How Bassmaster Elite tournaments work

Founded in 2006, the Bassmaster Elite Series fields the nation’s top bass anglers for a nine-event season that visits a geographically diverse schedule of fisheries. Intentionally varied to provide fans a dynamic look at the sport’s various venues and techniques, the Elite Series requires competitors to master a broad range of baits and tactics.

Seeking largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass (depending on geography), this ultra-competitive series finds anglers matching wits with their target species, while calculating a myriad of seasonal, meteorological and habitat factors. Competing at the sport’s highest level, Elites put on an entertaining and educational show through which countless fans embrace the sport and improve their own fishing abilities. 

From each Elite tournament’s landing page on Bassmaster.com, BASSTrakk provides running stats on fish catches and estimated weights (numbers are unofficial until weigh-ins), while the Bassmaster LIVE team provides on-the-water coverage and analysis of each day’s competition.

Tournament format

Bassmaster Elite tournaments are four-day events, typically Thursday-Sunday, unless delayed by weather or other unforeseen factors. Tournament waters are off limits to Elites 28 days prior to competition, but anglers spend three “practice” days on the fishery directly preceding the event. During this time, they seek to “break down” the lake by prioritizing key areas, analyzing water quality — temperature, depth, lake level rising or falling — and identifying productive baits and techniques.

Competition days are eight hours long. This includes fishing time, as well as on-the-water travel time, so anglers must plan their days to allow sufficient time to reach multiple fishing spots and return at their designated check-in time. 

The full field competes the first two days, after which the field is cut to the Top 50 for Day 3’s Semifinal Saturday round. The Top 10 compete on Championship Sunday, with a winner determined by the heaviest four-day aggregate weight.