In the midst of a hectic season, the anglers on the Bassmaster Elite Series received some much-welcomed good news late last week.
In their weekly email to the Elite Series field, B.A.S.S. officials announced that all 88 pros will automatically requalify for the 2021 season provided they complete the entire 2020 campaign.
Under the originally established rules, the bottom 10 anglers in the field — based on their average performance the last two years — would have lost their spots on the prestigious trail.
“With everything unfolding the way it has and some things still up in the air from day to day, we just felt like our anglers deserved the right to fish the rest of the season without those added pressures,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “With this measure, they can focus on the things that are most important, namely staying healthy and making the most of their time on the water — and they can do it without worrying about which tour they’ll be fishing next season.”
Like most things in America, the 2020 Elite Series schedule has seen more than its share of cancellations, postponements and reshuffling. A schedule that was supposed to visit Chickamauga in February and Lake Eufaula in April was put on hold in mid-March due to nationwide concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The schedule finally resumed in June with a fantastic event on Eufaula that was won by rookie Buddy Gross from Georgia. But a tournament scheduled this week for New York’s Cayuga Lake — a fishery that wasn’t on the original 2020 Elite Series schedule — was canceled due to hurdles created by the pandemic.
Anglers are now preparing for back-to-back events in New York, on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain. The St. Lawrence event, which was originally scheduled for Waddington, has been moved to Clayton, N.Y., with parts of Lake Ontario now in play.
As they adapt quickly to a changing schedule, anglers can fish with the peace of mind that their spot on next year’s Elite Series is secure.
“As an organization, we’re having to do a lot of things differently to ensure the safety of our anglers, our staff and the people in the communities we’re visiting,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. “Doing this allows our pros to concentrate on the new safety requirements and on catching fish. It’s the right thing to do.”