BASS LAUNCHES NEW TOURNAMENT TRAIL FOR WEEKEND ANGLERS

'ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series' to Begin in January

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - BASS, the worldwide authority on bass fishing, and ESPN Outdoors announced today that a new series of single-day, weekend tournaments will launch in January at sites around the country.

The ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series will comprise 80 one-day tournaments with all-cash payouts that will lead to four regional championships and a "second chance" tournament and, finally, a series championship that will send its winner to bass fishing's world championship, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.  To qualify for the Classic, anglers will fish at total of seven events: five regular-season events, plus a championship-qualifying event and the championship.

The combined purse for all 86 events, based on a full field of anglers, is $4,252,500, with guaranteed, all-cash prizes of $50,000 for the top boater and $25,000 for the top non-boater at the regional events as well as $100,000 for the top boater and $50,000 to the top non-boater at the championship.

"We are very proud to offer a tournament series that gives so much back to the core bass anglers who now have an affordable way to try tournament fishing with generous purses and great competition," said Don Rucks, General Manager of BASS.  "Our dedicated group in Montgomery has spent a great deal of time working with sponsors, the BASS Federation and others to organize a series that lives up to the BASS brand and history.  The ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series will meet and ultimately exceed expectations and add another dimension to our tournament trails."

The tournament series begins with 80 regular season tournaments.  In 2005, the series includes four regions, with an expansion planned for 2006.  Within those regions, four divisional trails will each hold five tournaments each season.  The tournaments will be held in sites ranging from Grand Lake, Okla., to Lake Champlain, N.Y., to Florida's Lake Okeechobee.

Tournament anglers will be paired by a blind draw and will fish in a limited shared-weight format in which the boater will have a five-fish limit and the non-boater will have a three-fish limit.  However, the non-boater's daily weight will be awarded based on all eight fish, a refinement intended to increase teamwork on the water and encourage participation by new anglers.

"It's going to give bass fishermen that aren't members of the (BASS) Federation a chance to see what bass fishing is all about," said Louisiana BASS Federation President Kevin Gaubert.  "This format is great.  The combined weight thing is going to draw a lot of interest and may ease the mind of a lot of anglers who are scared to go out and fish some places.  It's kind of like another topping of icing on the cake.  BASS has all of these things going for us right now with the Opens, the Tour and now the grassroots trails.  There's plenty of opportunities for the everyday angler to get a taste of tournament bass fishing."

Throughout the regular season, anglers will earn points through their finishes in the five divisional events.  (The points structure is identical to that used on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, in which a tournament winner receives 300 points, with the rest of the field receiving progressively fewer points based on their finishes.) 

Anglers who finish in the top 30 boaters or non-boaters in the regular season point standings will qualify for one of four highly competitive regional tournaments that will be contested over three days in October and November 2005 for a $50,000 top prize at each.  The top 10 boaters and top 10 non-boaters at each of the four regionals will qualify for the season championship.

A second-chance tournament will be held for any anglers who paid to participate in all five divisional events but failed to make a regional competition.  The top 10 boaters and top 10 non-boaters in the second-chance event will qualify for the championship, but will not receive any prize money at the second-chance tournament.

At the championship, the top 50 boaters and non-boaters will compete for a $100,000 top boater prize and $50,000 top non-boater prize.  The tournament will be held in spring of 2006 and will qualify the boater champion for a berth in the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.

Early registration for the series begins online at Bassmaster.com in mid-November.  Entry fees will be $200 for boaters and $100 for non-boaters, with a $10 handling fee added for entry by telephone or mail. 

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation.  The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the 2005 ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Toyota, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, and Bass Pro Shops.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.


ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series at a Glance

80 regular-season tournaments (5 per division, 16 divisions)
January-October 2005
400 anglers per regular-season event (200 boaters, 200 non-boaters)
$200 boater entry fee, $100 non-boater entry fee
$43,200 all-cash prize purse per event*
($6,000 to top boater, $3,000 to top non-boater)
60 anglers from each division qualify for regional (30 boaters, 30 non-boaters)
$3,456,000 total season purse

4 regional tournaments
October and November 2005
240 anglers per regional (120 boaters, 120 non-boaters)
No entry fee
$107,250 all-cash prize purse per event*
($50,000 to top boater, $25,000 to top non-boater)
20 anglers per region qualify for championship (10 boaters, 10 non-boaters)

1 Second Chance tournament
November 2005
Unlimited field open to all anglers who paid to participate in all five events in their divisions
No entry fee
No prize purse
20 anglers qualify for championship (10 boaters, 10 non-boaters)

