BASS NEWS: BASSMASTER ELITE 50 PREVIEW LAKE DARDANELLE
 

ELITE 50 PREVIEW - EVENT 1 OF 4
Lake Dardanelle, Russellville, Ark. (April 14 - 17)

EXCITEMENT PEAKS AS NEW BASSMASTER ELITE 50 SERIES KICKS OFF
Arkansas' Lake Dardanelle Hosts First Stop on New Circuit

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. - When the first cast of the morning of April 14 enters
the water, history will be made with the launching of professional fishing's
first showdown style, no-entry-fee circuit with a guaranteed pay check for
every participant - a milestone in the sport created and nurtured by BASS.

The excitement level among Bassmaster pros and fishing fans alike is
reaching a crescendo as the eagerly anticipated $1.6 million CITGO
Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer heads into the
Bassmaster Elite 50 series April 14-17 on Arkansas' Lake Dardanelle.

The Elite 50 series also marks the first time that the cream of today's crop
of bass pros will face off in limited-field events. These 50 top pros earned
their Elite status through either their combined performance over the past
three CITGO Bassmaster Tour seasons or through a career of excellence that
placed them atop the BASS all-time money list.

It is an all-star lineup, to be sure.

"I never even considered the possibility of something like the Elite 50s
where we don't have to fish for our own money and where we have a chance to
win some big money and we're being paid the equivalent of an appearance fee
like other sports," veteran Texas pro Alton Jones said. "Even the last-place
guy after the four tournaments is guaranteed to make $20,000.

"I'm really excited about it. I just applaud ESPN for taking it to this
level, and I would love to see it grow."

The format for the Bassmaster Elite 50 events will change a bit from the
Tour events, featuring the BASS Showdown format. After the second day, the
top 12 anglers will be separated from the rest of the field.  Those dozen
will fish a rotating series of six designated fishing holes.  The remaining
50 anglers will continue to fish on day three, however they will not be able
to fish the six-hole course and they will be vying only for positions in the
standings after 12th spot. After day three, the 12 will be cut to the Super
Six who will again fish the six-hole course.  The Super Six will be the only
anglers from the field to fish during day four.

The unique Elite 50 format pays handsomely for the most consistent
performers throughout the four tournaments. The winner of each event earns
$5,000, while the top angler, in the point standings, at the end of the
Elite 50 season pockets a cool $150,000.

In addition, the top 10 Elite 50 pros will earn invitations to the
prestigious CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer, slated for
July 30-Aug. 1 in Charlotte, N.C.

Although it has never hosted a BASS event, Lake Dardanelle is expected to be
a great place to launch such an innovative circuit.

"Lake Dardanelle has been a fine bass lake for a long time," said Penny
Berryman, a Dardanelle resident and top female tournament pro. "Dardanelle
is everything that a bass fisherman could want in a lake.

"It has a good, stable population of bass and plenty of shallow cover for
them to live in. And all fishermen enjoy fishing shallow cover best of all.
This lake also has a variety of cover. You can find something to suit every
fisherman on this lake."

Located in northwestern Arkansas, Lake Dardanelle is situated on the extreme
northern boundary of the Ouachita Mountain Province and sprawls through five
counties. Lying in the shadow of both the Ozark and Ouachita national
forests, Dardanelle is surrounded by picturesque landscapes in every
direction.

It was completed in 1969 as part of the multi-million-dollar McClellan-Kerr
Arkansas River Navigational Project and covers 35,000 acres on its 50-mile
run to the Ozark Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam. The reservoir, which is 2 miles
at its widest, is captured between Russellville and Little Rock. Its 315
miles of shoreline weave a network of cozy coves and inlets along the way.
Also included are numerous creeks, deep pits and backwater flats.

Two-time BASS tournament champion and former Dardanelle resident Doug
Garrett predicts that the Elite 50 pros will enjoy some springtime fishing.

"The fishing on Lake Dardanelle ought to be great," he said. "It should be a
fun tournament.

"The fish will be spawning. The spawn generally covers three (full) moon
phases on Lake Dardanelle because you have such a diversity in the water.
The bays and stuff will be dirty water where they will spawn first. Then the
fish in the creeks and river system spawn at a later time.

"The fish will be in the dead grass where they will catch them on a jig and
a tube bait and flipping a lizard. A pretty good-sized spinnerbait, too. It
will strictly be a grass bite, but not the type of grass that we're used to
fishing. It's what we call Dardanelle grass. It's nothing more than water
lily that grows around the bank. That's what the bass key on and where
they'll spawn."

Lake Dardanelle traditionally produces 8- to 11-pound bass in April,
according to Garrett.

"The best part of the whole reservoir - the Illinois Bayou and the four
strip pits - are where the (Showdown format) finals will be held," he said.
"The strip pits for years and years have always been on fire in mid-April.
It used to be possible to go in there and catch a 10-bass limit that weighed
50 to 60 pounds if you hit it perfect during that time. So there will be a
lot of fish caught in the strip pits during the finals.

