Bass Pro Shops is starting a high stakes tournament exclusively for regular fishermen and women.
Think big money prizes in fishing tournaments are strictly for the sponsored pros? Think again, Bass Pro Shops has announced a new big money and prize tournament for the benefit of conservation that's sure to get anglers across the country buzzing.
They're calling it the Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championship. Yes, you read that correctly, an amateur tournament with more than $4 million in cash and prizes on the line in which the company is calling "the grandest tournament in fishing history."
Anyone and everyone will welcome to participate regardless of skill level, and the finals will be broadcast live on NBC. It's an interesting new twist on the average fishing tournament. Here's all the details directly from Bass Pro Shops.
Who can compete and tournament structure.
Bass Pro Shops says this tournament is open only to amateur anglers, so no worries about competing against someone who fishes for a living. The company says they want to see people from "all walks of life" compete together in this one. It's going to be a qualifying-style tournament with eight regional qualifiers leading to the eventual Grand Championship at Table Rock Lake in Missouri on November 19, 2021. That's the tournament where the National Champion will receive a $1 million cash prize. There will also be a big fish prize of a Triton, Nitro or Ranger boat, a Toyota truck. Who wouldn't enjoy winning any of those?
To qualify for the final tournament and the chance at the big prizes, anglers simply need to finish in the top 40 at one of the regional qualifiers. The schedule for those is as follows:
- Lake Okeechobee, Fla. - March 13, 2021
- Lake Ray Roberts (Dallas), Texas - April 17, 2021
- Lake Mead, Nev. - April 24, 2021
- Chesapeake Bay, Md. - July 17, 2021
- Lake St. Clair (Detroit), Mich. - Aug. 21, 2021
- Old Hickory Lake (Nashville), Tenn. - Sept. 11, 2021
- Grand Lake 'O the Cherokees (Tulsa), Okla - Oct. 16, 2021
- Last Chance Qualifier: Bull Shoals Lake, Ark. - Nov. 17, 2021
Registration for the first three qualifiers will open on February 10 at 10 a.m. Central and will be open for 24 hours. Entries are limited to 250 two-person teams at each event, with a cap of 4,700 anglers total. If entry registrations run over that, they plan to do a lottery system to determine who will get to compete.
There are entry fees for this tournament. The cost is $450 per person. Youth anglers get a slight discount at $250 for ages 12-17. Anglers younger than 12 are free. Each competitor will get a gift bag worth approximately $150.
In addition, Bass Pro Shops says each of the qualifier events will have division payouts. They didn't detail all of them but did note in their press release that this includes "youth, family teams, all-female teams, veterans and more." On top of that, there will be additional prize categories within those divisions.
Bass Pro Founder Johnny Morris also plans to give some extra incentive to the young anglers with a $250,000 scholarship being awarded to an angler between the ages of 11-18. It is exclusively for a conservation-related area of study.
Speaking of conservation, while part of this tournament is celebrating 50 years of Bass Pro Shops, it is also about raising money for conservation causes. Bass Pro says tournament proceeds will support the National Fish Habitat Initiative with one-third of all fees going directly to that project. Toyota and Bass Pro Shops plan to match each donation to raise up to a minimum of $1 million for the cause.
The final tournament is slated to be a standard three-day fishing event. Anglers are looking for a five-fish limit based on overall weight at Missouri's Table Rock Lake. They are working with local conservation officials to release the fish following the weigh-in ceremonies. Table Rock Lake was chosen for the finals because it's a homecoming for Morris.
"Fishing in the first national BASS tournament on Table Rock Lake in 1970 rewarded me with friends for life and served as my inspiration to start Bass Pro Shops. Fishing on the BASS Tournament Circuit also helped keep us abreast of the latest emerging trends in fishing and enabled me to stay closely connected to our customers," Morris said in a press release. "This tournament is our way of giving thanks and rewarding our customers with the chance to land the catch of a lifetime. Beyond offering the ultimate prize in fishing, we're excited to celebrate our heritage, raise funds for conservation, and have some big fun with people who love fishing as much as we do."
In addition to Morris, there will be special guests like Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Country music star Chris Janson and many others in attendance at the tournaments.
We should note that the events are only open to owners of Tracker, Triton, Sun Tracker, Tahoe, Ranger and MAKO-branded boats during the competition. For more information on the tournament, see the Bass Pro Shops website.