1 championship
Spring 2006
100 anglers (50 boaters, 50 non-boaters)
No entry fee
More than $350,000 prize purse*
($100,000 to top boater, $50,000 to top non-boater)
Winner earns berth in CITGO Bassmaster Classic

*Payouts based on a full field

ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Schedule

Location Fishery Date

Georgia Division
Bainbridge, Ga. Seminole 2-27
Milledgeville, Ga. Sinclair 3-20
Eufaula, Ala. Eufaula 4-17
Buckhead, Ga. Oconee 5-22
Lanett, Ala. West Point 10-2

Florida Division
Clewiston, Fla. Okeechobee 1-23
Clewiston, Fla. Okeechobee 2-27
Clewiston, Fla. Okeechobee 4-3
Clewiston, Fla. Okeechobee 5-1
Kissimmee, Fla. Toho 6-5

Virginia/North Carolina
South Hill, Va. Gaston 3-20
Henderson, N.C. Kerr 4-3
Henderson, N.C. Kerr 5-8
Salisbury, N.C. High Rock 7-17
Henderson, N.C. Kerr 9-11

North Alabama
Guntersville, Ala. Guntersville 3-13
Rogersville, Ala. Wheeler 4-24
Cedar Bluff, Ala. Weiss 5-15
Cedar Bluff, Ala. Weiss 6-12
Guntersville, Ala. Guntersville 9-11

South Alabama
Alex City, Ala. Martin 2-13
Eufaula, Ala. Eufaula 3-6
Selma, Ala. Ala. River 4-3
Clanton, Ala. Lay 5-1
Prattville, Ala. Ala. River 9-25

Panhandle
Palatka, Fla. St. John's 1-30
Bainbridge, Ga. Seminole 2-20
Port. St. Joe, Fla. Apalachicola 5-8
Palatka, Fla. St. John's 6-19
Bainbridge, Ga. Seminole 10-9

Oklahoma/Arkansas
Mt. Ida, Ark. Ouachita 2-27
Arkadelphia, Ark. Degray 3-20
Russellville, Ark. Dardanelle 4-17
Grove, Okla. Grand 6-19
Greers Ferry, Ark. Greers Ferry 10-2

South Carolina
Manning, S.C. Santee Cooper 3-6
Manning, S.C. Santee Cooper 4-24
Lake Wylie, S.C. Wylie 5-15
Prosperity, S.C. Murray 6-19
Salisbury, N.C. High Rock 8-28

Texas
Jasper, Texas Sam Rayburn 2-20
Hemphill, Texas Toledo Bend 3-6
Jasper, Texas Sam Rayburn 4-10
Hemphill, Texas Toledo Bend 5-8
Jasper, Texas Sam Rayburn 10-9

Northeast
Marbury, Md. Potomac 5-15
Seneca Falls, N.Y. Cayuga 6-26
Clayton, N.Y. 1,000 Islands 7-10
Ticonderoga, N.Y. Champlain 8-7
Clayton, N.Y. 1,000 Islands 9-18

Maryland/Virginia
Marbury, Md. Potomac 4-17
Marbury, Md. Potomac 5-22
Henderson, N.C. Kerr 6-19
Williamsburg, Va. James River 7-10
Marbury, Md. Potomac 9-11

Missouri
Grove, Okla. Grand 3-13
Kimberling City, Mo. Table Rock 4-10
Clinton, Mo. Truman 5-8
Kimberling City, Mo. Table Rock 6-5
Osage Beach, Mo. Lake of the Ozarks 9-25

Tennessee/Kentucky
Smyrna, Tenn. Percy Priest 3-13
Lancaster, Tenn. Center Hill 4-10
Hendersonville, Tenn. Old Hickory 5-1
Buchanan, Tenn. Ky./Barkley 6-26
Buchanan, Tenn. Ky./Barkley 9-4

Louisiana
Morgan City, La. Atchafalya 2-13
Westwego, La. Bayou Segnette 4-10
Monroe, La. Ouachita 5-1
Gibson, La. Bayou Black 5-29
Shreveport, La. Red River 7-24

Mississippi
Ridgeland, Miss. Ross Barnett 2-20
Florence, Ala. Pickwick 3-6
Columbus, Miss. Columbus Pool 5-22
Greenville, Miss. Ferguson 6-12
Ridgeland, Miss. Ross Barnett 9-18

Tennessee
Dayton, Tenn. Chickamauga 3-20
Byrdstown, Tenn. Dale Hollow 4-17
Spring City, Tenn. Watts Bar 5-22
Sevierville, Tenn. Douglas 6-5
Morristown, Tenn. Cherokee 9-11