"I'd say it will take 18 pounds a day to make the cut. After that, if the
pits are in great shape it's really easy to catch 20 pounds a day in there
during the finals."

Daily weigh-ins will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Lake Dardanelle State Park and
are free to the public.

THE CITGO BASSMASTERS ON ESPN2
Fans can catch the first event of the new Bassmaster Elite 50 series on
Arkansas' Lake Dardanelle, Saturday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT
on ESPN2.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Immediately following the weigh-ins at all four of the Bassmaster Elite 50
events, fans will be able to see the results of the tournament on ESPN's The
Bottom Line, the crawling list of sports news, scores and updates at the
bottom of the screen on ESPN2 and SportsCenter.

NEXT STOP
The Bassmaster Elite 50 series will hold the second of four events on
Mississippi's Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, May 19-22.

BASSMASTER ELITE 50 CHAMPION
Pros fishing in the Elite 50 series will be competing for Bassmaster Elite
50 points throughout the four showdown-style events.  Anglers are awarded
points based on their finishes in each of the four events.  The tournament
winner receives 300 points. The scoring decreases in 5-point increments to
fifth place, 4-point increments through 10th place, 3-point increments
through 15th place and 2-point increments to 50th place.

PUROLATOR BIG BASS
New for 2004, Purolator, the official oil filter and air filter of BASS, is
instituting an incentive to the angler who catches the heaviest fish each
day.  Pros catching the largest fish will receive a $1,000 bonus in all four
of the Bassmaster Elite 50 events.  An additional $1,000 will be awarded to
the angler who catches the largest fish of each tournament.

BUSCH SHOOTOUT
Another new program for 2004 is the $200,000 Busch Shootout contingency
program.  Qualifying Tour pros will receive a $1,000 bonus for the largest
sack brought in per tournament day.

The top 10 "Busch Heavyweights" from the Tour and Elite 50 events will be
joined by anglers with the top weights from the 2004 Classic, the 2004
Federation Championship and the 2003 Open Championship to compete in the
single-day Busch Shootout tournament, Sept. 18, on a mystery lake.  The
winner will receive $100,000, with everyone else taking home a $5,000 check.

Arizona's John Murray was the first to qualify for the Busch Shootout
tournament by having the heaviest sack at the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Open
Championship on Toledo Bend Reservoir last December.  Murray's Day 3 catch
of 21 pounds qualified him for the tournament.

Currently, the top 10 Busch Heavyweights are:
Kelly Jordon   Texas 32-2 Santee Cooper Lakes
Mark Rogers Texas 31-13 Lake Eufaula
George Cochran Arkansas 29-15 Lake Guntersville
Stacey King Missouri 28-2 Lake Guntersville
David Wharton Texas 26-7 Harris Chain of Lakes
Kevin VanDam Michigan 26-3 Lake Guntersville
Jason Quinn South Carolina 24-14 Harris Chain of Lakes
Bink Desaro Idaho 24-5 Lake Eufaula
Denny Brauer Missouri 23-12 Lake Eufaula
Ben Matsubu Texas 23-10 Lake Eufaula

CLASSIC WATCH
The top 10 anglers in point standings from the Bassmaster Elite 50 series
will earn a berth in the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch
Beer.  Thirty-seven anglers have already qualified for the 2004 Classic, 12
through the CITGO Bassmaster Open divisions and another 25 through the Tour.
Those 37 include:

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Southern Division
Tim Horton
David Walker
Denny Brauer

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Central Division
Edwin Evers
Tim Carroll
Steve Sennikoff

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Northern Division
Art Ferguson III
Kevin Wirth
Chuck Economou

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Western Division
Bink Desaro
John Murray
Skeet Reese

CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer
Gerald Swindle
Greg Hackney
Michael Iaconelli
Kelly Jordon
Aaron Martens
Scott Suggs
Bernie Schultz
Takahiro Omori
Brent Chapman
Chad Brauer
Davy Hite
Chris Baumgardner
Marty Stone
Mark Davis
Brett Hite
Alton Jones
Gary Klein
Jim Bitter
Dean Rojas
Lee Bailey
Peter Thliveros
Harold Allen
Kevin VanDam
Mark Kile
Stacey King

LAST TIME AT LAKE DARDANELLE
The 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer continues
to Arkansas' Lake Dardanelle for the first event of the Bassmaster Elite 50
series.  This is the first BASS event held at the fishery.

BASS IN ARKANSAS
The Lake Dardanelle event will mark the 21st time BASS has visited Arkansas.
The last event held in Arkansas was on Lake Hamilton in 2003.

ORIGINS OF THE TOUR
While BASS has conducted tournaments since 1967, records for the CITGO
Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer begin with the 1994-95 season, as
that was the first year the pro-am tournaments earned points toward the
Angler of the Year award.

The heaviest total weight tournament in CITGO Bassmaster Tour history took
place in April 2002 on Alabama's Lake Guntersville, where the field of pros
brought in an astonishing 5,645 pounds, 4 ounces of bass.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than
20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation.  The CITGO Bassmaster
Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer 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.

