BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Officials have unveiled a new format for the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series beginning with the 2024 season. Under the new format, individual, grass-roots anglers — even those who are not affiliated with a local club — will have more opportunities to qualify for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship and a shot at a berth in the iconic Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.
Beginning in 2024, both individual B.A.S.S. Nation anglers and club members from each state will be able to enter national qualifier events, with the Top 20 finishers advancing to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. Additionally, club anglers will be able to qualify directly from their state tournaments to the championship. The Top 3 finishers at the championship earn a berth into the Bassmaster Classic.
“Our goal is to give the everyday angler more chances to make it to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, whether they get in via a state-run event or a national qualifier,” said GL Compton, tournament director for the B.A.S.S. Nation. “We know that for many anglers — especially when you’re working or in college — joining a local club isn’t practical, so opening our regional qualifying events to unaffiliated individuals is a way to accommodate those competitors. But, if you’re a club angler, now you’ll have two paths to qualify for the Nation Championship. It really is an all-around win for grass-roots anglers.”
Currently, to qualify for the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, an angler must first qualify for a 20-member state team via state-level tournaments before competing in a B.A.S.S. Nation regional championship, where only the top boater and nonboater from each state move on to the championship.
The B.A.S.S. Nation Championship tournament will feature qualifiers from the states and the four national qualifier tournaments, as well as international anglers. Not only will the Top 3 anglers from the overall standings realize a dream of competing in the Bassmaster Classic, but the Nation Champion will earn the title of “Nation’s Best,” which includes the use of a fully-rigged tournament boat for a year, an invitation to join the Bassmaster Elite Series and a cash prize. The second- and third-place finishers and nonboater champion will each earn paid entry fees for all divisions of the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens with the opportunity to qualify for the Elites.
Photo by James Overstreet/B.A.S.S.
July 20, 2021
B.A.S.S. Officials Announce 2022 Schedule For Bassmaster Elite Series
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With this year’s Bassmaster Elite Series schedule barely written into the history books, B.A.S.S. officials are already looking toward a bright future with Tuesday’s announcement of the Elite Series slate for 2022.
The top professional bass fishing circuit in the world will once again kick off its season in warm, sunny Florida, with events on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Feb. 10-13, and the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Feb. 17-20.
From there, the trail will visit six more states in seven months while working its way to a season-ending event on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis., Aug. 26-29.
“We’re proud to have the kind of schedule that allows fans from so many areas to enjoy and celebrate the great sport of professional bass fishing,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “With events in seven states from Florida, north to New York, and west to South Dakota, it will be a true test of our anglers’ ability to compete on all types of fisheries.
“It’ll also provide an incredible variety of entertaining scenarios for our fans, both in attendance and watching live on the multiple platforms that are now available to them.”
This will mark the fourth-straight year the Elite Series has held its season-opener on the St. Johns River — a quintessential Florida fishery that features vast shoreline cover, big Florida-strain largemouth and breathtaking scenery with Spanish moss-covered trees, alligators and manatees. The 2021 event on the St. Johns was won by North Carolina rookie pro Bryan New with a four-day total of 79 pounds, 7 ounces.
The trip to the Harris Chain — a collection of eight lakes connected by rivers and canals — will be the first for the Elite Series since 2011. The fishery, which ranked 10th in the Southeastern Division of Bassmaster Magazine’s list of 100 Best Bass Lakes released earlier this summer, has been a common destination for other B.A.S.S. events in the past, however, with the most recent being a Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open won by Keith Tuma this past spring.
“We’re thrilled to host the Bassmaster Elite Series on the Harris Chain of Lakes right here in Lake County,” said Steven Clenney, interim director of Visit Lake. “Our lakes have some of the best bass fishing in the country, and as Bassmaster tournaments return year after year to our area, it reminds us how thankful we are to have this resource in our backyards.”
After a pause for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, March 4-6, the Elite Series schedule will resume right there inside the Palmetto State with the third regular-season event on the Santee Cooper Lakes in Clarendon County, S.C., March 17-20.
