Thursday, August 31, 2023

2024 Bass Pro Tour dates and locations set

BENTON, Ky. – Major League Fishing announced today the schedule for the sixth season of professional bass fishing’s most competitive circuit – the 2024 Bass Pro Shops Bass Pro Tour. The 2024 season will showcase the world’s top professional bass anglers competing across seven regular-season tournaments for millions of dollars, valuable points in the Bally Bet Angler of the Year race, and qualification into REDCREST 2025 and the General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event. 

“We are proud to roll out a schedule with seven new destinations that have never before hosted a Bass Pro Tour event,” said Kathy Fennel, MLF Executive Vice President & General Manager. “Our MLF tournaments create exciting and compelling content for our fans and sponsors. This schedule shines a light on some locations that haven’t hosted a major bass-fishing tournament in some time. The stage is set for a very exciting 2024 season.”

Locations and Dates Below

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Cifuentes secures Bassmaster Rookie of the Year title

Joey Cifuentes III of Clinton, Ark., has won the 2023 Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year points race. (Photo: BASS)


CLAYTON, N.Y. — Despite some anxious moments on the final day of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, “The Cowboy” rode off into the sunset with some major new hardware to admire.


With a total of 698 points, Joey Cifuentes III secured the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year title, holding off a hard-charging Kyoya Fujita for the prestigious honor.


Not only did Cifuentes earn the $10,000 top prize, he finished fifth in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings and will compete in his first Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota in Tulsa next March.


“It was one of my goals coming into this year,” Cifuentes said. “It is a really tough thing to do, but I am really proud of myself. I fished really well and made the right decisions. It feels really good.”


The Clinton, Ark., pro entered the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a 15-point lead over Fujita, who has won four AOY titles in his home country of Japan. That lead dwindled as the event progressed and Fujita qualified for Championship Sunday.


Cifuentes, who finished 17th, had to watch the final day from the sidelines but knew Fujita would have to win it all to unseat him as ROY.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Kyle Welcher become 2023 Bassmaster Angler of the Year!


CLAYTON, N.Y. — After a season of incredible consistency, Kyle Welcher saved his best for last.


Welcher is currently in second place with 79 pounds, 5 ounces at the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River — and by guaranteeing himself at least a Top 10 finish, he locked up the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.


A fourth-year Elite from Opelika, Ala., Welcher outlasted South Carolina pros Brandon Cobb and Patrick Walters to win the AOY title and the $100,000 prize that comes with it.


Official point totals will be determined after the Day 4 weigh-in.


“I don’t think it has really set in yet. I can’t believe it is true yet,” Welcher said. “It is my biggest accomplishment so far. I’m super proud of it and I feel like it will be a good kickstarter.”


The title comes after a disappointing 2022 season that saw Welcher finish 69th in AOY points, well outside of the cut for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota. While he didn’t necessarily change his approach, Welcher said he found ways to execute and find consistency.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Patrick Walters Wins the 2023 Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River!

Canadians: Chris Johnston 2nd & Cory Johnston 6th

Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., has won the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a four-day total of 105 pounds.  (Photo: Seigo Saito/BASS)


CLAYTON, N.Y. — Safe to say, Patrick Walters now loves northern smallmouth bass.


Overcoming what he had previously considered one of his few limitations, the fifth-year pro from Summerville, S.C., caught the heaviest 20-fish total of smallmouth in Bassmaster history — 105 pounds — and won the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.


“I used to not be able to catch 17 pounds on this river when 25 pounds a day was still good,” Walters said. “That’s what means the world to me — how bad I truly was at it and to come back and catch (over) 100 pounds of smallmouth and win.


“This one means more than my first Elite win (Lake Fork, 2020). I could not do it without my family — my mom and dad here and my wife back home. My wife’s grandfather passed away during last week’s tournament at Lake Champlain. I felt like he was with me throughout this week.”


Along with the $100,000 top prize, Walters received an automatic berth into the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota scheduled for Tulsa, Okla., in March. He also received his third Bassmaster century belt, which recognizes a 20-bass total of 100 pounds or more.


Turning in daily weights of 24-14, 27-3, 28-5 — Day 3’s heaviest bag — and 24-10, Walters edged Canadian superstar Chris Johnston by 1-4.


Walters earned his first Century Club belt in his 2020 victory at Lake Fork and added another one the following year with a second-place finish at Fork. With this week’s performance, Walters became the first angler in Bassmaster history to break the 100-pound mark with largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

2023 Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River Day 3: Patrick Walters Take Control; Welcher Wins Angler of the Year!

Canadians: Christ Johnston 3rd, Cory Johnston 7th  & Gallant 18th

Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., is leading after Day 3 of the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a three-day total of 80 pounds, 6 ounces.  (Photo: BASS)


CLAYTON, N.Y. — Patrick Walters had a solid game plan, but calling a Day 1 audible ultimately allowed him to reach the three-day total of 80 pounds, 6 ounces that leads the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.


“I threw back a 5-2 and a 5-3 today,” said Walters, a Summerville, S.C., native vying for his fifth B.A.S.S. win. “When I culled those fish, I knew I’d have a great day and it was time to head to the hill.”