CASTINGKIDS
The Bassmaster CastingKids program sponsored by CITGO will be held in
conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday, April17, from 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
at the Lake Dardanelle State Park.  Children between the ages of 7 and 14
can participate in the contest with the chance to earn a scholarship.

The event and instruction to youngsters will be facilitated by the local
BASS Federation.

BASS YOUTH OUTREACH PROGRAM
BASS understands that children are the future of professional bass fishing,
which is why the BASS Youth Outreach Program has been instituted.  BASS
Federation Youth Manager, Stacy Twiggs has been instrumental in teaching
children about conservation issues and the heritage, techniques and joys of
bass fishing.  Twiggs visits local schools at every Bassmaster Tour stop.
BASS Tour pros have voiced their support of the program and are always
available to sign autographs at events.  For more information on the bass
Youth Outreach Program, contact Stacy Twiggs at
Stacy.S.Twiggs@bassmaster.com.

BASS SPONSOR EXPO (ADMISSION IS FREE)
A popular component of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour events this season is the
highly interactive and family friendly BASS Sponsor Expo area.  Sponsors
present interactive exhibits and provide a fun family experience for all
ages. The Expos take place from 3-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on
Saturday at the Lake Dardanelle State Park.

SCHEDULE - BASSMASTER ELITE 50 SERIES EVENT 1

Registration: Tues., April 13, 4:30 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center

Briefing - Tues., April 13, 6:30 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center

First day launch - Wed., April 14, 10 a.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

Day 1 weigh-in - Wed., April 14, 7 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

Second day launch - Thur., April 15, 10 a.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

Day 2 weigh-in - Thur., April 15, 7 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

Third day launch - Fri., April 16, 10 a.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

BASS Sponsor Expo - Fri., April 16, 3-8 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

Day 3 weigh-in and cut - Fri., April 16, 7 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

Fourth day launch - Sat., April 17, 10 a.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

BASS Sponsor Expo - Sat., April 17, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

CastingKids Competition - Sat., April 17, 3-6 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

Day 4 weigh-in - Sat., April 17, 7 p.m.
Lake Dardanelle State Park

2004 CITGO BASSMASTER TOUR SCHEDULE

Site: Harris Chain of Lakes - Leesburg, Fla.
Winner: Marty Stone - 61-12
Site: Smith Lake - Jasper, Ala.
Winner: Charlie Weyer - 32-10
Site: Lake Guntersville - Guntersville, Ala.
Winner: George Cochran - 99-10
Site: Table Rock Lake - Kimberling City, Mo.
Winner: Mark Davis - 67-2
Site: Lake Eufaula - Eufaula, Ala.
Winner: Denny Brauer - 76-14
Site: Santee Cooper Reservoir - Manning, S.C.
Winner: Kelly Jordon - 93-13

2004 BASSMASTER ELITE 50 SCHEDULE

Site: Lake Dardanelle - Russellville, Ark.
April 14-17
Site: Tenn-Tom Waterway - Columbus, Miss.
May 19-22
Site: Alabama River - Prattville, Ala.
June 2-5
Site: Ohio/Cumberland/Tennessee Rivers - Paducah, Ky.
June 16-19

BASS ON THE INTERNET
For information and news about BASS events, www.bassmaster.com is available
to members of the media and the general public and provides daily wrap-ups
and standings from each event as well as schedules of events and other BASS
news.  Working media can access stats, stories and photos at
www.espnoutdoorsmedia.com.  Please apply for a password today.

BASS SPONSORS
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer
include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter
Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance
Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and
BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.

Local Sponsors include the Russellville Advertising & Promotion Commission.

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

BASSMASTER ELITE 50 ENTRY LIST

ALABAMA
Tim Horton
Randy Howell
Gerald Swindle

ARIZONA
Brett Hite
John Murray
Dean Rojas

ARKANSAS
George Cochran
Mark Davis
Larry Nixon
Ron Shuffield
Mike Wurm

CALIFORNIA
Robert Lee
Ishama Monroe
Skeet Reese

FLORIDA
Jim Bitter
Shaw E. Grigsby Jr.
Roland Martin
Bernie Schultz
Peter Thilveros

KANSAS
Brent Chapman

KENTUCKY
Todd Auten
Jack Gadlage
Mark Menendez
Kevin Wirth

LOUISIANA
Greg Hackney

MICHIGAN
Kevin VanDam

MISSISSIPPI
Paul Elias

MISSOURI
Randy Blaukat
Chad Brauer
Denny Brauer
Rick Clunn
Stacey King
Brian Snowden

NEW JERSEY
Mike Iaconelli

NORTH CAROLINA
David Fritts
Dustin Wilks

OKLAHOMA
Tom Biffle
Edwin Evers
O T Fears III
Kenyon Hill

SOUTH CAROLINA
Davy Hite

TEXAS
Todd Faircloth
Alton Jones
Kelly Jordan
Gary Klein
Ben Matsubu
Bud Pruitt
Zell Rowland
David Wharton
Jay Yelas