New rules announced for Rookie of the Year award

After much talk, thousands of Internet comments and a couple of past winners who might have liked to see the award go to someone else, B.A.S.S. officials have decided to make some changes to their Rookie of the Year parameters.

Starting this season, the ROY rule will read as follows: Any first-time Elite angler with combined (B.A.S.S. and FLW) winnings greater than $500K at the beginning of the season will not be considered a “Rookie” in the Bassmaster Elite Series nor eligible for any Rookie Award.”

Just call it the Brent Ehrler Rule.

In the past, B.A.S.S. considered any angler fishing the Elite Series for the first time to be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award. But that made for some awkward moments, with longtime FLW Tour pros making the move to the Elite Series and competing as so-called “rookies.”

In 2015, there was a public outcry from fishing fans when 38-year-old Ehrler outpointed Jordan Lee for the ROY award. Ehrler entered the Elite Series after an illustrious FLW career that saw him win more than $2 million and a Forrest Wood Cup title, while 24-year-old Lee was the epitome of a true rookie.

Obviously, under the new rule, the award would have gone to Lee.

“B.A.S.S. has reviewed the Elite Rookie of the Year qualification based on the accomplished anglers yearning to, and qualifying, for the Bassmaster Elite Series,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S.  “This rule needed some changes – and this was never more evident than when Brent Ehrler won the title in 2015.”

A similar situation took place in 2014 when Jacob Powroznik took the ROY award despite career earnings of nearly $1 million with FLW.

With the new rule in place, several of this year’s newcomers on the Elite Series will be ineligible for ROY.

Washington angler Luke Clausen joins the Elite Series, having won $1,665,450 with FLW, including the FLW Tour Championship in 2004. He also won the 2006 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Toho and enters the Elite Series with more than $2 million in career earnings, as Ehrler did a year ago.

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre earned nearly $1.9 million on the FLW Tour with six wins and 51 career Top 10 finishes, and Chad Grigsby, who now lives in Maple Grove, Minn., enters the Elites after winning $779,106 with FLW.

With those three veterans out of the running, the Rookie of the Year race will include the following anglers: Adrian Avena, Drew Benton, Jay Brainard, Clent Davis, John Hunter, Shane Lineberger, Brock Mosley, Brett Preuett, Fabian Rodriguez and Matt Vermilyea.