California Angler Takes Over Lead In B.A.S.S. Nation Championship

Californian Randy Pierson has found much to like about his first trip to Alabama’s Pickwick Lake — Pierson took the lead today in the second round of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors.

Pierson of Oakdale, Calif., added 19 pounds, 12 ounces to Thursday’s catch, yielding an overall weight of 40-3 for two days of fishing on the Tennessee River impoundment. Joshua Miller of Roberts, Wis., held onto second place with an overall weight of 36-5, while Jacopo Gallelli of Firenze, Italy, moved into third place with 32-14. Kyle Dorsett of Odenville, Ala., is fourth with 32-8 and Mark Pierce of Cadiz, Ky., is fifth with 32 pounds.

Stronger current created by more water released upstream from Wilson Lake into Pickwick greatly benefited the top anglers on Friday.

“It definitely made the bite better while it lasted,” said Pierson, a member of the Oro Madre Bass Anglers. “I didn’t have a fish until 9:30; then the current turned up, and I had a flurry of activity until noon.”

Pierson is fishing specific areas where the bass are seeking refuge from the strong current behind rocks, where they feed on passing baitfish.

“My success is all about timing,” continued Pierson. “Being on the right place, at the right time, is the key.”

The same theory applied to the strategy in play for Miller, who caught 14-3 today after weighing 21-8 on Thursday.

“They were there again but my execution as an angler was off,” said Miller, a member of the St. Croix Bass Anglers. “I was just really nervous and wanted to make the Top 10 cut, which I did.”

On Thursday, Miller fished flawlessly, catching his five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds in his first seven casts of the day. On Saturday, there will be no holding back.

“I’m going to drop the hammer on them,” he said. “The early bite was off because they didn’t release as much water, but when they did, the fishing really picked up.”

Stronger current also made Dorsett’s fish more active. After catching 13-7 Thursday, he added 19-1 today to grab fourth with a total of 32-0.

“I had three bites yesterday and six today,” said Dorsett, a member of the Coosa River Anglers. “The bite slowed back down when less water was generated.”

Being on his best spots when the most water is generated is a must.

“I have the area to myself, so I can really try and dial into the fish on Saturday,” he added.

After taking the Thursday lead with a limit weighing 22-4, Pierce only caught three bass today weighing 9-12. Pierce’s self-described “hero or zero” strategy held true today as he dropped to fifth place.

“It’s the Tennessee River in the fall,” said Pierce, a member of the Montgomery County Bass Club in Clarksville, Tenn. “When you are fishing river flats covered in grass, it all comes down to being in the right place at the right time.”

Pierce knows all too well the nuances of this river as a regular club tournament angler on the fishery nearer his home.

“I believe the cold front has already impacted the bite, slowed them down in my area,” added Pierce.

Today the nonboater champion was determined. Tim Ward won the title with 30-3 after catching 15-14 today and 14-5 on Thursday. Ward of Sylacauga, Ala., advanced to the championship round on Saturday.

Ward won a Skeeter ZX190 with trailer, Yamaha outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics. He also received paid entry fees in the Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series division of his choice.

Ward gets to compete on Saturday from his boat as the nonboater champion. That was his goal for the tournament.

“I came here with that in mind and practiced really hard from my boat,” he said. “I prepared for this to happen, so I already have a plan in place for tomorrow.”

That makes winning the tournament his new goal. That is not a long shot, either. Louisiana nonboater Ryan Lavigne won the 2016 Championship, and Ward hopes to repeat the feat.

On Saturday the Top 3 pros earn invitations to bass fishing’s most prestigious event, the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The Classic is March 15-17, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn.

Those anglers also receive the “Nation’s Best” package, which includes paid entry fees into the 2019 Opens division of their choice, and the use of a fully rigged Phoenix boat for the year.

The overall winner receives an invitation to fish the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series, and $16,000 toward entry fees. He also receives a Nitro Z20, custom trailer with Mercury outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics.

The second-place finisher receives a Skeeter ZX190 with trailer, Yamaha outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics. The third-place angler wins a Triton 189 TrX and trailer, Yamaha outboard, and factory-installed accessories.

Takeoff begins at 6 a.m. CT Saturday at McFarland Park. The final weigh-in at the park begins at 2 p.m.

