Fishing Bassmaster Elite Series in 2019

Over the past few months, there have been some sweeping changes in the professional bass fishing landscape.
For the past couple of decades, the FLW Tour and the Bassmaster Elite Series have been the premier high-end bass tournament circuits. But that all changed in September when Major League Fishing announced a new circuit for the 2019 season called the Bass Pro Tour.
The new Bass Pro Tour invited 80 anglers–68 from Bassmaster and 12 from the FLW Tour–for its new circuit.
If you’ve ever watched the Major League Fishing TV shows, the tournament format for its new circuit is going to be just like the TV show in that instead of a traditional five-fish limit that anglers bring to the scales, anglers have a marshal in the boat who weighs each fish they catch and anglers try to catch as many as they can in a day.
It’s a neat format but I’m not sure I would like to fish a whole season of that type of tournament.
While I missed getting an invite for the new circuit, I did get invited to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2019, which I have accepted. For me, it wasn’t necessarily an easy decision but it was one I had to go for.
You won’t ever hear me say anything bad about FLW–it has provided a platform for many anglers over the years with a dream to fish for a living. I have made so many friends fishing these tournaments for the past six years and learned a lot along the way.
The upside to fishing the Elite Series is that there is a much smaller field, consisting of 75 anglers versus the 180-angler field we had last year on the FLW Tour. This is going to make it much more enjoyable to fish a lot of these lakes down south that are not as big as our big lakes here in Sunset Country.
It also allows anglers to get more media attention because there are less of them to cover. For me, tournament winnings are a part of my income; the other part comes from sponsor support so the more opportunity I have to promote my sponsors by showing people how I use my equipment, the better.
The Bassmaster Classic, the championship event of the Elite Series, is similar to the Forrest Wood Cup but on a slightly bigger scale. It has been hailed as the Super Bowl of bass fishing and my goal next year will be to qualify for this event.
It has the same $300,000 first-place prize the FLW Cup has, but the crowds that attend the event are much larger and the media attention is greater.
The schedule should suit me better, as well. Of the nine events in 2019, I have been to five of the venues in the past and a couple are at lakes where I have done well.
Traditionally, Bassmaster also has at least a couple of tournaments up north each year, which should be beneficial to me. I’ll fish one tournament in June, then get July off, and we finish off the season with two tournaments in August in New York state, so I won’t miss too much of our beautiful summer here at home.
I will have some fellow Canadians joining me next year as Chris and Cory Johnston from Peterborough have been invited and will move over from the FLW Tour, as well. We all have become good buddies fishing over the past few years, so we’ll travel and stay together at some of the events.
Finally, the emcee for the Elite Series events is Canadian Dave Mercer, who hosts his own TV program, “Facts of Fishing.” I know Dave from working with him at many boats shows over the years so that will be fun.
2019 should be an exciting year and I can’t wait to get the new tournament season started.