which is more than any other top-level tour can claim. And the resulting exposure we’re receiving is off the charts. ESPN2, Bassmaster.com and numerous other platforms are putting us in front of millions of fans across North America and beyond. 

That was certainly true throughout the Northern Swing — at the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and Lake St. Clair. Combined, those events received more than 70 hours of airtime on “The Deuce” (ESPN2).

High stakes, low weights 

After such a productive Northern Swing, many of the Elite anglers believe the Southern lakes will pale in comparison. They think this time of year will yield a much lower catch rate, and many have expressed concerns because of it. 

So much is at stake, too. Bassmaster Angler of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles will be decided, as will Bassmaster Classic berths. These events are critical to everyone involved.

Most expect the winning weights to be poor — well below the average of what they would be if held earlier in the year, when they were originally scheduled. That may be true. But the bottom line, as I see it, is that someone is going to win. And I believe it’s going to take some serious weight to do it … at every venue.