The Florence/Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau is event host.

Kentucky Angler Leads B.A.S.S. Nation Championship On Pickwick Lake

Mark Pierce is fishing what he describes as a “hero or zero” strategy on Pickwick Lake that put him in the lead after weighing-in 22-4 on Day 1 of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors.

“I’m going for a big bass, a quality bite that will either produce well or not at all,” said Pierce, of Cadiz, Ky.

Joshua Miller of Roberts, Wis., is second with 21-8, while Randy Pierson of Oakdale, Calif., is third with 20-7. David Cavell of Prairieville, La., is fourth with 18-11. Bob Bayless of Indianapolis, Ind., is fifth with 18-3.

“Today went as planned, and I’m fishing where big bass are known to live this time of year,” explained Pierce. “They are aggressive, hitting reaction baits.”

Although Pierce declined to mention specific lures, he said moving baits are ideal for the areas where he is targeting the quality bass.

All it took were the first seven casts of the day to put Miller in second place. After leaving the launch site at 6:15 a.m., he caught the five-bass limit by 6:38 a.m.

“I have the place to myself,” he added. “I just pulled up on that spot, and it was lights out.”

He checked other similar areas for the remainder of the day, catching a 4-pound smallmouth along the way.

“I fish the upper Mississippi River and am leveraging that knowledge here,” said Miller, a member of the St. Croix Bass Anglers. “It’s all about the current, and the more the better for me.”

Miller is fishing offshore in the heavy flow of the Tennessee River. Current is key because it positions his fish behind calm water created by large boulders on the river bottom. The current is created by discharges from Wheeler Dam, which empties into Pickwick.

“The flow is up around 60,000 cfs (cubic feet per second), and it could be more,” he explained.

“I checked three more spots, and they were there too,” he continued. “I have five more areas just like those and will try them tomorrow if needed.”

Pierson brought a California tactic to Alabama to leverage his strong catch. As his pattern came together it built momentum and proved to be solid, reliable and filled with promise.

“I’ve discovered the same two types of productive cover in multiple locations,” said Pierson, a member of the Oro Madre Bass Anglers. “I didn’t realize just how good it was until today.”

Pierson intentionally avoided catching too many fish from his areas during practice to save the bite for the competition. The more water he covered the more fish he caught.

“I’m using three different lures and can switch to spinning gear and continue using them if the weather dictates making the change,” he added.

Switching from casting tackle might become necessary if the fish grow finicky following a predicted cold snap.

“The unknown is the weather because this is my first tournament on Pickwick,” added Pierson. “So I have no idea of what to expect tomorrow.”

Cavell only caught two bass during practice. He rebounded after weighing four bass that included a largemouth weighing 8-4, his personal best for a tournament.

“I wasn’t on anything during practice and could have caught 23 pounds today, counting the lost fish,” said the Ascension Area Bassmasters club member. “The pattern came together later in the day, so I’ll have tomorrow to figure it out more.”

Weather is destined to be a key influencer on the bass fishing. Rising water, falling temperatures and lots of cold rain are forecasted. Fall could turn to winter by Saturday, when the temperature struggles to reach the mid-40s.

The catch here is spotted bass, largemouth and smallmouth in the 43,000-acre Tennessee River fishery. The mostly sought largemouth become lethargic following cold fronts, while smallmouth become more active. Pickwick is one of the nation’s premier smallmouth lakes, and it has a chance to show itself this week.

Joining anglers from 47 states are B.A.S.S. Nation representatives from five continents. Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Portugal, France, Italy, Zimbabwe, Namibia and the Republic of South Africa are the foreign nations represented in the championship.

Boater and nonboater anglers from each state or nation qualified for the championship. So did Kenneth Carter, the national champion of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tour.

On the nonboater side, Travis Lugar of Virginia took the lead with 15-8. Lugar fished with North Carolina angler Norman Mullinax, whose limit weighed 11-5.

“We put something together; they just came up all around us,” said Lugar, a member of the Rockingham Bass Anglers. “My boater partner allowed me to try out my area, and it worked.”

The Top 3 finishers from the championship earn berths in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which is set for March 15-17 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Those anglers also receive the “Nation’s Best” package, which includes paid entry fees into the 2019 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens division of their choice, and the use of a fully rigged Phoenix boat for the year.

