Professional bass fishing has been through a lot since Ray Scott started the first bass fishing organization, Bass Angler’s Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) back in 1967. From then on bass fishing has taken the world by storm shaping the fishing industry and supporting conservation efforts along the way.
In the last 55 years, bass fishing has exploded with better equipment, career anglers, and more tournaments. There are more anglers fishing around the world than ever before fueling the fire for sponsors to pouring more money into these tournaments. While most anglers have heard of the Bassmaster classic, new organizations are putting on tournaments as well and they’e all about to kick off for the year.
B.A.S.S. organizes and puts on the Bassmaster Tournament Trails which is the oldest and arguably the most well-known professional bass fishing organization in the world. The most popular tournaments are the Bassmaster Elite Series and Opens which allow anglers to earn a spot in the coveted Bassmaster Classic.
The Bassmaster Classic or “The Classic” is a three-day tournament with the top anglers from the different tournament trails. This tournament is often called the greatest bass fishing tournament in the world with a cash prize of $300,000 and had an attendance of over 147,000 fans last year. It was recently announced that the 2022 Bassmaster Classic will be held March 4th on Lake Hartwell in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Bassmaster Elite Series will have its first tournament of the year on February 10th on St. Johns River and the Bassmaster Opens are set to start a little earlier with the first tournament starting February 3rd on the Kissimmee chain of lakes. The Junior, Highschool, and College Bassmaster tournament trails have already started for the year.
Major League Fishing has become the largest tournament fishing organization in less than 10 years. MLF started in 2012 with a TV show where anglers competed in a fishing tournament with a modern approach where fish are weighed and immediately released in an effort to promote conservation. The scores are automatically updated and competitors can see live standings throughout the tournament. MLF has created a new style of fishing tournament that has been used in many other organizations and competitions.
In 2019 MLF purchased Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) which was the largest grassroots-fishing organization. FLW was the first organization to have a one million dollar prize for winning a tournament and had 5 of the largest professional bass tournaments. All of these tournaments have now been incorporated with MLF.
The Major League Fishing Pro Tour kicks off for the year on February 5th at Lake D’Arbonne in Monroe, Louisiana. This tournament will take place over the course of six days and cover three different bodies of water.
The most recent addition to professional bass fishing is the National Professional Fishing League which launched in March of 2021. NPFL has a simple tournament structure that allows anglers to participate that either fish in other circuits or have full-time jobs. The tournaments have 110 anglers that compete on all three days and are ranked by highest total weight. Cash prizes are given to the top 36 competitors to make it so more anglers profit from each tournament.
The tournament schedule is comprised of six tournaments and a championship. The debut championship was set to take place last year but was unfortunately canceled. The championship for the 2022 season has also not been scheduled. Stop One for 2022 will be held February 20th on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Kentucky.
There is more pro bass fishing than ever with three major organizations putting on a total of almost 300 events every year. Whether you want to start fishing tournaments or are looking for something to watch on the weekends there is bound to be an event going on. While these events are great for entertainment or even picking up a trick here and there, it’s worth mentioning that all of these organizations support conservation. Bass fishing tournaments like these have pushed for clean water, improved habitat, and better management of fish stocks which is good for all anglers.