Before the 2022 Bassmaster Elite season gets under way, you're going to want to catch yourself up.
Continuing the tradition of "Big Bass, Big Stage, Big Dreams," the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series season delivered on the drama, excitement, and emotional moments.
If you missed the action, or if you enjoy reminiscent journeys, here's an overview of key moments.
A "New" Day
After a 3-hour, Day-1 fog delay, rookie angler Bryan New of Saluda, South Carolina, launched his Elite career by winning the season-opener on the St. Johns River. Following three qualifying days, New entered Championship Sunday in sixth place, but adding a limit of 26 pounds, 4 ounces--the event's second-heaviest bag--gave him a four-day total of 79-7 and outpaced Elite veteran Greg Hackney by a 9-9 margin.
New caught his fish by throwing a Berkley Warpig lipless bait over main river shell bars and fishing a Texas-rigged Zoom Zlinky worm through pads in the lower end of the Lake George pool.
Lowen's Key Catch
Heavy rains had already swollen the Tennessee River prior to the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake, but a fierce storm and hazardous wind forecasts postponed the scheduled start for two days.
Once under way, anglers confronted high, muddy water and swift current, which presented new opportunities, while erasing others. Reverting to his Ohio River roots, Bill Lowen flipped laydowns, cypress trees, rocks, and other current breaks with a 3/8- to 1/2-ounce jig and a chunk trailer.
Lowen led Day 3, but struggled when Day 4 found receding waters had drained his key areas. With second-place finisher Brock Mosely--a Pickwick stick--boating several big fish on main lake current breaks, it appeared that Lowen's dream of his first Elite title was fizzling.
Making a key adjustment to deeper docks, Lowen skipped his jig under one he'd found in practice and came tight on the event's biggest fish--an 8-pound, 5-ounce largemouth that sealed his victory.
Christie Returns With a Vengeance
After stepping away from the Elite Series for two seasons, Oklahoma's Jason Christie punctuated his return by claiming his fourth Elite trophy on the always-tricky Sabine River. Leveraging his XPress aluminum boat's light, durable design, Christie made a two-hour run upriver and spent four days fishing a tiny backwater area.
Time and fuel calculations presented a daily challenge and fluctuating water levels nearly derailed Christie's campaign. Ultimately, prudent positioning and precise placement of his Texas-rigged YUM Spine Craw and Booyah Covert spinnerbaits delivered the winning total of 43 pounds, 15 ounces.
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Livesay "Tops" the Field
A year after claiming his first blue trophy at the 2020 Elite at Lake Chickamauga, Texan Lee Livesay won the Bassmaster Elite on Lake Fork with a 4-day total of 112 pounds, 5 ounces and became the 32nd angler to enter the prestigious Bassmaster Century Club (a 5-fish limit of 100 pounds or more).
For three days, Livesay had seen giant bass blasting big gizzard shad in meager depths. On Day 4, he figured out how to utilize a shallow bar to conceal his boat's approach and position himself to reach the fish with a bone-colored Heddon Saltwater Spook. Livesay's topwater tactics yielded a Championship Sunday limit of 42-3--the third-heaviest, single-day weight in Bassmaster history.
Double Dip: Second-place Patrick Walters caught 102-5 and earned his second Century Club belt, a year after catching 104-12 on Lake Fork, claiming his first belt and setting a Bassmaster record for the largest winning margin--29-10.
Kuphall Follows the Food
Spotting bass near super shallow bream beds in practice helped second-year Wisconsin pro Caleb Kuphall break down vast stretches of Lake Guntersville vegetation, identify specific areas where they'd likely fall back during the tournament and win his first Elite title with a 4-day total of 85 pounds, 14 ounces.
Smallmouth Theme Park
Prior to joining the Elite Series in 2020, Japanese superstar Takumi "Taku" Ito had never caught a smallmouth bass. At the St. Lawrence River event, he dialed in a sweet spot he named "Taku Disneyland" near Lake Ontario's Chaumont Bay, and tallied a 4-day winning total of 90 pounds.
Ito's dropshot and neko rig produced the event's heaviest bag--a 26-pound Day-4 limit--and earned him the Big Bass awards on days 3 and 4 for his 6-pounders.
Jeff Gustafson won the Tennessee River, while rookie Wes Logan won at Neely Henry Lake and Bryan Schmitt topped the Elite on Lake Champlain.
Minnesota pro Seth Feider cemented his place among the sport's top-tier talent by winning the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year title.
NEXT: B.A.S.S. VS. MLF: UNDERSTANDING THE DICHOTOMY OF PRO BASS FISHING
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