B.A.S.S. released the dates and most of the locations for the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series regular season today. The slate includes mostly familiar stops, with the notable exception being South Dakota's Lake Oahe.
Here's a look at the lineup:
> Feb. 8-11 -- Lake Martin -- Alexander City, Ala.
> March 16-18 -- Bassmaster Classic (Lake Hartwell) -- Greenville/Anderson, S.C.
> April 6-9 -- Sabine River -- Orange, Texas
> April 26-29 -- Grand Lake -- Grove, Okla.
> May 4-7 -- Kentucky Lake -- Paris, Tenn.
> May 17-20 -- Toyota Texas Fest -- TBA
> June 21-24 -- Mississippi River -- La Crosse, Wis.
> June 29-July 2 -- Lake Oahe -- Pierre, S.D.
> July 26-29 -- Upper Chesapeake Bay -- Havre de Grace, Md.
> Aug. 23-26 -- St. Lawrence River -- Waddington, N.Y.
> Sept. 20-23 -- AOY Championship -- TBA
> Sept. 25-28 -- Classic Bracket -- TBA
So far, the St. Lawrence is the only venue to appear on both the 2017 and '18 schedules. Lake Martin, which was a regular stop on B.A.S.S.' premier circuit in the 1980s and '90s, will host a top-level derby for the first time since 2002.
“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,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin in a press release. “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.”
Lake Oahe, on the Missouri River, is the one stop that will be completely unfamiliar to most of the field. The fourth-largest reservoir in the country (370,000 acres) is primarily known as a walleye fishery.
Info that the pros can gather on Oahe – or any other venue on the schedule – will be limited, as a new rule announced last week prohibits soliciting or intentionally receiving information about locating bass on tournament venues from the moment the schedule is announced.
Under current Elite Series rules, anglers are allowed to obtain information about a fishery until the official off-limit period goes into effect four weeks prior to an event.
“It means a lot of things will change, including no more sharing of waypoints of hot spots found by other fishermen,” said B.A.S.S. tournament director Trip Weldon in the release. “The no-information rule has the support of the Elite anglers — and it will make it more important than ever for everyone to be able to go out and find their own fish.”
Another departure from traditional Elite Series schedules is the increase in the number of events ending on a Monday. Almost invariably (the recent event at Lake Dardanelle being an exception), competition days are Thursday through Sunday. Elite tournaments next year at the Sabine River, Kentucky Lake and Lake Oahe will take place Friday through Monday. The Sabine was scheduled differently to avoid practice on Easter Sunday, and the other two start later because they are part of back-to-back events.