Welcome to the 2012 B.A.S.S. Fantasy Fishing challenge

Fantasy Fishing is the place where you get to share the emotions of the Bassmaster Elite anglers, like the feeling of dread when a small sack of bass produces the agony of defeat or, if you are good, the euphoria of a giant sack and the thrill of victory.

If it’s the latter, you and your team of anglers can win a boatload of prizes and each event winner will be featured in a variety of places, including Bassmaster.com, Bassmaster Magazine, B.A.S.S. Times and the Bassmaster Television Show on ESPN2 as part of Bassmaster’s team of Elite Fantasy Anglers.

Even fans should have the opportunity to “Go Ike” every once in a while. Go ahead, roll around and scream a little. Consider it practice for the rest of the season.

The game is simple. Pick a team of five anglers; you get to chose one from five buckets (A,B,C,D and E). It may be up to the Elite angler to actually catch the fish, but it’s up to you to pick wisely, creating a team that will awe your league partners while potentially winning a slew of prizes.

For the Bassmaster Classic contest, which begins taking entries Feb. 1, the winner receives a $5,000 major retailer gift card, a custom winner’s hat and angler jersey. Players who place 2 through 10 win gear packs, a custom hat and T-shirt. And the 11 to 25 finishers receive custom hats and shirts.

The top Fantasy players of each Elite event will receive similar prizes and at the end of the Elite season, the Grand Prize winner will get a Triton boat and Mercury motor, a $5,000 major retailer gift card and custom hat. For a full list of prizes, click here.

Players can join at any time to compete in individual tournaments, and play the full season for a chance at the Elite Series title.

There are some tweaks to this year’s game. For instance, the buckets are smaller in some cases, larger in others and they will change throughout the season.

The smaller buckets will include the season’s superstars, while incorporating those with a home-field advantage. The rational is simple: In order to win, you will have to give some thought to each contest, making sure you’re keeping up with what’s taking place on the water and strategically looking at who has the hot hand.

Each week of every event you will receive an email reminder to set your lineup. While you may think you already have the perfect team, there will be times when that won’t be the case.

After the Bassmaster Classic and following every other event on the Elite Series, the lineups will be wiped clean. The buckets will adjust, switching anglers around to account for home-field advantages and who has the hot hand at the moment.

That will require you to change almost every player, with new strategies instituted and a whole new set of hopes.

Other tweaks for 2012 are bonus points for the Carhartt Big Bass and for the heaviest stringer caught in each tournament.

Find out if you have what it takes to be an Elite Fantasy Angler. Set your lineup now!