The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) is the leading bass fishing organization in the United States and the pioneer when it comes to bass fishing tournaments. B.A.S.S. was founded in 1967 by Ray Scott, the “father” of competitive bass fishing. The organization started clubs across the United States, and holds invitation-only tournaments for the best of the best. There are variety of events in which anglers can compete. It has more than half a million members, mainly from the United States, but with others located worldwide. B.A.S.S. also publishes Bassmaster magazine and produces The Bassmasters weekly television program.
B.A.S.S. is most known for their sport fishing tournaments. The first ever B.A.S.S. Federation tournament was held in 1967 on Beaver Lake, Arkansas, wherein 106 anglers from 13 different states competed.
If you’re a serious bass fisher, it would be an honor to be invited to compete in Bassmaster competitions. B.A.S.S. federations sponsor tournaments and series such as:
Bassmaster Classic is the most well-known, professional bass fishing championship. It’s considered as the “Super Bowl” of fishing. This championship event is a three-day spectacle, complete with theatrical presentations of weigh-ins. It is held annually and has enjoyed a huge fanbase, with events filling large arenas and broadcasted live on ESPN. ESPN has purchased B.A.S.S., so it increased coverage of the event and leveraged the tournament’s profile.
The first Bassmaster Classic was staged in 1971 at Lake Mead, Nevada. Back then, the competitors didn’t know the location of the competition until they were in a plane bound for Las Vegas. This practice of holding competitions in the “mystery lake” continued until 1976, until Ray Scott decided to announce the venue in advance so the fans can make plans to watch and attend the event. Also, it was originally a fall event during 1971-1983, then it was switched as a summer event in 1984. In 2006, it became a late winter event.
The winner of the Bassmaster Classic tournament is named as a world champion of bass fishing. The first prize winner receives $300,000 USD. In 1971, the first place money was priced $10,000, and it increased to $500,000 in 3006. It was only reduced to $300,000 in 2014.
For anglers to earn their spot in the Bassmaster Classic, they must earn a spot via the Opens, or quality for the Bassmaster Elite Series and have enough credentials and success to gain a spot in the Classic. All fishes must be caught under catch-and-release rules and it must measure at least 12 inches. Fishes must be alive at the time they are presented for weigh-in, or unless they’ll receive a penalty. After the second day, only the top 25 anglers will advance to the third day. The angler who accumulated the highest total weight after three days wins the competition.
Notable winners of the Bassmaster Classic include Kevin VanDam and Rick Clunn, who each have won the event four times. Jordan Lee, Hank Parker, George Cochran and Bobby Murray have each won twice.
Bassmaster Elite Series
The Bassmaster Elite Series is the highest level when it comes to professional bass fishing tournaments. For a player to qualify for Bassmaster Elite, he must compete through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens or the B.A.S.S. Nation. The anglers already on the Elite Series needs to re-quality each year by maintaining enough points throughout the season.
This event has a total of 8 regular season events and two Angler of the Year (AOY) fish-offs. They compete all season to win points towards the Toyota Bassmaster AOY award, and also, to qualify for Bassmaster Classic. Bassmaster Elite Series is one of bass fishing’s most lucrative league, as if offers a total of $11 million to give away in prizes. The top 50 anglers have an opportunity to make a lot of cash through the competition.
The Bassmaster Opens is a series of tournaments that serves as a platform for amateur fishers to emerge as aspiring pros. This event tiers up to the Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Elite Series. Boaters and non-boaters can compete in the series, and it allows them to advance to the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Bassmaster Opens are divided into two regions: Central and East. The winner of the Bassmaster Opens who fished in all three Open events in their division is given an automatic entry to next year’s Bassmaster Classic.
The Junior B.A.S.S. Nation holds the Junior Bassmasters, which is a Bassmaster Classic competition for children to teens up to 18 years old. An angler can compete for the Junior Bassmasters after winning a qualifying event sponsored by the B.A.S.S. association. Winners then get to work with the pros to practice. On the day of the tournament, the anglers will not be assisted by the pro and must rely on their own skills and what they have learned. The top three winners all receive scholarships of different value. One goal of this event is to help shape the future of the sport.
The B.A.S.S. Nation is a network of locally organized clubs throughout the country. Members of the B.A.S.S. Nation support and participate at the activities, especially bass tournaments, at a local level. These competitions provide opportunities for anglers to culminate their skills for the opportunity to fish for the higher level competitions. Competitors who qualified for the series of local, regional and national championship can advance to the biggest stage: the Bassmaster Classic. The B.A.S.S. Nation also support conservation initiatives and youth programs.
Carhartt Bassmaster College Series
Presented by Bass Pro Shops, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series offers college students a platform to compete with their angler peers in a national level. Participants can compete in one of five regional events and in a Wild Card tournament. Once they win, they get an opportunity to advance to the national championship. From there, the best college angler earns a spot in the Bassmaster Classic.
Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series
Presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, the B.A.S.S. High School Nation provides opportunities for high school club members to compete in the B.A.S.S. High School Nation Opens and in the B.A.S.S. High School Nation Championship. The teen anglers can also attend the High School Elite Experience for free to those who live near the tour stops of the Bassmaster Elite Series.