The money taken away from the lower spots will be put into the Angler of the Year purse. B.A.S.S. has increased the total amount for the AOY payout to $900,000. The entry fee per Elite event remains at $5,000 per tournament. With the new pay structure, anglers place 41 and below only break even.
Apparently the anglers voiced their concerns, rather loudly. Officials over at B.A.S.S. were listening. Of course they were not thinking when they decided to slash the top slot amount for the Classic winner. According to Bassfan.com, beginning in 2014 the Classic champion will pocket only $300,000 compared to $500,000 since 2006. That is a 40 percent cut for the winner.
Bassfan.com reports money from the Classic purse now goes back in the Elite tournament payout.
As it currently stands, Elite pros from 41st place and down will receive $8,000 per event. B.A.S.S. officials stated this would help the anglers cover entry fees and expenses.
The Classic has long been the premier event in the bass fishing world. Winning the Classic meant you were the best angler in the world. It seems to me B.A.S.S. is underrating the Classic and attempting to put more emphasis on the AOY race. Isn’t this what NASCAR did with the Chase?
I’ll agree the AOY is a prestigious award. And every pro angler wants to win the AOY trophy. There are a handful of Elite pros that puts the AOY title above a Classic win. But, in the past winning the Classic has moved the top anglers to a new plateau in terms of notoriety and with sponsorships.
For a couple of years FLW paid out $1 million bucks to the winner of the Forrest L. Wood Cup. But with the economy down they reverted back to $500,000 top prize for the Cup. With the announcement from B.A.S.S. on the cut of the Classic purse, FLW now holds the largest purse for professional bass fishing championship.
Also, B.A.S.S. has muddied the waters with rules, points and payouts for their BASSFest. This event is scheduled for June on Lake Chickamauga near Chattanooga. Elite and Open anglers will compete together, but only the Elites will receive points.
The BASSFest is slated to bring back the atmosphere of the past Classics that were held in the summer. The event is scheduled to provide activities and fun for families. BASSFest should be exciting for visitors, but the anglers may have a tough time trying to figure out the rules and where they will be fishing.
B.A.S.S. is attempting to please all parties at the expense of downgrading the Classic winner. Their thoughts are the Classic champion will profit from endorsements to make up the difference in the paycheck. Who knows what will happen? B.A.S.S. has made their cast, now we’ll have to wait to see if it is on target.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoors editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com