The overall winner receives an invitation to fish the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series, and $16,000 toward entry fees. He also receives a Nitro Z20, custom trailer with Mercury outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics.

The second-place finisher and nonboater winner each receive a Skeeter ZX190 with trailer, Yamaha outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics. The third-place finisher wins a Triton 189 TrX and trailer, Yamaha outboard, and factory-installed accessories.

The competition concludes Saturday. Daily takeoffs begin at 6 a.m. CT at McFarland Park. Weigh-ins at the park begin at 2 p.m.

The Florence/Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau is event host.

Bass Pro Shops Signs Multiyear Agreement To Sponsor B.A.S.S. And Bassmaster Events

Bass Pro Shops has signed a multiyear agreement to sponsor B.A.S.S. and Bassmaster events, B.A.S.S. announced today.

Under the agreements, Triton and Nitro will continue as premier, official boat sponsors of B.A.S.S. tournaments, including the Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, the Bassmaster Elite Series, the Bassmaster Opens Series, B.A.S.S. Nation competitions, and the College and High School Series tournaments.

Bass Pro Shops becomes a supporting sponsor of the Bassmaster Elite Series, a supporting and title sponsor of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, supporting and presenting sponsor of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops and supporting sponsor of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series.

“Triton and Nitro are among the most popular bass boat brands in America today, and we are pleased that they will again be showcased through their sponsorship of the Classic, Bassmaster Elite Series and other Bassmaster competitions,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO.

“In addition, the support Bass Pro Shops is providing for our Opens, College, High School and other Bassmaster events is invaluable to our fans and the anglers competing in those tournament series,” Akin said. “This partnership not only serves our millions of fans and followers, but it also provides great opportunities for B.A.S.S. and Bass Pro Shops to reach new audiences and to grow the great sport of bass fishing.”

“We’re very proud to expand upon our longstanding support for B.A.S.S. through these significant partnerships with our fishing brands,” said Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine group founder Johnny Morris, himself a five-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “B.A.S.S. events help us advance our goal to connect more people to nature by engaging people of all ages and skill levels to the great sport of fishing.”

Under the agreement, all White River Marine and Bass Pro Shops brands will receive exhibit space in the extremely popular Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, as well as at Elite Series expos and other Bassmaster events during the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons.

As in previous years, most final-day weigh-ins for Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens tournaments will be held at the nearest Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s stores.

Triton also will award two $500 scholarships to the winners of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Championship.

The agreement includes advertising and promotion on behalf of Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine brands in B.A.S.S.’s industry-leading media, including Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times magazines, Bassmaster.com, Bassmaster LIVE programming and The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2.

“B.A.S.S. and Bass Pro Shops share common roots, dating back all the way to the earliest days of B.A.S.S., when Johnny Morris was a Classic competitor and a rising star in our professional tournaments,” Akin added. “And we share a common dedication to conserving our natural resources and promoting sportfishing as a family recreation. We are especially grateful to see the history of our sport showcased in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame located within Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.”

Field For The 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Features Familiar Faces, Rising Stars

With another season just three months away, B.A.S.S. officials announced Wednesday that the field for the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series has been set.

The prestigious circuit, which will feature higher payouts and lower entry fees than ever before, will consist of 75 anglers (about 40 fewer than last year), including three who have won both the Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods and the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.

The season-opening event is scheduled for Feb. 7-10 on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Fla.

“Every year when our anglers leave the takeoff site for the opening day of the first tournament, the excitement in the air is just amazing — and that will certainly be true this year,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “As in past years, we have some familiar faces who have already accomplished great things with us.

“Then, we also have some new anglers who are bound and determined to become superstars themselves.”

Missouri legend Rick Clunn, who owns four Classic trophies and the 1988 AOY award is back from last year’s Elite Series field, along with North Carolina pro David Fritts, who won the 1993 Classic and the 1994 AOY trophy. Jay Yelas, a veteran Texas pro who won the 2002 Classic title and 2003 AOY award, will also be joining the Elite Series after several years with other circuits.

Other big names returning from last year’s Elite field will be Keith Combs, a two-time B.A.S.S. winner who is right on the cusp of the $1 million mark for career earnings, 2016 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship tournament winner Seth Feider of Minnesota and Nevada pro Chris Zaldain, who holds two B.A.S.S. wins of his own.

