What a catch!
Bass Pro Shops will be hosting its first-ever amateur fishing tournament, inviting ambitious anglers to compete for $4.3 million in prizes – including a historic $1 million in cash for the national championship team.
The outdoor and conservation sport shop announced the contest Monday, with the inaugural Johnny Morris Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships launched in celebration of the store’s 50th anniversary. The epic championship event will be held at Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks of Missouri in November, a spokesperson told Fox News.
"Fishing in the first national BASS tournament on Table Rock Lake in 1970 rewarded me with friends for life and served as my inspiration to start Bass Pro Shops… And our loyal customers and industry-leading independent boat dealers, we simply wouldn’t be here today," Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder and conservationist, said in a statement.
"This tournament is our way of giving thanks and rewarding our customers with the chance to land the catch of a lifetime. Beyond offering the ultimate prize in fishing, we’re excited to celebrate our heritage, raise funds for conservation, and have some big fun with people who love fishing as much as we do."
There are three ways to qualify for a chance to compete in the amateur championships. For starters, anglers can enter the event by finishing in the top 40 of one of eight regional qualifying events scheduled for the spring. These qualifiers include competitions at Lake Okeechobee, Fla. on March 13, Lake Ray Roberts, Dallas, on April 17, Lake Mead, Nev. on April 24, Chesapeake Bay, Md. on July 17, Lake St. Clair, near Detroit, on Aug. 21, Old Hickory Lake, near Nashville, on Sept. 11, Grand Lake ‘O the Cherokees, Tulsa, Okla. On Oct. 16, and Bull Shoals Lake, Ark. on Nov. 17.
Alternatively, fishing enthusiasts can score a place in the November championship by winning a competition organized by authorized, independents dealers of Tracker, Ranger, Nitro, Triton, Sun Tracker, Tahoe and MAKO brand boats. More specifics on that are available through Bass’ official competition site.
"For over 50 years, these celebrated brands have come to represent the #1 bestselling boats in North America," Bass explained in a news release. "Along the way, they made first-time boat ownership more affordable for thousands of families."
Finally, the winning teams from three major national collegiate championships will also be invited to the November competition, "as a continued investment in the future of the sport."
According to Bass, there’s room for many in the winners’ circle. To promote the sport, regional and international qualifiers will give prizes for youth, family teams, all-female teams, veterans and more. Ambitious anglers can also vie for glory by fishing for the biggest bass, among other awards. Better yet, one lucky junior angler (between the ages of 11 and 18) will win a $250,000 scholarship to study conservation.
At the ultimate championship in November, 350 two-person teams will go fishing at the legendary Table Rock Lake, in an internationally televised event. Teams from Japan, Spain, Germany, Romania, Mexico and Holland will also be competing for the top prize.
During the three-day event (the dates of which have not yet been announced,) the fishing fanatics will angle for a limit of 5-fish each day, with overall weight recorded determining the ultimate champ at the conclusion of the three-day fishing spree.
From there, the victorious team will win a $1 million cash prize, which Bass claims is "the largest cash payout of any single freshwater fishing tournament in history."
Meanwhile, the angler who catches the biggest bass will receive a 21’ fiberglass Ranger, Nitro or Triton bass boat or a Toyota Tundra truck, among other prizes.
Proceeds from the epic event will also benefit conservation, with one-third of entry fees supporting The National Fish Habitat Initiative. Bass Pro Shops and partner Toyota have pledged to match this amount, at 100% of all entry fees – or, over $1 million – donated to benefit conservation.
Entry fees are $450 per adults, and $250 per kid, ages 12 to 17. Kids 11 and under are free. Online registration for the first three regional qualifiers opens on Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. CT.