Elite Series field set for 2018

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A star-studded field of 111 professional bass anglers — including a mix of rookies, legends and veterans from other tournament circuits — will make up the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series field when competition gets underway on Lake Martin, Alabama, in February.
The lineup includes 99 anglers who competed in the Elite Series this year. They will be joined by 11 first-time Elite qualifiers and one Elite veteran, Rick Morris of Lake Gaston, Va., who is returning to the prestigious pro circuit after a three-year hiatus.
“The Elite field is getting stronger every year,” noted B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. “Some of the anglers who achieved Elite status in the last few years — including Bassmaster Classic champion Jordan Lee — are already proving they belong in the top tier of this sport. I expect some of the pros qualifying from the Bassmaster Opens will become forces to be reckoned with right away, too.”
Weldon said that only three of the 15 qualifiers from the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens declined invitations to compete in the Elite Series.
Among those climbing in from the Opens is Hunter Shryock, brother of veteran Elite pro Fletcher Shryock, and at least two standouts from the FLW Tour. Shin Fukae and Wesley Strader have each won about $1.5 million in long careers with FLW. Because of their previous winnings, Fukae and Strader will not be eligible for Bassmaster Rookie of the Year honors next year.
Heading the list of anglers requalifying for the 11-event circuit are Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, the reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and seven-time AOY winner Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.
Also returning are 17 former Classic winners, including Lee. Three of those, Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo.; David Fritts of Lexington, N.C.; and Paul Elias of Laurel, Miss., narrowly missed requalifying this year but were given special “Legends” exemptions available to past Classic champions and AOY winners.
Requalifying through the Elites is based on Angler of the Year points earned the previous season. Newcomers also get a one-year grace period that guarantees them a second season. Should Opens anglers or others decline invitations, those spots are filled from a list based on average rankings in Angler of the Year points over the anglers’ careers.
Another nine Elite Series anglers failed to requalify this year and will have to climb back in through the Bassmaster Opens, said Weldon, who noted that they were offered priority entry into the 2018 Opens.
After the kickoff Elite tournament in February, the anglers will break for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, March 16-18. Eight more regular-season Elites will be held between April and August. As in 2017, the Elite postseason will include the $1 million Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship (to be held next year on Lake Chatuge, Georgia, Sept. 20-23) and the wildly popular, live-streamed Bassmaster Classic Bracket Fish-Off (Oct. 23-26 on Carters Lake, Georgia).

