Editor's note: BASS has introduced sweeping adjustments to its tournament format. We've asked the experts what they think about the changes.
Rise of entries and paybacks
This change is a catch-22.
The negative is obvious: Some current pros, unfortunately, will, not be able to afford the entry fees. Is $55,000 a huge commitment for a pro and incredibly intimidating? Of course!
Fishing and NASCAR are always being compared and, to me, the biggest comparison is that it takes a lot of money to play at the highest level of each sport.
Do I like to drive cars fast? Yep, but it's not the organization's duty to get the cost down to where I can compete against Tony Stewart.
Professional fishing is a business. Just like any other business, you have to spend money to make money.
The bottom line is that it simply comes down to performance; if you get past the entry fees, the paybacks are there.
From a fan's standpoint, this is what we've been waiting for. It's been kind of a bummer when the season ends in the middle of July, because it's so long fishing until next year.
From a fishing standpoint, we've only seen who the best springtime anglers are under the current schedule. What happened to the days of David Fritts slinging crankbaits in the fall on Kerr Lake and Jay Yelas pounding them every cast on the Potomac River every October in the mid-1990s?
By expanding the Elite Series schedule, those days will be back … and the fans will see the best all-around anglers.
Doubling the Angler of the Year purse
Over the past 20 years I always believed winning the Bassmaster Classic was the biggest goal of all professional fishermen. What may surprise many fishing fans is the hunt for an Angler of the Year title is just as important to these pros.
To many pros, the AOY trophy is the most sought after title in the sport today. In the past there has never been a huge emphasis put on this by the organization.
If you are the most consistent pro for a whole year, it only seems fitting to have a payback that recognizes it accordingly. This title just got the attention it always deserved.
Pros granted more use of their personal boats
This has been something pros have wanted to change big time in the last few years.
Could you imagine the PGA telling Tiger Woods he had to use different clubs on the final day of each tournament? Having to fish with unfamiliar equipment is just plain weird.
Do I understand why boat companies want their boats used during competition? Absolutely, and I don't blame them.
But a boat is the biggest tool a fisherman uses during competition, and handing him a tool he's not accustomed to during the most critical time of an event just seems wrong.