BASS Announces 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series
BASS unveiled the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series regular-season schedule Wednesday. The most prestigious level of tournament fishing will kick off near BASS headquarters with consecutive events in Florida and will come full circle for the conclusion in Alabama, BASS’ birthplace. In between, the circuit will visit three fisheries – St. Johns River, Toledo Bend, and West Point Lake – that will host their first Elite Series event.
“It’s exciting to bring the Elite Series to new communities and expose the most prestigious level of tournament bass fishing to new fans and BASS members,” said Tom Ricks, vice president, and general manager, BASS. “We appreciate the support of the outstanding communities that are involved with BASS events.”
In February, BASS announced the dates for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic: Feb. 18-20, out of New Orleans. The Super Bowl of bass fishing will kick off the BASS season and usher in ESPN2’s coverage of BASS in 2011. As with past years, each Elite Series event will receive one hour of television coverage on ESPN2’s The Bassmasters.
Additionally, Bassmaster.com will continue to define tournament coverage with their devotion to new technologies such as BassCam, BassCast, and BassTrakk, as well as expansive traditional coverage with photo galleries and analysis. ESPN3.com will serve as the home for living, streaming coverage of Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-ins.
Season Rolls On
The 2011 season gets rolling on two Sunshine State fisheries, with the Elite season opener set for the Harris Chain of Lakes. The Sunshine Showdown will be held March 10-13 in Tavares, Fla., and will mark the Elite Series’ second visit to the Harris Chain.
The waterway, which has featured some compelling storylines during Elite competition, includes six lakes and three tributaries and has rich shoreline vegetation. In March 2008, the last event held there, Mike McClelland toted 59 pounds, 2 ounces, to the scales to best Brian Snowden in a come-from-behind thriller.
Next, anglers will head north to Palatka, Fla., for the March 17-20 Citrus Slam on the St. Johns River. St. Johns has been a popular BASS tournament fishery in the past – it has hosted 16 events — but has yet to host an Elite event. The last event, a 2008 Bassmaster Southern Open, was won by Elite Series pro-Peter Thliveros of St. Augustine, Fla., with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 3 ounces. Thliveros also scored a victory on the Harris Chain in 2005.
Florida’s longest river holds big largemouth bass and a variety of saltwater species, which tend to group with the bass. In addition to Thliveros, fellow Elite pro-Terry Scroggins of nearby San Mateo will be a tournament favorite.
From Florida, the Elites will take a three-week break before heating up again at Pickwick Lake out of Florence, Ala. The April 6-9 Alabama Charge will be Pickwick’s second consecutive Elite event.
During the 2010 Elite Series regular season, Kevin Short of Mayflower, Ark., worked Pickwick for 75 pounds, 1 ounce, to score his second career Elite victory. Pickwick showed what it’s capable of on the final day of competition as Short smashed a 23-pound, 5-ounce, limit despite a weather-shortened day. During that tournament, Pickwick became the first fishery in Elite competition to surrender a limit to anglers during all competition days.
Update From Anglers
From Pickwick, Elite anglers will travel southwest to Toledo Bend, another fishery that BASS helped put on the map. The Battle on the Bayou, set for April 14-17 from Many, La will tally the 13th time BASS has visited the Bend. The last event, a 2009 Central Open, produced a rare tie after the conclusion of the three-day event. In the ensuing fish-off on the following day, Elite pro-James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, claimed victory, which helped him to qualify for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.
Next, anglers will trek to the Peach State on May 5-8 and compete on West Point Lake out of LaGrange, Ga. West Point has never hosted an Elite event, despite having served previously as tournament waters for one Bassmaster Open and four Invitationals. The Open was the last BASS event there, in 2005, and Elite Pro-Mark Menendez took top honors with a three-day total of 36 pounds, 14 ounces.
Surrounded by deep forests and rolling fields, West Point Lake extends 35 miles along the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia state line. The lake’s 525 miles of shoreline provide excellent opportunities for good-sized largemouth.
After West Point, anglers will head May 12-15 to Columbia, S.C., and Lake Murray, which served as the fishery for a 2008 Elite Series event. Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., won that tournament with a four-day weight of 66 pounds, 13 ounces.
Impounded in the 1930s, Lake Murray is a top fishing destination in the Southeastern U.S. and has been the site of eight previous BASS events. The Palmetto State fishery provides opportunities for a topwater slugfest, and anglers often compare it to Georgia/South Carolina’s Clarks Hill Lake, a frequent stop on the Elites.
From South Carolina, anglers head to the Arkansas River and Little Rock, Ark., on June 9-12 for the Diamond Drive. The Bassmaster Legends, a 2006 Elite-level event also out of Little Rock, produced a winning weight of 34 pounds, 9 ounces, for Arkansan and Elite Series pro-Scott Rook.
To wrap up the 2011 Elite Series season on June 16-19, anglers will head to the second Tennessee Valley Authority fishery on the schedule in Wheeler Lake. The Dixie Duel held out of Decatur, Ala. will serve as tournament waters for the finale, which will determine qualifiers for the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason and Bassmaster Classic.
Wheeler has hosted eight BASS events, with the previous Elite Series event occurring in April 2009. While anglers will hit the fishery at a different time of year in 2011, Wheeler should provide for a tight battle. Tommy Biffle of Waggoner, Okla., won the 2009 event with a weather-shortened three-day total of 50-13.
After the completion of the 2011 regular season, the top 12 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings will qualify for the third annual Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason. The location for the 2011 postseason will be announced at a later date.
Thus far for the 2010 season, the Bassmaster Classic and the Bassmaster Elite Series have generated 17 percent more visits from users and 16 percent more average time spent on Bassmaster.com. The streaming video of the weigh-ins on ESPN3.com has produced an increase of 252 percent in terms of unique users.
The entire pro roster for the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series will be released in early 2011 when all qualifications are realized.
On the heels of another successful season of the Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal program, BASS will open registration for 2011 Marshals in January. BASS Federation Nation, Life, and Insider members will all be eligible for priority registration for the eight regular-season events beginning at 9 a.m. ET Jan. 4. On Jan. 11, all BASS members can register at 9 a.m. ET. Interested parties can call 1-877-BASS-USA to register.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at 407-566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com. Visit ESPNOutdoorsMedia.com for ESPN Outdoors’ latest releases, schedules, and other news, plus photos, video, audio clips, and more.
2011 Bassmaster Elite Series Schedule
* Wednesday-Saturday event
Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Skeeter, and Yamaha
Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Lowrance, Triton Boats, Nitro Boats, Bass Pro Shops, and Ramada.
For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach, and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
The Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times, and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com, ESPNOutdoors.com, and ESPN360.com, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, BASS Federation Nation, and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
Till next time tight lines and good fishing….
From Staff Writer BASSonline –
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