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Field

NameHometown/StateQualification Route Rookie/Newcomer/Elite veteran
Casey AshleyDonalds, S.C.Elite Series 
Adrian AvenaVineland, N.J.Elite Series 
Drew BentonPanama City, Fla.Elite Series 
Josh BertrandSan Tan Valley, Ariz.Elite Series 
Tommy BiffleWagoner, Okla.Elite Series 
Stetson BlaylockBenton, Ark.Elite Series 
Stephen BrowningHot Springs, Ark.Elite Series 
Brandon CardKnoxville, Tenn.Elite Series 
Tyler CarriereYoungsville, La.Elite Series 
Brent ChapmanLake Quivira, Kan.Elite Series 
Hank Cherry Jr.Lincolnton, N.C.Elite Series 
Jason ChristiePark Hill, Okla.Elite Series 
Luke ClausenOtis Orchards, Wash.Elite Series 
Rick ClunnAva, Mo.Legend 
Keith CombsHuntington, TexasElite Series 
Dustin ConnellClanton, Ala.Elite Series 
Brandon CoulterKnoxville, Tenn.Elite Series 
John Crews Jr.Salem, Va.Elite Series 
Cliff CrochetPierre Part, La.Elite Series 
Mark Daniels Jr.Tuskegee, Ala.Elite Series 
Mark DavisMount Ida, Ark.Elite Series 
Ott DeFoeKnoxville, Tenn.Elite Series 
Boyd DuckettGuntersville, Ala.Elite Series 
Brent EhrlerRedlands, Calif.Elite Series 
James ElamTulsa, Okla.Elite Series 
Paul EliasLaurel, Miss.Legend 
Edwin EversTalala, Okla.Elite Series 
Todd FairclothJasper, TexasElite Series 
Seth FeiderBloomington, Minn.Elite Series 
Micah FrazierNewnan, Ga.Elite Series 
David FrittsLexington, N.C.Legend 
Shin FukaePalestine, TexasSouthern OpensNewcomer
Shaw Grigsby Jr.Gainesville, Fla.Elite Series 
Chris GrohSpring Grove, Ill.Northern OpensRookie
Greg HackneyGonzales, La.Elite Series 
Skylar HamiltonDandridge, Tenn.Elite Series 
Ray Hanselman Jr.Del Rio, TexasCentral OpensRookie
Jamie HartmanNewport, N.Y.Elite Series 
Roy HawkLake Havasu, Ariz.Central OpensRookie
Matt HerrenAshville, Ala.Elite Series 
Brett HitePhoenix, Ariz.Elite Series 
Timmy HortonMuscle Shoals, Ala.Elite Series 
Randy HowellGuntersville, Ala.Elite Series 
Michael IaconelliPittsgrove, N.J.Elite Series 
Kelley JayeDadeville, Ala.Elite Series 
Alton Jones Jr.Lorena, TexasElite Series 
Alton JonesLorena, TexasElite Series 
Kelly JordonFlint, TexasElite Series 
Steve KennedyAuburn, Ala.Elite Series 
Gary KleinMingus, TexasElite Series 
Jeff KrietArdmore, Okla.Elite Series 
Chris LaneGuntersville, Ala.Elite Series 
Bobby LaneLakeland, Fla.Elite Series 
Russ LanePrattville, Ala.Elite Series 
Robbie LatusoGonzales, La.Elite Series 
Jordan LeeGuntersville, Ala.Elite Series 
Matt LeeGuntersville, Ala.Elite Series 
Dave LefebreErie, Pa.Elite Series 
Brandon LesterFayetteville, Tenn.Elite Series 
Jared LintnerArroyo Grande, Calif.Elite Series 
Bill LowenBrookeville, Ind.Elite Series 
Justin LucasGuntersville, Ala.Elite Series 
Aaron MartensLeeds, Ala.Elite Series 
Mike McClellandBella Vista, Ark.Elite Series 
Mark MenendezPaducah, Ky.Elite Series 
Ish MonroeHughson, Calif.Elite Series 
Andy MontgomeryBlacksburg, S.C.Elite Series 
Kyle MontiOkeechobee, Fla.Southern OpensRookie
Rick MorrisLake Gaston, Va.Southern OpensElite veteran
Brock MosleyCollinsville, Miss.Elite Series 
Paul MuellerNaugatuck, Conn.Elite Series 
David MullinsMt. Carmel, Tenn.Elite Series 
John MurraySpring City, Tenn.Elite Series 
Darrell OcamicaNew Plymouth, IdahoElite Series 
Takahiro OmoriEmory, TexasElite Series 
Cliff PacePetal, Miss.Elite Series 
Brandon PalaniukHayden, IdahoElite Series 
Chad PipkensLansing, Mich.Northern OpensElite veteran
Clifford PirchPayson, Ariz.Elite Series 
Keith PochePike Road, Ala.Elite Series 
Jacob PowroznikN. Prince George, Va.Elite Series 
Cliff PrincePalatka, Fla.Elite Series 
Skeet ReeseAuburn, Calif.Elite Series 
Marty RobinsonLyman, S.C.Elite Series 
Dean RojasLake Havasu City, Ariz.Elite Series 
Scott RookLittle Rock, Ark.Elite Series 
Fred RoumbanisRussellville, Ark.Elite Series 
Bradley RoyLancaster, Ky.Elite Series 
Bernie SchultzGainesville, Fla.Elite Series 
Terry ScrogginsSan Mateo, Fla.Elite Series 
Morizo ShimizuOsaka, JapanElite Series 
Fletcher ShryockDennison, OhioElite Series 
Hunter ShryockNewcomerstown, OhioSouthern OpensRookie
Brian SnowdenReeds Spring, Mo.Elite Series 
Gerald SpohrerGonzales, La.Elite Series 
Wesley StraderSpring City, Tenn.Northern OpensNewcomer
Randy SullivanBreckenridge, TexasCentral OpensRookie
Caleb SumrallNew Iberia, La.B.A.S.S. NationRookie
Gerald SwindleGuntersville, Ala.Elite Series 
Jesse TacoronteOrlando, Fla.Elite Series 
Randall TharpPort St. Joe, Fla.Elite Series 
Jonathon VanDamKalamazoo, Mich.Elite Series 
Kevin VanDamKalamazoo, Mich.Elite Series 
Greg VinsonWetumpka, Ala.Elite Series 
David WalkerSevierville, Tenn.Elite Series 
Bill WeidlerHelena, Ala.Southern OpensRookie
Jacob WheelerHarrison, Tenn.Elite Series 
Jake WhitakerFairview, N.C.Northern OpensRookie
Jesse WigginsCullman, Ala.Elite Series 
Jason WilliamsonWagener, S.C.Elite Series 
Chris ZaldainLaughlin, Nev.Elite Series 

See the profiles of the 2018 Elite Series anglers here