B.A.S.S. held 13 major events on the gigantic Santee system, which is comprised of Lakes Marion and Moultrie, from 1975-2009. Then after an 11-year hiatus from the fishery, the Elite Series held a tournament there in October of 2020 that was won by Idaho pro Brandon Palaniuk with 72-2.
“We are so excited to be able to bring the Bassmaster Elites back in 2022,” said Tiffany B. Myers, director of tourism, Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce. “It had been over 10 years since they came to Clarendon County prior to the 2020 tournament. It was a great event, but the pandemic drastically changed plans and logistics. So, we are thrilled to have another opportunity to bring them back during the ideal time of year and with a lot more spectators.”
After Santee, the trail will shift to Chickamauga Lake in Dayton, Tenn., April 7-10. “The Chick,” as it’s known by avid bass anglers from around the country, is a 36,240-acre Tennessee River fishery known for producing giant largemouth.
The next lake on the schedule — Lake Fork in Quitman, Texas — is perhaps known as the country’s largemouth mecca. The Elite Series will drop in on Fork May 19-22 for only the fourth major event B.A.S.S. has ever held on the giant-bass paradise. The lake was ranked No. 1 overall in the country for 2021 in Bassmaster’s list of Top 100 Best Bass Lakes.
That stretch of the schedule should be especially attractive to Lee Livesay — the Texas pro who won the Elite Series’ most recent trip to Chickamauga in October 2020 and the trail’s most recent trip to Fork in April 2021. He won the latter event with a whopping total of 112 pounds, 5 ounces that was capped by a final-day catch of five bass that weighed 42-3.
Details on an event June 2-5 will be announced in the coming weeks.
Another destination that has become a staple for the Elite Series, the St. Lawrence River (fourth overall, 100 Best Bass Lakes), will be the next stop. The event, which is likely to be dominated by big smallmouth, is scheduled for July 14-17 out of Clayton, N.Y. This will be the sixth-straight year the Elite Series has visited the St. Lawrence and the 21st time B.A.S.S. has called on the fishery to host a major event.
Unlike the 2021 season that ended in mid-July, the 2022 slate will push into August with events at two fisheries where fans have been clamoring for the trail’s return.
On Aug. 18-21, massive 370,000-acre Lake Oahe will host the next-to-last event of the season out of Mobridge, S.D. B.A.S.S. has visited Oahe only once, for an Elite Series event in 2018 won by Alabama pro Mark Daniels Jr. B.A.S.S. Nation angler and 2015 Classic qualifier Troy Diede recently caught a 7-4 smallmouth from Oahe that was certified as the South Dakota state record.
The season will conclude on Aug. 26-29 on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis. (16th Central Division, 100 Best Bass Lakes). The Elite Series last visited La Crosse in 2018 during a Midwestern stretch that was paired similarly with Oahe.
“We are thrilled to welcome back the Bassmaster Elite Series to the La Crosse region on the famed Upper Mississippi River,” said A.J. Frels, executive director of Explore La Crosse. “We expect phenomenal fishing for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, and the anglers will showcase the region at unprecedented levels thanks to the partnership between B.A.S.S. and FOX Sports. The Bassmaster LIVE coverage will promote and attract new audiences to our incredible fishery while on-site engagement, launches and weigh-ins are sure to draw big crowds. The greater La Crosse region looks forward to hosting the anglers, their families, fans and spectators in the area!”
After an exciting debut season in 2021, once more, all nine Bassmaster Elite Series events as well as the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will feature live television coverage on the FOX Sports platforms. Visit Bassmaster.com for more details.
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule
Feb. 10-13, St. Johns River, Palatka, Fla.
|November 13, 2020|
Schlapper Wins B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Earns Classic Berth At Pickwick
FLORENCE, Ala. — Pat Schlapper had nothing but good fortune on Friday the 13th when he caught the heaviest limit of the week for a come-from-behind win in the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Pickwick Lake located in the northwest corner of Alabama.
