Elites kick off season at Amistad

CELEBRATION, Fla. — With the memories of a highly successful inaugural season in the past, the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers will once again kick off their season on Texas' Lake Amistad. The venue for the season-opening tournament produced near record-breaking weights in 2006 with eventual winner Ish Monroe weighing-in 104 pounds, 8 ounces.

The Battle on the Border presented by Longhorn will run March 8-11 out of Del Rio, Texas. Amistad is arguably America's top bass fishery and is located on the Texas-Mexico border. In 2006, the massive lake surrendered a total of 1,347 bass weighing more than 5,000 pounds to the 106 Elite pros.

Fishing fans can see all of the on-the-water action from Amistad on The Bassmasters aired on ESPN2 Saturday, March 17 at 9 a.m. ET.

The fishing last year was so incredible that a number of Elite pros including Monroe and California's Skeet Reese have bought land or homes in the Del Rio area since their first visit. Florida's Byron Velvick also owns both a home and a hotel on the shores of Amistad.

"The weights could be better than it was last year," said Velvick, who served as a reporter on ESPN2's Bassmaster Classic coverage this past weekend. "Depending on the wind, there should be a few anglers who total 100-pound catches.

"The tournament will be a little late in the springtime and we had a really cold winter. The fish will likely all be in a pre-spawn phase going toward the spawn, but the weights will still be really heavy."

The 67,000 acre border lake was created with the impoundment of three rivers — the Rio Grande, Pecos and Devils. The bass fishing is helped by a number of prime bass habitat options that include: abundant hydrilla, hundreds of points, coves, flooded brush, timber, rocky shorelines, inlets, submerged ledges, boulders and drop-offs that go as deep as 200 feet.

"I see this tournament shaping up to be a classic prespawn tournament with some sight-fishing in some areas," Velvick said. "Swimbaits will play a role in it as well and there is also an opportunity for guys to be innovative and show these fish things they haven't seen a lot of.

"This is probably the best tournament lake in the country. There's no place where you can't win a tournament on this lake. There's just big fish all around the lake and it's not like most lakes where you have key areas where you have to go in order to win."

Last month, Lake Amistad was the site of the season-opening event of the 2007 Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats. Texan Juanita Robinson set a WBT record with a three-day catch of 56 pounds, 2 ounces, winning the top prize of a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $50,000. She and Lucy Mize posted 26- and 24-pound-plus limits respectively.

The Elite pros will have one more day to fish Amistad than the WBT pros had and Velvick predicts that the winning weight will be around 110 pounds. The four-day BASS tournament record of 115 pounds, 15 ounces was set in 2006 by Florida's Preston Clark on South Carolina's Santee Cooper Reservoir, and Velvick believes it could be shattered.

BASS will also hold a Bassmaster Central Open event on Amistad Sept. 27-29.

Daily launches and weigh-ins will be held at Lake Amistad Resort & Marina in Del Rio. Launches will start at 6:50 a.m. CT with weigh-ins at 3 p.m. CT.

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide and Costa Del Mar.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com