Bassmaster Elite sets April 2018 return
The Bassmaster Elite Series will be coming to Orange and the Sabine River fishery for the third time in six years, B.A.S.S. announced Monday as it revealed its schedule of 2018 events.
The Orange stop is April 6-9. The city previously played host to Bassmaster Elite events in 2013 and 2015.
Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open was held in Orange in June, 2017.
The lineup includes stops at traditional venues like the Sabine River in Orange, Texas, and the St. Lawrence River in Waddington, N.Y., where crowds for past Elite Series events have always been huge. The schedule also features an eye-popping, first-time stop at scenic Lake Oahe on the Missouri River near Pierre, S.D.
An Elite Series tournament held on the Sabine River in 2013 obliterated previous attendance records by drawing 33,650 people for the four-day event in Orange. The event also reset the one-day Elite Series attendance record by drawing 14,950 fans for the Saturday semifinal weigh-in.
The overall record was broken later in 2013, when 34,100 people turned out for an August Elite Series event in Waddington, N.Y. But judging by the big turnout at a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open held in Orange in mid-June, the city could be ready for another run at the record.
B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin said he loves the flow of a schedule that will allow the Elite Series to visit old friends — and make a lot of new ones — during an eight-month stretch of next year’s calendar.
“We are very serious about taking bass fishing into new regions of the country and exposing as many people to our sport as we can,” Akin said. “But in doing that, we’ll never forget the people who have shown us so much support every time we’ve visited their communities.
“This schedule has some history, as well as some new adventures for our Elite anglers and fans, and I think that’s fantastic.”
As it did in 2017, the schedule will begin in early February in the southeastern United States — where the prevailing weather patterns could range from 20 degrees with sleet and snow to 60 degrees with a need for SPF 50.
The season opener is set for Lake Martin in Alexander City, Ala., on Feb. 8-11.
After Lake Martin, the Elites will take a break from the regular-season schedule, while the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is held on Lake Hartwell at Anderson, S.C., with weigh-ins and other events in Greenville, S.C. The annual Super Bowl of professional bass fishing is set for March 16-18 on the same lake where Casey Ashley claimed the 2015 title.
When the Classic buzz is barely three weeks old, the Elite Series schedule will resume with a trip to the Sabine River, where fans have proved their love for pro fishing time and again.
The third and fourth Elite Series tournaments of the year will also be held at familiar venues, with the trail stopping at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Grove, Okla., April 26-29, and at Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn., May 4-7. Grand Lake hosted the Classic in 2013 and 2016, and Kentucky Lake has been the site of a dozen high-level B.A.S.S. events, including the 2015 BASSfest.
The Elites will fish one more tournament in May — the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The special $1 million tournament combines the best features of the Texas Toyota Bass Classic and BASSfest and will be held May 17-20 at a location to be announced later.
Two postseason Elite Series events — the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship and the Classic Bracket — will be held in late September. Locations will be revealed at a later time.
2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Schedule
Date Event Fishery City, State
Feb. 8-11 Elite 1 Lake Martin Alexander City, Ala.
March 16-18 Bassmaster Classic Lake Hartwell Greenville/Anderson, S.C.
April 6-9 Elite 2 Sabine River Orange, Texas
April 26-29 Elite 3 Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees Grove, Okla.
May 4-7 Elite 4 Kentucky Lake Paris, Tenn.
May 17-20 Toyota Texas Fest TBA TBA
June 21-24 Elite 6 Mississippi River La Crosse, Wis.
June 29-July 2 Elite 7 Lake Oahe Pierre, S.D.
July 26-29 Elite 8 Upper Chesapeake Bay Havre de Grace, Md.
Aug. 23-26 Elite 9 St. Lawrence River Waddington, N.Y.
Sept. 20-23 AOY Championship TBA TBA
Sept. 25-28 Classic Bracket TBA TBA