Elite pros angle to earn fan votes for All-Star week

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Four Bassmaster Elite Series pros are counting on fans’ votes to get them into Toyota All-Star Week and Evan Williams Bourbon Championship, a special bracket-style competition that takes place Sept. 27-29 on Michigan’s Muskegon Lake.

Toyota All-Star Week and Evan Williams Bourbon Championship pays out $100,000, with the winner taking home a check for $50,000.

Of the 14 anglers in the bracket, 10 are already set in stone based on performance throughout the 2013 season. The winner of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, Cliff Pace, automatically receives a berth in All-Star Week, as does the 2013 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year and the Top 8 anglers from the 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.

The other four are up to the fans.

The pros who don’t qualify for one of the 10 spots already spoken for are vying for fans’ votes in the Toyota All-Star Fan Favorite Angler Sweepstakes at Bassmaster.com/vote.

Some pros are offering to donate all or a portion of their winnings if their fans vote them in. Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., is among them. If he is one of the four fan favorites, Christie, who has amassed $250,000 in B.A.S.S. winnings and who won the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Ramada Quest in Arkansas earlier this year, will contribute 100 percent of his All-Star winnings to the nonprofit Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., who won the 2012 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, is offering to donate 20 percent of his winnings. He’ll give 10 percent to an organization that funds Alzheimer’s research and another 10 percent to Tackle the Storm Foundation, a nonprofit that gives fishing tackle to children affected by tragedy, such as those who live in tornado disaster areas. If voted in, Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., will donate 10 percent of his winnings to King’s Home, which assists women and children who are facing difficult circumstances, and Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., will donate $1,000 to Goodwill Industries Knoxville.

Other pros offer incentives to their fans, typically chosen among their Facebook fan page audiences. Jonathon VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., is offering an opportunity to fish with him on Lake St. Clair in Michigan, with lodging and tackle included. Similarly, Bill Lowen of North Bend, Ohio, will take a fan on a fishing trip, and Bradley Roy of Lancaster, Ky., will take a fan on a guided trophy whitetail deer hunting trip — if they get the fan vote qualification to All-Star.

Gear is also a popular motivation for voting. Cliff Crochet is offering a 50-quart Summit Series K2 Cooler; Kevin Hawk will award one of his signature series AIR IRod spinning rods; Brandon Card will give away a Bionic boat cover from EmpireCovers and a Pinnacle Fishing gift package; and Chris Lane will give a fan a $500 gift certificate to the Chris Lane Outdoor Resort in Guntersville, Ala. But for each pro, the giveaway only happens if the fans turn out for them and get them into Toyota All-Star Week.

Fans also have a chance to win just for voting, no matter which pros get in. Every person who casts a vote at Bassmaster.com/vote between now and Sept. 6 is entered into a sweepstakes. Fourteen names will be drawn, and the Toyota Fan finalists will then each be virtually paired with one of the All-Star Week competitors. The fan who is paired with the winner of the event will take home a 2014 Toyota Tundra truck. You can vote today at Bassmaster.com/vote.