Schlapper, a 38-year-old resident of Eleva, Wis., caught five bass during the final round that weighed 23 pounds, 3 ounces, which was 6 1/2 pounds heavier than any other limit weighed at McFarland Park this week. Combined with his limits of 14-11 on Wednesday and 13-12 on Thursday, Schlapper had a 51-10 total and won the championship by more than 7 pounds.
Schlapper’s win brought a wealth of riches, including a $20,000 cash prize, an invitation to compete on the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series and $16,000 in paid entry fees to those tournaments. B.A.S.S. also will loan Schlapper a bass boat, complete with a “Nation’s Best” wrap, to use in Elite Series events.
But without a doubt, Schlapper’s most precious prize is a berth in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic. The most prestigious fishing tournament in the world will be held on Lake Ray Roberts in Texas on March 19-21.
“My buddies have been saying for a long time, ‘Let’s go to the Classic one year,’” Schlapper said. “I told them, ‘I’m not going to the Classic until I’m fishing in it.’ I’ve been saying that since I was 18, and now I’m finally going.”
Schlapper was in sixth place after Day 1 and jumped to second on Day 2, trailing Louisiana’s Blake Sylvester, who led Days 1 and 2. He trailed Sylvester by only 6 ounces heading into the final day but wasted no time pulling ahead — and away — from the 11 other anglers who made the cut and fished Friday.
“I got lucky,” he told a B.A.S.S. official after the final weigh-in, debunking the lore that only bad omens come on Friday the 13th.
The good luck struck Schlapper early on Friday when current was moving quickly on the Tennessee River. Schlapper was having a difficult time staying in place on a spot he wanted to fish about five minutes from McFarland Park, so he motored above the spot and began drifting back to it. He caught an undersized bass on the drift, which prompted him to cast a few more times to the same area.
The key was putting a 3/4-ounce jighead on the paddletail swimbait (shad color) he’d used throughout the tournament. The switch got his lure to the river bottom and it ignited a smallmouth feeding frenzy. By 10 a.m., Schlapper had 21 pounds and made his final upgrade (a 2-pound bump) at midafternoon.
He considered heading back to shore at noon to weigh his haul, but he stuck it out until 45 minutes before the 2 p.m. weigh-in.
“I put all my eggs in the basket with the smallmouth,” he said. “The current here is a lot like what I fish back home on the Mississippi River.”
Schlapper’s heaviest smallmouth weighed 5-3, and his smallest was just shy of 4 pounds.
“I caught a lot of good fish on a 1/2-ounce jig this week, but the 3/4-ounce made the bait swim right,” he said. “It was like the smallmouths had never seen it before.”
Sylvester, a 29-year-old angler from Plaquemine, La., finished second with 43-2 over three days, including 14-5 on Friday, to earn the second of three Classic bids up for grabs. He also won $15,000 for the runner-up finish, as well as entry into the 2021 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens.
Sylvester pounded a grassy stretch of the river all three days, using a Delta Lures Thunder Jig, a Humdinger bladed jig and a Missile Baits Shockwave (green pumpkin).
“I just wanted to make the third day and give myself a shot (at the Classic),” Sylvester said. “It worked out.”
Justin Kerr of Lake Havasu, Ariz., finished third with 40-7 and secured his own spot in the Classic. He won $10,000 and invitations to all of next year’s Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens.
Kerr, 39, rotated between a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap and an Evergreen Stealth Blade to catch his biggest bass on Pickwick. After 20 years of professional fishing, he was elated to finally qualify for the Classic.
“It’s been a major goal of mine for as long as I can remember,” he said. “After all this time, I’ve got it.”
In all, 94 anglers qualified for the tournament, including 48 in the boater division and 46 in the co-angler field, all competing for a share of $176,800 in cash and prizes. All but four states were represented, with only Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii and North Dakota not competing.
Article Courtesy of B.A.S.S.
