The BASSMASTERS return to Okeechobee

MONTGOMERY, Ala.- December 20, 2000 - B.A.S.S. pros from around the country will travel to Lake Okeechobee for the Florida BASSMASTER Eastern Invitational, January 11-13. Over 300 anglers will be vying for the top prize in the $232,000 event.

With the season at midpoint, the battle to qualify for the BASS Masters Classic is heating up. The top five anglers in points at season's end will qualify for fishing's "World Championship."

Currently tied for fifth in the standings is fishing legend Roland Martin. The nine time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, who won at Lake Okeechobee in 1991 with a 37-pound, 5-ounce total, believes that anglers will find excellent fishing when they arrive in south Florida.

"It will take a lot of weight to win," Martin, of Clewiston, Fla., explained. "I fished a tournament with my son recently and we caught five fish that weighed 24 pounds in one day. It is definitely possible that somebody could catch a limit that weighs 25 pounds."

If Martin's weight prediction holds, someone could easily surpass the 37-11 mark that Randy Yager of Syracuse, N.Y., won with during the January 2000 tournament.

With lower water this time of year, anglers will not be able to key on grass areas. As a result of having to fish shallow waters, anglers likely will have more success with crankbaits.

"There will be a lot of low water and you will see a lot of open water cranking," Martin explained. "Most of the guys on the open flats will be cranking shallow water. There is very little grass fishing right now, but you will see some fish caught on the Kissimmee River where it is deeper. The lake doesn't offer much structure fishing right now, but there are a few river ledges and some dredged out holes where some success could be found."

Martin also believes that some warm temperatures could prompt a spawn. "If we have some 75 degree water, it could produce a spawn, which would be real nice. That would make it a lot of fun because of the shallow water. The fish will likely be spawning in some gravel areas and we will be able to see them pretty well."

The Florida BASSMASTER Eastern Invitational is the third of four events on the BASSMASTER Eastern Invitational Trail this season. The winning angler in the event will take home $51,000 out of the overall $232,000 purse. In addition to the prize money anglers will be vying to earn valuable points that will help them qualify for next summer's BASS Masters Classic. The top five anglers in the season's points standings will qualify to fish in the "Super Bowl" of bass fishing.

The Florida BASSMASTER Eastern Invitational will launch at Okee-tantie Marina.

Additionally, a free CastingKids event, sponsored by Chevy Trucks and Zebco, will be held there Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This fun-filled national program designed by B.A.S.S. CEO Helen Sevier encourages children to perfect the skills of casting, pitching and flipping. Local B.A.S.S. clubs conduct the events and provide instruction to all youngsters.

The BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing circuit. It continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship, as it has for more than three decades.

Sponsors of the 2001 BASSMASTER Tournament Trail include: Ranger Boats, RangerTrail Trailers, Mercury Outboards, Chevy Trucks, ACDelco Batteries,, Humminbird/Zercom Marine, Pennzoil Marine, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, First USA/B.A.S.S. Platinum Visa, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Gore-Tex Outerwear and GMAC Insurance.

The event is sponsored locally by the Okeechobee County Tourism Department.

For more information contact:
B.A.S.S. Communications
(334) 272-9530