Walters started strong with a Day 1 limit of 24-14, then added 27-3 on Friday. Semifinal Saturday saw him catch 28-5 — his best bag so far and the event’s second-heaviest catch. He heads into Championship Sunday with a 1-1 advantage over Kyle Welcher.


Hailing from Opelika, Ala., Welcher locked up the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year title Saturday. The award comes with a $100,000 first-place prize.


“I really can’t even believe it’s true just yet,” Welcher said in his trademark measured tone. “This is going to be my proudest moment in fishing for a long time.”


Days 2 and 3 saw Walters making an hour-long run into Lake Ontario, where he targeted unpressured fish over shoals on the Canadian side. When Day 1 brought strong southerly winds and 6- to 8-foot waves, Walters decided to forgo the rough ride and fish at the mouth of the St. Lawrence.


Doing so gave his spot a rest and when Walters fished there the next two days, he caught his fish quickly. That allowed him time to locate other spots, some of which contributed to his limits.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

2023 Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River Day 2: Welcher Grabs Lead!

Canadians: Chris Johnston 2nd, Gallant 9th, Cory Johnston 12th  & Gustafson 51st. 

Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., is leading after Day 2 of the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a two-day total of 53 pounds, 6 ounces.  (Photo: BASS)


CLAYTON, N.Y. — If you’re going to have a superlative moment, do it when there’s a lot on the line.


Following that sentiment, Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., sacked up the biggest bag of smallmouth bass he’s ever caught and surged into the lead on Day 2 of the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a total weight of 53 pounds, 6 ounces.


“Today was an absolutely phenomenal day,” said Welcher, who also leads the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. “That was, by far, the best day of smallmouth fishing I’ve ever had. Yesterday was my second-best day of smallmouth fishing.


“There’s still two days to go. It’s fun to catch them really well, but it’s like the saying, ‘What a difference a day makes.’ I’m just going to try to make good adjustments, stay on top of the fish and catch them.”


After tying Matty Wong of Honolulu, Hawaii, for fifth place on Day 1 with 25-10, Welcher added 27-12 — the second day’s biggest bag. He anchored his Day 2 bag with the day’s biggest bass — a 6-8.


Heading into Semifinal Saturday, Welcher holds an 8-ounce lead over Canadian superstar Chris Johnston, who won the 2020 Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River.


Along with the $100,000 first-place prize and the coveted blue trophy, the final event of the season will award a berth in the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota scheduled for March 22-24 in Tulsa, Okla. Welcher said that positioning himself well for the AOY title and a Classic qualification follows his season goals.

Friday, August 25, 2023

2023 Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River Day1: Bryant Smith Smashes Smallmouth Tournament Record!

Canadians: Chris Johnston 2nd, Gallant 3rd, Cory Johnston 51st  & Gustafson 55th  

Bryant Smith set a new B.A.S.S. record when he put five smallmouth bass on the scale that weighed 29 pounds, 5 ounces (Photo: BASS)


CLAYTON, N.Y. —Elite Series rookie Bryant Smith set a new B.A.S.S. record when he put five smallmouth bass on the scale that weighed 29 pounds, 5 ounces, Thursday. That broke a 25-year-old record set by Chuck Economou of 29-1 at Pickwick Lake in 1988.

And here’s the thing, Smith said he caught and released a heavier best five, unofficially, in practice on Wednesday.

“On my scale, it was almost 32 pounds,” Smith said. “That scared the crap out of me because usually when I have a day like that, I get so locked in that I struggle the next day or in the tournament. I don’t like having a good practice.”

Smith’s record-setting smallmouth limit was the headliner on the first day of the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River. But there were plenty of other accolades on a day when Lake Ontario’s rough water made fishing conditions less than ideal.

Chris Johnston weighed-in what is now the fourth-biggest smallmouth bag in Elite Series history with 28-3. His brother Cory’s 28-8 last year is the only other heavier one, after Smith’s and Economou’s.

If this was just the opening fireworks show, it could really get spectacular if lesser winds make more of Lake Ontario accessible the next three days. While this year’s Day 1 when 48 anglers weighed limits of 20 pounds or better, didn’t match last year’s Day 1 total of 61, it created some high anticipation for the next three days when the 2023 Elite Series season comes to an end.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Pure Fishing at risk of full default despite parent company’s efforts

Originally posted by Angling International

Sycamore Partners, the equity group that bought Pure Fishing in 2019, has repurchased the company’s entire $255 million second-lien term loan, reports financial information and analytics firm S&P Global Ratings, which describes the move as ‘tantamount to a default.’

S&P also warns that, despite this move to reduce Pure Fishing’s debt burden, the company’s capital structure is ‘unsustainable’ with ‘no room for operating missteps.’ There could be a conventional default within the next 12 months, it adds.

According to S&P, Sycamore has also repurchased about a quarter of Pure Fishing’s first-lien term loan at a deep discount over the past few months. First-lien loans are loans that have to be repaid first from the available assets of a company in the event of default or bankruptcy, with second-lien loans given lower priority.