Elite Series stalwarts John Crews, Mark Menendez, Bernie Schultz, Matt Herren, Clifford Pirch and Steve Kennedy are also back, along with 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Jake Whitaker. A final spot will be added based on the top finisher from the 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors.

The field will have a distinct international flavor with popular Australian pro Carl Jocumsen joining the circuit, along with Canadian pros Chris Johnston, Cory Johnston and Jeff Gustafson and Japanese angler Yusuke Miyazaki.

“We’ve got a great mix of competitors in every conceivable way,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. “We have anglers from all over the United States and a few from around the world. We’ve got established pros who have seen a little bit of everything and some young guys who have been waiting on the opportunity to make their dreams come true.”

After the kickoff tournament on the St. Johns River and a second event scheduled for Feb. 14-17 on Georgia’s Lake Lanier, the Elite Series schedule will pause for the Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on March 15-17 on the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tenn. Seven more regular-season Elites will be held between April and August, including the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest on May 2-6 at Lake Fork, Texas. Then, the season will conclude with the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, which will be held at a date and site yet to be determined.

The Bassmaster Classic, Texas Fest and the Angler of the Year Championship will all feature $1 million payouts with no entry fee.

Regular-season Elite Series events will feature a full field of 75 anglers for the first two days, 20 during the semifinal round and 10 on Championship Sunday. Instead of only the top half of the field being paid — as they were in the past — all participants will leave this year’s events with a check. The winner will still earn $100,000 and the prestigious blue trophy that has become synonymous with Elite Series victory, and the angler who finishes in 75th place will earn $2,500.

The popular Bassmaster LIVE show on Bassmaster.com, which generated over 2.8 million video views and 65 million minutes of content consumed by fans in 2018, will be produced all four days of 2019 Elite Series events instead of just the final three days of an event as in the past. There will also be live-streaming cameras on all 20 boats for the semifinal round, as well as Bassmaster LIVE cameras on all 10 anglers for Championship Sunday.

“We celebrated our 50th anniversary at B.A.S.S. this year,” Akin said. “But even after a half-century of excellence, we’re not slowing down in our efforts to create the best opportunities possible for all of our anglers.

“With the field we’ve just announced and the format changes we’ve made, we have some really exciting days ahead.”

