BASS REDUCES FIELD FOR 2004 TOUR SEASON TO 150

BASS Pros Retain All-Cash 75th Place Payout; Several Other Changes Planned for Bass Fishing's Premier Series

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - BASS, the worldwide authority on bass fishing, today announced that the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer will reduce its field to 150 pro anglers, down from 175 in 2003 - a move made in conjunction with the BASS Athlete Advisory Council (BAAC).

"BASS is reducing our field size to 150, but is going to continue to pay 75 places," said pro BASS angler Marty Stone, a member of the BAAC. 

BASS Tournament Director Trip Weldon also announced the first increase in regular-season professional entry fees since 1989.  Entry fees for each of the Tour events will be $1,925, up from $1,500 in 2003.  Amateur entry fees will be $650 for each of the 2004 Tour events. 

Each of the six Tour events will still have an all cash pro payout of $448,000 with a first-place check of $100,000.  The 58th-75th-place finishers will win back their entry fees. The amateur bracket will have a total payout of $157,000 in cash and prizes with $36,000, including a new bass boat, going to the winning amateur.

"We listened to what the anglers had to say about reduced fields and their willingness to accept an increase," said Weldon. "Their opportunity to cash a check has also increased."

Stone added, "Given the fact that we reached our goal of getting a reduction in field size while increasing an opportunity to cash a prize check, we accepted the entry fee increase."

This all comes on the heels of the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers.

While amateurs will continue to fish with the pros on the Tour, the Bassmaster Elite 50 will feature observers who will pay a $300 fee to ride along at each event.

"By definition, observers will not fish, but will be able to learn from the best pros in the world up close," added Weldon.

Bassmaster Elite 50 observers will also receive special BASS merchandise and be entered into a drawing for a bass boat at each tournament.

The Bassmaster Elite 50 participants will include the top 20 active anglers on the BASS all-time money list as of April 5, 2004 (following the conclusion of the final 2004 Tour event).  In addition, the Elite 50 will include:

* The 2004 Angler of the Year
* The 2004 Rookie of the Year
* The 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic Champion
* The Top 27 in cumulative Tour points from three previous Tour seasons.  The tournaments whose points will be counted are as follows:
o The Six 2001/02 Tour season events
o First six 2003 season Tour events
o The Six 2004 season Tour events
* In the event of any duplications, BASS will continue to work down the Tour points standings list.

The four-year plan for the Bassmaster Elite 50 series calls for qualification changes for 2006 and 2007 that will include:

* Top 10 active all-time money (down from 20)
* Top 37 Points from three previous season's Tours (up from 27)

The fields for the six-event 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer will be set according to the following criteria:

* Top 100 in the point standings at the conclusion of 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Tour
* Top 15 boaters in each Open Division
* Top five boaters in Open Championship
* Exemptions as follows (One for each category; cannot exceed three):
o 2003 Classic champion
o 2003 Angler of the Year
o Five career BASS wins
o Five career Classic appearances

The field for the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer will be set according to the following criteria:
* 25 from Bassmaster Tour
* 10 from BASS Elite 50
* Top three in points from four Open Boater Divisions (total 12)
* Boater Champion of the Open Championship, if that angler is not in the top three in points of his division
* Five BASS Federation Championship qualifiers
* Exemptions:
o 2003 Bassmaster Classic Champion
o 2003 Angler of the Year


Pro payout structure for each of the six Tour events follows:

2004 Tours (PRO)

1 $100,000
2 38,000
3 23,000
4 20,000
5 15,000
6 14,000
7 12,000
8 10,000
9 9000
10 8000
11 6000
12 5500
13 5400
14 5300
15 5200
16 5100
17 5000
18 4900
19 4800
20 4700
21 4600
22 4500
23 4400
24 4300
25 4200
26 4100
27 3,900
28 3800
29 3700
30 3600
31 3500
32 3400
33 3300
34 3200
35 3100
36 3000
37 2900
38 2800
39 2700
40 2600
41-42 2500 each
43-44 2400 each
45-46 2350 each
47-48 2300 each
49-50 2200 each
51-52 2150 each
53-54 2050 each
55-56 2000 each
57 1950
58-75 1925 each
Big Bass 750 daily
Total 448,000

Amateur payout structure for each of the six Tour events follows:

2004 Tours (AM)

1 $35,000 Boat + $1000
2 35,000 Boat
3 11,000 Boat
4 10,000Motor
5 3,400
6 2,400
7 2,100
8 1,900
9 1700
10 1500
11 1400
12 1300
13-15 1100 each
16-20 1000 each
21-25 950 each
26-30 850 each
31-37 800 each
38-40 750 each
41-50 700 each
51-75 650 each
Big Bass 300 daily
Total 157,000

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail 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 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Bass Pro Shops, Progressive Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, and BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning and G3 Boats.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375