Even though there were glitches, the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series season went off without a hitch.
The weather played a major factor as fog, storms and high water threw curveballs at many of the fisheries. The tournament team, led by first-year tournament director Lisa Talmadge, made all the right calls, anglers said. Despite some drastic conditions, the season was held in full and produced high drama.
A new TV contract with FOX Sports helped broaden the audience of bass fishing, a sport that was experiencing an influx of new anglers because of the pandemic. The inherent drama of big catches and big misses unfolded on Bassmaster LIVE to record viewers.
Seven of the nine winners were first-time Elite Series champions, starting with the opener on the St. Johns River. Bryan New started the season with a bang in winning his first Elite, repeating his feat from the previous year when he won in his first Basspro.com Open.
Jeff Gustafson went wire-to-wire to become the second Canadian to win an Elite. Bill Lowen, who has fished the series since its inception in 2006, broke through for his first title, and Jason Christie was victorious in his return to the series.
Wes Logan scored an emotional win on his home water, Caleb Kuphall rolled to a title by the second-greatest margin, Bryan Schmitt scored a last-second win on his favorite lake and Japanese angler Taku Ito had a monster day in a tight leaderboard.
In the Classic, Hank Cherry reached legendary status as he repeated, becoming the fourth back-to-back winner and the seventh angler with more than one championship.
Seth Feider completed a dream season with four Top 10s and no finishes worse than 29th to become the 26th man to win Bassmaster Angler of the Year, while Josh Stracner climbed over four other anglers in the final event to take Rookie of the Year.
All were certainly memorable, but Lee Livesay’s final day on Lake Fork was perhaps the most momentous of the season. With 42 pounds, 3 ounces, Livesay recorded the third-best day in B.A.S.S. history to win on his home lake with 112-5.
Let’s look back at the five-month, seven-day season that seemed short in comparison to 2020’s COVID-delayed season that ran nine months, three days.