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Field

            Name                                       Hometown/State

1.        Matt Arey                                 Shelby, N.C.

2.        Todd Auten                              Lake Wylie, S.C.

3.        Drew Benton                            Panama City, Fla.

4.        Stetson Blaylock                      Benton, Ark.

5.        Scott Canterbury                      Odenville, Ala.

6.        Quentin Cappo                         Prairieville, La.

7.        Brandon Card                           Knoxville, Tenn.

8.        Tyler Carriere                           Youngsville, La.

9.        Hank Cherry                             Lincolnton, N.C.

10.     Gary Clouse                               Winchester, Tenn.

11.     Rick Clunn                                 Ava, Mo.

12.     Brandon Cobb                            Greenwood, S.C.

13.     Keith Combs                              Huntington, Texas

14.     Drew Cook                                 Midway, Fla.

15.     John Crews Jr.                            Salem, Va.

16.     Clent Davis                                 Montevallo, Ala.

17.     Rob Digh                                    Denver, N.C.

18.     Greg DiPalma                             Millville, N.J.

19.     Seth Feider                                 Bloomington, Minn.

20.     Micah Frazier                             Newnan, Ga.

21.     David Fritts                                Lexington, N.C.

22.     Chris Groh                                 Spring Grove, Ill.

23.     Jeff Gustafson                            Keewatin, Ontario, Canada

24.     Skylar Hamilton                        Dandridge, Tenn.

25.     Ray Hanselman                         Del Rio, Texas

26.     Jamie Hartman                          Newport, N.Y.

27.     Matt Herren                               Ashville, Ala.

28.     Dale Hightower                         Manford, Okla.

29.     Harey Horne                              Bella Vista, Ark.

30.     Derek Hudnall                           Baton Rogue, La.

31.     Mike Huff                                  Corbin, Ky.

32.     Kelley Jaye                                Dadeville, Ala.

33.     Carl Jocumsen                           Frisco, Texas

34.     Chris Johnston                           Otonabee, Ontario, Canada

35.     Cory Johnston                           Cavan, Ontario, Canada

36.     Steve Kennedy                          Auburn, Ala.

37.     Koby Kreiger                             Bokeelia, Fla.

38.     Robbie Latuso                           Gonzales, La.

39.     Shane Lehew                            Charlotte, N.C.

40.     Brandon Lester                         Fayetteville, Tenn.

41.     Shane Lineberger                      Lincolnton, N.C.

42.     Lee Livesay                              Longview, Texas

43.     Ed Loughran III                        Mechanicsville, Va.

44.     Bill Lowen                                Brookville, Ind.

45.     Mark Menendez                        Paducah, Ky.

46.     Yusuke Miyazaki                      Forney, Texas

47.     Kyle Monti                                Okeechobee, Fla.

48.     Chad Morgenthaler                   Reeds Spring, Mo.

49.     Rick Morris                               Lake Gaston, Va.

50.     Brock Mosley                            Collinsville, Miss.

51.     Paul Mueller                             Naugatuck, Conn.

52.     David Mullins                           Mount Carmel, Tenn.

53.     Luke Palmer                             Coalgate, Okla.

54.     Garrett Paquette                       Canton, Mich.

55.     Chad Pipkens                           Lansing, Mich.

56.     Clifford Pirch                           Payson, Ariz.

57.     Brett Preuett                             Monroe, La.

58.     Cliff Prince                               Palatka, Fla.

59.     Tyler Rivet                                Raceland, La.

60.     Bernie Schultz                          Gainesville, Fla.

61.     Hunter Shryock                         Newcomerstown, Ohio

62.     Brian Snowden                         Reeds Spring, Mo.

63.     Randy Sullivan                         Breckenridge, Texas

64.     Caleb Sumrall                           New Iberia, La.

65.     Jesse Tacoronte                         Orlando, Fla.

66.     Frank Talley                             Temple, Texas

67.     Patrick Walters                         Summerville, S.C.

68.     Bill Weidler                              Helena, Ala.

69.     Clark Wendlandt                       Leander, Texas

70.     Brad Whatley                            Bivins, Texas

71.     Jake Whitaker                           Fairview, N.C.

72.     Jason Williamson                     Wagener, S.C.

73.     Jay Yelas                                   Lincoln City, Ore.

74.     Chris Zaldain                            Laughlin, Nev.

75.    TBD - 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors

New Junior Division Unveiled As B.A.S.S. Announces College And High School Slates For 2019

Just when it seemed B.A.S.S. couldn’t possibly provide more competitive opportunities for anglers, the organization announced today that it will be adding a Junior Bassmaster Division to its annual slate of events in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series.

 Read more...
Avena, Lane, Swindle Win Final Matches At Bassmaster Classic Bracket On Carters Lake

Adrian Avena told his followers on social media Thursday night that Friday’s final round of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Classic Bracket on Carters Lake would be the most important six hours of his career.

 Read more...
Six Anglers Advance To Final Round Of Bassmaster Classic Bracket On Carters Lake

The picture is steadily growing clearer at the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Classic Bracket on Carters Lake, with the two-day semifinal round now complete and six anglers qualified for Friday’s finals.

 Read more...
Carters Lake Proves Demanding During Semifinals Of Bassmaster Classic Bracket

Twelve anglers took part in six head-to-head matchups during Wednesday’s semifinal round of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Classic Bracket on Carters Lake.

 Read more...
Twelve Anglers Advance After First Round of Bassmaster Classic Bracket on Carters Lake

The first round of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Classic Bracket on Carters Lake was a one-day tournament to determine the seeding for three separate competitions that will each send an angler to the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

With that one-day tournament in the history books, the stakes will now get higher every moment until the Classic Bracket concludes Friday. Read more...

Bassmaster Opens Winners In 2019 Can Qualify For The 50th Bassmaster Classic

After a one-year experiment with a Bassmaster Opens Championship, B.A.S.S. is returning to the popular “win-and-you’re-in” qualifying system from the Opens to the Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

 Read more...
Jared Lintner Wins Bassmaster Opens Championship At Table Rock

Dialing into the details was the ticket to victory for Jared Lintner, winner of the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Championship on Table Rock Lake.

 Read more...