The decision for a parent company, such as Sycamore Partners, to acquire loans of its subsidiary can be motivated by several factors. Acquiring these loans can provide the parent company with greater control over its subsidiary's financial health and operations. Furthermore, purchasing these loans at a discount, as Sycamore has done with Pure Fishing's first-lien term loan, can be a strategic move to reduce the overall debt burden of the subsidiary. Acquiring the debt at a lower cost can enhance the subsidiary's financial position and reduce interest expenses, potentially improving its financial outlook.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Japanese Phenom Kyoya Fujita Wins 2023 Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain!

Kyoya Fujita of Minamitsuru, Japan, has won the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain with a four-day total of 86 pounds, 12 ounces.  (Photo: Seigo Saito/ BASS)

Bassmaster Press Release

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — The big bites mostly eluded Kyoya Fujita, but the Elite rookie’s diligence delivered the coveted blue trophy, as the Japanese superstar amassed the winning total of 86 pounds, 12 ounces in the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain.


“This feels great!” Fujita said. “My dream (has been) to win an Elite Series tournament. My dream came true.”


After placing 10th on Day 1 with 21-5, Fujita added 23-14 — the VMC Monster Bag of the event — and took over the Day 2 lead. Fujita held onto the top spot with a Semifinal Sunday limit of 22-9 and closed the deal with his Championship Monday bag that weighed 19 pounds.


The week brought a diverse meteorological mix, which included a storm system that postponed Day 2 from Friday to Saturday. Days 1 and 3 brought mostly sunny conditions, while the even number days saw dimmer, cloudy skies. Wind was a constant challenge.


Heavily geared toward sight feeding, smallmouth like sunshine, so Championship Monday’s dreary conditions, plus a week’s worth of heavy fishing pressure, seemed to be curbing the fish’s aggression. After three days with multiple 4-pounders, Fujita had only one fish over 4 Monday and fell short of the 20-pound mark for the first time.


“It was a struggle today,” Fujita said. “I got on a school of fish (later in the day) and they wouldn’t bite. I kept dropping on them and finally a big one bit my bait on the way down."

Monday, August 21, 2023

2023 Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain Day 3: Fujita Extends Lead!

Canadians: Cory Johnston 14th, Gallant 18th, Chris Johnston 23rd & Gustafson 68th

Kyoya Fujita of Minamitsuru, Japan, is leading after Day 2 of the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain with a two-day total of 45 pounds, 3 ounces.  (Photo: Seigo Saito/ BASS)


PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Matching the day’s bright complexion, Japanese superstar Kyoya Fujita again outshined the field and maintained his lead at the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain with a three-day total of 67 pounds, 12 ounces.


Following a dim and drizzly Day 2, Semifinal Sunday’s morning clouds quickly yielded to mostly sunny conditions, which clearly cracked the whip on Champlain’s smallmouth bass. Capitalizing on the favorable conditions, the rookie Elite from Minamitsuru, Yamanashi, Japan, who led Day 2, complemented his first two limits of 21-5 and 23-14 with a Day 3 bag that weighed 22-9.


Fujita started the day with a 7-ounce lead over Alex Redwine of Blue Ash, Ohio. After Sunday’s performance, he heads into Championship Monday leading Missouri pro Cody Huff by 2-13.


“Today was very tough,” Fujita admitted. “Short bite, short bite, short bite — miss, miss, miss. I had no big fish in the morning. But in the afternoon, I had two big fish.”


Making his fourth Top 10 for the 2023 Elite season, Fujita has camped in one main area of the Inland Sea, at Champlain’s upper end. He’s basically hunting down active smallmouth that are following schools of baitfish.


Fujita said his main baits are a drop shot with a 4.5-inch Jackall Yammy stick worm cut down to 3 inches and a Damiki-style rig with a 5.2-inch Jackall Revoltage RV-Drift Fry on a 1/8-ounce ball-head jig.


The vast Inland Sea has hosted several of the event’s top performers, but Fujita seems to have dialed in the sweetest spot.


“In practice, I looked through a lot of places, but the area I’m fishing has the most big fish,” Fujita said with the help of an interpreter.


Forward-facing sonar has dramatically improved the way anglers search broad areas and, with three graphs on his bow, Fujita has kept a keen eye on his targets. Although he declined to share specifics, he noted the distance at which he sets his Garmin LiveScope has played a key role in his success.

Friday, August 18, 2023

B.A.S.S. postpones Day 2 of Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain


PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — B.A.S.S. officials are postponing Day 2 competition at the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain due to forecasted severe thunderstorms and winds gusting to 25 mph that are expected to make conditions unsafe for boating and related tournament activities.  


The full field of anglers will now compete on Saturday, with only the Top 50 advancing to Sunday’s semifinal round. The Top 10 will compete for the championship on Monday.


Daily takeoffs will be held at 7 a.m. ET from Plattsburgh City Marina and weigh-ins will be held each day back at the marina at 3 p.m. FS1 will broadcast live with the leaders beginning at 8 a.m. Full coverage will be available on


The tournament is being hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau


2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew's, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC
2023 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters