The 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series season rolls out with the Battle on the Border at Texas' Lake Amistad, where Elite anglers have produced impressive hauls of bass in the past three seasons. In 2008, Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, moved from 10th place to first on the final day of the event to edge then-Elite rookie Clark Reehm of Russellville, Ark., by 12 ounces with a total weight of 76 pounds, 15 ounces.
Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action from the March 12-15 Battle on the Border out of Del Rio, Texas, on The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday, March 21, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2. The daily weigh-ins for this and the other seven regular-season Elite events and two postseason events will appear live on ESPN360.com, ESPN's broadband sports network, while a wealth of unique content will also be available at Bassmaster.com.
The Battle on the Border includes a top prize of $100,000 and awards valuable points in the 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title race. Daily launches Thursday through Sunday will be at 7:40 a.m. CT at Diablo East Marina, Hwy 90 West, Del Rio. Daily weigh-ins begin at 4 p.m. at the marina.
The season opener also will be the debut of the Bassmaster Elite Series Marshals program, which allows BASS members to ride along with the pros for the first three days of competition throughout the regular season. Marshals will be called on to help enforce tournament rules and ensure the integrity of the highest level of professional fishing. With the introduction of the Marshals program, the Elite Series becomes the only exclusive pro fishing league in the world.
Amistad, one of America's top bass fisheries, is located on the Texas-Mexico border. The 67,000-acre lake was created with the impoundment of three rivers: the Rio Grande, Pecos and Devils.
The fishery was the site of the 2007 and 2006 season-opening tournaments, with former Rookie of the Year Derek Remitz of Grant, Ala., setting a record there in 2007 as the quickest to achieve an Elite win in a rookie season. He had a four-day tournament weight of 111 pounds, 7 ounces, good enough for 10th all-time among heaviest four-day BASS tournament weights.
In 2007, Faircloth primarily used two techniques throughout the weather-shortened, three-day tournament. He fished a 6-inch Senko to fill out his limit and used a swimbait, as many others in the field did, to entice his bigger bites. The largest bass of his Sunday limit, an 8-13 lunker that earned big bass bragging rights, was boated on a swimbait.
Elite Series pro Jami Fralick of Martin, S.D., who finished eighth in February's Bassmaster Classic on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., thinks weights will be a little off at Lake Amistad compared to the past few years there, as the water was up about 20 feet in late summer and is still about 15 feet higher than it was for the Elite tournament last April.
"It will fish like a new lake," said Fralick, who finished 19th last year on Amistad. "The grass lines will be different, ditches and drains will be different. The big fish will still be there, just not in the exact spots as the last two years."
Fralick said he's sure pros will fish anywhere from the flats to about 45 feet deep, and that some spawning will happen, depending on water temperatures. He believes it will take 95 to 105 pounds to win the four-day tournament.
"I think it'll be won somewhere in the 10- to 20-foot range," he said, "with maybe a combination of a swimbait and football jig."
Sunday's activities include the live taping of Hooked Up, hosted by ESPN Outdoors personalities Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders. The show, which will air live at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN360.com, will preview Sunday's final weigh-in.
Other activities Saturday and Sunday at the Battle on the Border, including the Central Texas Barbeque Scholarship Battle On The Border Cook Off and the Chili Appreciation Society International Cook Off, will begin at 1 p.m. CT at Diablo East Marina. Fans are invited to join the "Ask the Experts" session with the Elite pros during Bassmaster University, set for Saturday, March 14, at 3 p.m.
All events at the Battle on the Border are free and open to the public.
The local sponsor of the Battle on the Border is the Del Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.