B.A.S.S. taking steps to keep St. Lawrence Elite safe

The 86 anglers taking part in this week’s SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River arrived in New York over the weekend and have spent the last three days practicing for the trail’s third event of the season.

Now on the eve of the tournament, one question lingers:

How will B.A.S.S. pull off an event of this magnitude amidst the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

It’s a question that can’t be answered simply or quickly.

“A lot of people have worked tirelessly for weeks to even make this event possible,” said Elite Series Site Coordinator Eric Lopez. “The people of Jefferson County, N.Y., have been amazing. They’ve asked all the right questions — and when we didn’t have an answer, we worked closely with them to find one.

“I’m sure most fans have heard about other professional leagues like the NBA and MLB ‘creating a bubble’ to remain safe during the pandemic. That’s basically what we’ve done, using the same precautions that are being used by the Yankees or the Mets or the U.S. Open tennis tournament here in New York.”

Though competition week began Sunday with the first of 3 1/2 official practice days, the actual tournament is set for this Thursday through Sunday. Takeoffs each morning will be at 6:45 a.m. ET from the Clayton Antique Boat Museum and weigh-ins will be back at the museum each afternoon at 3 p.m.

Competitors will take special precautions during all phases of the tournament, beginning each day before they even launch their boats. A new partnership between B.A.S.S. and CrewMinders will allow all anglers and event staff to complete daily health screenings via a simple safety check platform.

Then when the tournament begins, a variety of safety measures will be in place.

The photos you’ve seen of Bassmaster Marshals riding in boats with Elite Series pros? Don’t expect to see those for this event, as marshals will not participate. Anglers will fish alone all four days unless they have a cameraman in their boats.

The crowd of yellow-shirted volunteers who usually carry bass backstage from the weigh-in platform to the live-release boat also won’t be present. As they did back in June during the Elite Series event on Lake Eufaula, anglers will carry their fish to the release boat themselves.

Another change will be much shorter weigh-in lines, with only one angler waiting at each tank while others wait in their boats. Everyone on the weigh-in stage will be required to wear a face covering, and a safe distance will be maintained between the anglers, Tournament Director Trip Weldon and Bassmaster Emcee Dave Mercer. 

“We followed a lot of these same procedures during our event at Lake Eufaula in June, and they worked very well,” Weldon said. “It’s a lot different than our typical weigh-in. But this is a very different situation, and we’re certainly sensitive to that.” 

Another major difference will be the absence of weigh-in spectators. 

New York events held on the St. Lawrence River have produced some of the biggest crowds in Elite Series history. But with large gatherings deemed unsafe during the pandemic, fencing will be placed around the weigh-in stage and the stage itself will be turned facing the water to avoid any passers-by who might feel the urge to congregate and watch from outside the fence.

That doesn’t mean fans won’t be able to catch the action.

As always, Bassmaster LIVE will air on Bassmaster.com and the ESPN app all four days of the event. For only the second time ever, 26 hours of live coverage will also be simulcast on ESPN2. 

Live coverage debuted on ESPN2 during the Eufaula Elite Series tournament and drew more than 2.8 million viewers. See below for a complete schedule of Bassmaster Live programming and ESPN2 programming times.

Daily weigh-ins will be carried live on Bassmaster.com.

“Fans have been — and always will be — a gigantic part of B.A.S.S. events,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Unfortunately, it’s just not safe right now to have an on-site crowd for this event. But with so much live coverage through so many platforms, fans can still have a great experience with this event.”

Scott Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said this week’s safety plan was crafted according to guidelines set by the state. 

“It is a pleasure for Jefferson County to host the Bassmaster Elite Series in our river and lake communities,” he said. “We have worked closely with officials from B.A.S.S. to ensure the safety of all — anglers, staff and the community — and we are strictly adhering to New York State-issued guidance for professional sporting events and travel guidance for professional sports.

“This will be a model for safety performance by B.A.S.S. and Jefferson County, and we wish the anglers much success fishing our scenic region’s waters.”

Click to view the guidelines for professional sporting events in New York.

Upcoming Bassmaster LIVE Schedule (All Times Subject to Change)

Date

Time (ET)

Event

Networks

Thu, July 23

8 a.m.-12 p.m.

SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River

ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

 

8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River

ESPN2

 

1-3 p.m.

SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River

ESPN2, ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

Fri, July 24

8 a.m.-3 p.m.

SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River

ESPN2, ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

Sat, July 25

8 a.m.-3 p.m.

SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River

ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

 

8 a.m.-3 p.m.

SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence

ESPN2

Sun, July 26

7 a.m.-2 p.m.

SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River

ESPN2, ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

Thu, July 30

8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain

ESPN2, ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

Fri, July 31

8-11 a.m.

Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain

ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

 

12-3 p.m.

Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain

ESPN2, ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

Sat, Aug. 1

8-11 a.m.

Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain

ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

 

12-3 p.m.

Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain

ESPN2, ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

Sun, Aug. 2

8-11 a.m.

Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain

ESPN3, Bassmaster.com

 

12-3 p.m.

Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain

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