From the muddied waters of Georgia’s Lake Seminole, to the heart of the fifth most populous city in the U.S., to the windy shores of Lake Michigan, the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series has made bass fishing history and left some impressions in its wake.
With a record-setting total of 128,600 people in attendance throughout the eight regular-season events and the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, the Elite Series has reached new heights in attracting fans to the sport of bass fishing.
“This year was so successful because we have been able to establish and strengthen our relationships with each venues’ host organizations,” said Eric Lopez, director of events at B.A.S.S. “In addition to what B.A.S.S. brings, we look to the host cities to provide traditional event entertainment such as concerts and fireworks — anything that you would normally see at a weekend festival. It’s clearly working and enticing more individuals and families to come out for two and three days to see all the fishing action.”
At all Elite events visitors are invited to enjoy an outdoors expo, where the newest boats, motors, fishing tackle, lures and other sporting goods are on display. Fishing fans and their families are invited to discover everything bass fishing, and all Bassmaster events are free and open to the public.
This year B.A.S.S. introduced its premier professional fishing league to a new market at the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pa. This event marked the first time B.A.S.S. had held an Elite Series tournament in a truly metropolitan area, exposing a variety of different people to bass fishing.
“Philadelphia, by far, was our most successful tournament with attendance because we weren’t sure what to expect going into it,” Lopez said. “Everyone we worked with, from the city to the venue, was great. We knew it would be a good event, but we didn’t know it would end up being our third highest attended event in Elite Series history.”
B.A.S.S. has set the bar high for the 2015 Elite Series tournament trail and is looking forward to continuing the attendance trend.
“I’m as nervous as I am excited,” Lopez said. “When you have a year like this, you celebrate for five minutes, and then you start thinking, ‘Oh, no! How do we top this?’”
With the ever-present goal of continuous improvement, the Bassmaster Elites will head West in 2015. The third Elite of the year will be staged out of Sacramento, Calif., were the most competitive anglers in the sport will battle it out on the Sacramento River April 30-May 3. Following the California event, the Elite anglers will converge on Lake Havasu City, Ariz., May 7-10, for a chance to prove their skills on Lake Havasu.
“I’m most excited about B.A.S.S. continuing to expose the sport to new markets,” Lopez said. “And, looking at our 2015 schedule, we’re really going to be afforded that opportunity. We don’t travel out West that often, so when we do, it’s a big deal for our anglers and our fans. We definitely anticipate next year’s schedule is going to be very popular.”
Image courtesy Gary Tramontina/Bassmaster