BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Continuing a tradition of pioneering new types of competitions every season, B.A.S.S. LLC is unveiling four unique events for 2014.
Together, the events offer new opportunities for every type of angler, from weekenders and high school students to professionals.
“We always strive to provide novel ways anglers and fans can enjoy the sport of bass fishing, and new avenues through which our sponsor partners can reach their markets,” said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S.
“Two of the 2014 events reach the fast-growing market of high school anglers, whether they simply love the sport or have an eye on turning pro. High school anglers are the future of our sport,” Akin said. “Another event will result in a weekend angler qualifying for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic — the dream of most any angler. The fourth — a Bassmaster Elite Series ‘super-event’ — is sure to be a fan favorite.”
The four events are:
Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, Sept. 18-21, in Escanaba, Mich., with competition on Bays De Noc, Lake Michigan. The event host is the city of Escanaba, a partner of Pure Michigan, the official tourism and travel organization for the state.
The culmination of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, this tournament will determine the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, the sport’s prestigious achievement worth $100,000. Also at stake are 29 berths in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
To qualify for the championship, an Elite Series pro must be No. 50 or higher in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings after the eight events of the 2014 regular season. Points are earned by pros based on their finishes at each of those eight events.
“Ending the season-long Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race with a dedicated tournament escalates the excitement for fans — and raises the bar for Elite Series pros,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director.
“The total AOY purse has been increased to $900,000 and pays out from first to 50th place, so all competitors have much at stake, whether or not they’re in contention for the crown,” Weldon said. “Add to that the heated competition for the 29 Classic berths, and the championship sets up as one of the most exciting events of the entire season.”
The Escanaba Pure Michigan competition will be surrounded by a full slate of fan activities, from daily takeoffs and weigh-ins to a Bassmaster Elite Series Expo. Local activities will be coordinated by the Bays De Noc Convention & Visitors Bureau, visitescanaba.com.
Bassmaster High School National Championship, July 16-19, in Tennessee on Kentucky Lake and Carroll County Reservoir. Hosts are Henry and Carroll counties, Bethel University and the Village of Paris, Tenn.
In this event, 96 of the best high school teams in the nation will compete for scholarships and merchandise as well as the first National Championship trophy.
The teams will qualify through individual state B.A.S.S. Nation organizations. Each B.A.S.S. Nation state will send its best two high school teams.
“This is really kicking up the B.A.S.S. high school initiative,” said Jon Stewart, director, B.A.S.S. Nation. “With the competition later aired on ESPNU, the growing high school sport of bass fishing will be showcased like never before.”
The first two days of competition will be on Kentucky Lake with weigh-ins at Paris Landing out of Paris, Tenn. The finalists will compete for two days on Carroll County Reservoir and weigh their catches on the campus of Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn.
Besides earning the title of national champion, the winning team will receive a share of $21,000 in scholarships from B.A.S.S. as well as merchandise provided by sponsors. In addition, Bethel University will award $40,000 in scholarships; $5,000 a year for four years will go to the Top 2 finishing anglers provided they are either a junior or senior in high school and use the scholarship to attend Bethel University and become a part of the Bethel University Wildcats bass fishing team.
Bassmaster High School Invitational, June 20-21, Douglas Lake out of Dandridge, Tenn.
This event will qualify eight high school teams to compete in the 2015 Bassmaster High School Classic held in conjunction with the pro-level 2015 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 20-22, in Greenville, S.C.
Any high school club registered with B.A.S.S. can send teams to the Bassmaster High School Invitational. Competition will be on Douglas Lake; weigh-ins will be at the Point Resort in Dandridge.
“Based on the interest in last year’s inaugural High School Invitational, we expect hundreds of boats in the 2014 event,” Stewart said. “This will be a fun event for the anglers and their families. We will have a huge barbecue the night before the tournament, and the anglers can meet other anglers from all over the country with the same passion for bass fishing.”
Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship, Dec 9-13, on DeGray Lake out of DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge and Convention Center in Bismarck, Ark.
Through this new event, one angler will qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C. In addition, one two-angler team will emerge as the national champion.
The teams will qualify for the championship through various B.A.S.S.-sanctioned team trails across the country operated independently of B.A.S.S. (For a list of sanctioned trails, go to Bassmaster.com.)
After two days of team competition on DeGray Lake, and the crowning of the inaugural Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Champion, the Top 3 teams will be split up. Those six anglers will return to the water to compete for the one Bassmaster Classic spot.
“As we do with the B.A.S.S. Nation program, with this new event we’re reaching grass-roots anglers and giving them a shot at being a Bassmaster Classic competitor,” Stewart said. “Not every angler has the opportunity to turn pro, but this event gives one amateur a shot at competing against top pros in the world championship.”