Was the day before Christmas, and all through the lake
Not a fisherman was stirring, not even down south
The lures were tied on and casted out with care
In hopes that a trophy bass would soon be there
The anglers were all geared up and out of bed
With visions of a bass soon on lines end
They back in their boat, on their favorite lake
Hoping soon the bass would take the bait
Cast after cast fishing was slow
As it was cold with a chance of snow
After time went by, a small nibble was felt
Set the hook he did, but it was smaller than a smelt
Out back went the lure, in the water it went
Hoping soon this was time well spent
Slowly pitching and flippen all day he did
Even with no biggens, it felt nice to be off the grid
As he hit another favorite spot
He casted out hoping his lure would get popped
As he retrieved a slight tap was given
He reeled down the slack and a hard hook set was driven
To his surprise it was not that small
Oh my god it may be a trophy after all
The bass jumped and jumped trying to get away
But after a few minutes the bass was aboard to see what it would weigh
The bucket mouth was put on a scale to see its pounds
It was a fat ten pounder, nice and round
As he posed, pictures were taken
This way all knows, he was not a fakin
The bass was then placed back in the water and released
As it swam away, it was at peace
To catch another day it would be fun
Maybe next time the angler will be outdone
Time to load up and go see the family he did
As he walked in he was greeted by the kids
As another Christmas fishing day went by
He has another great memory that will never die
By Terry Ellis
Bassmaster Elite Series 2020 Schedule Puts Emphasis On Big Bass Fisheries
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — B.A.S.S. officials have announced the schedule for the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series, a nine-tournament slate that will take the world’s best bass anglers to six states and some of the most storied fisheries in the sport’s history.
For fans who love watching professional anglers catch giant bass, the schedule is likely to be love at first sight.
“This year, we unveiled the mantra ‘Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams.,’” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “We’ve certainly delivered on that in 2019 — and with the schedule we’ve put together for 2020, we’re ready to take another giant step on that path.
“Fans will have an opportunity to see our anglers compete on some of the best big-bass lakes in America.”
The season will start once again in Palatka, Fla., with an event at the St. Johns River on Feb. 6-9. Last year’s tournament on the St. Johns was one of the most exciting in B.A.S.S. history, with legendary angler Rick Clunn weighing 34 pounds, 14 ounces — a bag that included two bass over 9 pounds — on Championship Sunday to come from behind and win with 98-14.
That amazing tournament, along with an in-depth study of weekend tournament results on the fishery, earned the St. Johns River a fourth-place ranking in the Southeastern Division of Bassmaster Magazine’s annual list of Top 100 Best Bass Lakes.
It will be B.A.S.S.’s third trip to the Putnam County, Fla., fishery in five years — and the organization’s 21st visit to the St. Johns, dating back to 1973.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome back the B.A.S.S. Elite tournament to Putnam County,” said Dana C. Jones, president of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great way to start 2020, and we are grateful that they continue to choose us as a partner.
“Tourist Development Council members carefully evaluate the return on investment of all the events they fund, and it was an easy decision to host the B.A.S.S. Elite. The economic impact into our local economy by an Elite event easily equates to over $2 million dollars, and the media value of well over $500,000 is a huge value-add.”
After visiting one big largemouth factory in Florida, the Elite Series anticipates shifting to another fishery that was recently ranked as one of the best in the country on Bassmaster Magazine’s annual Top 100 Best Bass Lakes list. That event is scheduled for Feb. 14-17, but the site won’t be announced until a later date.
The Elite Series schedule will pause during March for the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, the 2020 Bassmaster Classic. Competition will be March 6-8 on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville (second place overall, 100 Best Bass Lakes), with daily weigh-ins and the annual Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo in Birmingham.
When Elite competition resumes, B.A.S.S. will take a trip down memory lane with a return visit to Alabama’s historic Lake Eufaula (12th place, Southeastern Division, 100 Best Bass Lakes) in Eufaula, Ala., on April 2-5.
B.A.S.S. hasn’t visited the 45,000-acre Chattahoochee River fishery since a Southern Open was held there in 2006. But the lake on the Alabama/Georgia border has been the site of 18 major B.A.S.S. events, dating back to 1968 — just the second year of the Bassmaster Tournament Trail.
