The concept of bass fishing competition has grown vastly over the course of the past few decades, not just in the number of actual competitive fishing events or in the number of anglers that fish in said events, but also in public consciousness and clout.
Today, bass fishing competitions are often proudly broadcast on television, where fishing enthusiasts can follow them closely from one catch to another. Furthermore, social media has changed the way that fishing fans follow their favorite anglers. And as for clout, the prize money and notoriety that comes with winning one of the big bass championships speak for themselves.
So what are the biggest and best bass fishing competitions currently being held, and which events should a new fishing fan focus their attention on in the coming year? We’ve compiled a list that answers both of those questions simultaneously.
1. The Bassmaster Classic: Since 1971, the Bassmaster Classic has been held, with its winner earning the temporary title of “the world champion of bass fishing.” And indeed, this competition is as close as bass fishing gets to a definitive event in the sport. For anglers, it’s the Superbowl, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup Finals all rolled into one awesome event. This year, the Classic will be held from February 21 to the 23, 2014 at Lake Guntersville, Alabama. 56 of the world’s most elite bass anglers will face off in the three-day competition, with the winner taking the trophy and the event’s coveted purse of $500,000.
2. The Forest Wood Cup: Not to be outdone by Bassmaster, FLW Outdoors has its own tour of events and its own championship that it touts as “the most prestigious event in bass fishing.” Named after Forest L. Wood – the founder of Ranger Boats – the FLW Championship takes place in mid to late August. (This year, the event will be held in Shreveport, Louisiana from August 15-18, 2014). A win at the Forest Wood Cup doesn’t seem to collect as much media attention as a win at the Bassmaster, but we’d wager the winning anglers aren’t complaining: FLW is the only fishing organization to offer a $1 million top prize for its championship event.
3. The U.S. Open of Bass Fishing: From golf to tennis, most solo sports have their U.S. Open, and fishing is no exception. Organized by WON Bass, the U.S. Open of Bass Fishing draws its own crowd of professionals and elites. If you are looking for events to watch, you’ll have to wait a little while for this one: the 2013 event took place in the beginning of September at Lake Mead near Las Vegas. The top prize can’t measure up to Bassmaster or FLW, but we still wouldn’t say no to winnings worth $80,000.
4. Toyota Angler of the Year: Okay, it’s not a single competition like the other three on the list, but the Angler of the Year race, sponsored by Toyota and sanctioned by B.A.S.S. (the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, the organization that runs Bassmaster) is still worth watching. Anglers participating in the Bassmaster Elite Series – which runs throughout most of the year – accumulate points based on their performance. At the end of the year – usually in late September – the top 50 point leaders participate in the Angler of the Year championship, with the winner taking the prestigious title.