With the emergence of abundant aquatic vegetation, Eufaula has evolved through the years from a place where nearly all big-money tournaments were won on the ledges into a fishery with a little bit of everything. Options should be especially diverse during the early April visit, when temperatures in the Chattahoochee Valley should be as pleasant as they’ll be all year.
“Anyone who follows professional bass fishing is familiar with Lake Eufaula’s reputation for producing big bass,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. “As an organization, B.A.S.S. has had some great events there through the years, and it’ll be a lot of fun going back.”
The fourth Elite Series event will be in Manning, S.C., on the Santee Cooper Lakes (ninth place overall, 100 Best Bass Lakes). The fishery has hosted 13 major B.A.S.S. events, but none since the 2009 Southern Open.
Massive lakes Marion and Moultrie, which measure 110,000 and 60,000 surface acres, respectively, have been on fire recently. A BFL event held on the Santee Cooper Lakes in March was won with five bass that weighed just over 30 pounds.
The next fishery on the schedule is known for producing some of the biggest crowds in B.A.S.S. history — the Sabine River in Orange, Texas. The fifth Elite Series event on the 2020 slate will be held at Orange on May 29-June 1 and could challenge the Elite Series fan attendance record of 36,200.
It’ll be the fourth time the Elite Series has visited the Sabine River system — and in three previous visits, the crowds totaled more than 96,000.
For earlier events at the Sabine River, catch rates were somewhat low. But the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has worked tirelessly to create a zone that is good for both the Orange, Texas, area and anglers. Thanks to those efforts by TPWD, tournament waters for the 2020 event will be expanded to include that new five-county zone.
“The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to partner with B.A.S.S. to bring the Bassmaster Elite Series to Orange County once again,” said Ida Schossow, president of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce. “This tournament has brought Orange County waterways to the forefront in the fishing world. The tournament is an economic boost to our community and creates a sense of pride for our citizens.”
The site for the annual Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks & Wildlife Department will be announced at a later time. But the dates have been tentatively set for June 5-9 — just before the Elite Series makes its New York swing.
That swing will begin with another trip to smallmouth bass fishing’s holy country, the St. Lawrence River in Waddington, N.Y., on July 23-26. The fishery was named the top bass fishing destination in America on Bassmaster Magazine’s list of Top 100 Best Bass Lakes, and this year’s Elite Series event on the river was won by Georgia pro Micah Frazier with an average of more than 20 pounds of smallmouth each day.
The pros will leave Waddington and head to Plattsburg, N.Y., for an event at Lake Champlain (sixth place, Northeastern Division, 100 Best Bass Lakes) on July 30-Aug. 2. When B.A.S.S. last visited Champlain — for an Eastern Open on Aug. 2-4, 2018 — Vermont angler Bryan Labelle won with an average of almost 20 pounds of largemouth per day.
With the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and numerous Bassmaster Classic berths hanging in the balance, the Elites will finish their season in Macomb County, Mich., at Lake St. Clair (eighth place overall, 100 Best Bass Lakes) on Aug. 20-23.
It will mark the eighth time B.A.S.S. has brought a major event to St. Clair since 1994, and the last three — in 2014, 2015 and 2017 — were all won with better than 20-pound daily averages.
“We set out to put together a schedule that would be pleasing to our anglers, our sponsors and the fans who’ve supported us for more than 50 years as an organization,” Akin said. “This is a schedule that takes us to some incredible fisheries, and every single weigh-in will be held lakeside.
“That means history will be made in some of the best settings imaginable.”
2020 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule
Feb. 6-9, St. Johns River, Palatka, Fla.
Feb. 14-17, TBA
March 6-8, Bassmaster Classic, Lake Guntersville, Birmingham, Ala.
April 2-5, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Ala.
April 16-19, Santee Cooper Lakes, Manning, S.C.
May 29-June 1, Sabine River, Orange, Texas
June 5-9, Texas Fest, TBA
July 23-26, St. Lawrence River, Waddington, N.Y.
July 30-Aug. 2, Lake Champlain, Plattsburg, N.Y.
Aug. 13-16, Elite makeup date
Aug. 20-23, Lake St. Clair, Macomb County, Mich.