B.A.S.S. announced the field for the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series this week, and all 75 anglers from the 2019 roster are returning, along with 10 qualifiers from the Bassmaster Opens, two veteran anglers, who returned to the trail through "legends exemption" and the B.A.S.S. Nation champion.
“To have all 75 guys back from last year – plus 100 percent of the anglers who were invited – says a lot about the positive momentum we have with the Bassmaster Elite Series,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “The reaction to last season was overwhelmingly positive from sponsors and fans and it’s great that everyone wants to continue with us on what will be another exciting journey in 2020.”
The list of returnees will include Scott Canterbury, who fished a brilliant season to secure his first Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. Longtime Elite Series veterans like Drew Benton, Hank Cherry, John Crews, Micah Frazier, Matt Herren, Bill Lowen and Chris Zaldain will also be back.
A talented 2019 rookie field of anglers that included Rookie of the Year Drew Cook, Lee Livesay and Patrick Walters will now enter their sophomore campaigns with the Elites.
They will be joined by a talented crop of rookies that includes Eastern Opens qualifiers Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., Destin DeMarion of Grove City, Pa., Buddy Gross of Chickamauga, Ga., Austin Felix of Eden Prairie, Minn., and Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala. The anglers who qualified through the Central Opens are Wes Logan of Springville, Ala., Caleb Kuphall of Mukwonago, Wis., Taku Ito of Chiba, Japan and Bob Downey of Hudson, Wis.
Cody Hollen of Beaverton, Ore., will also join the rookie class after winning the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Lake Hartwell in November.
John Cox of DeBary, Fla., actually earned an Elite Series invitation through both Opens divisions, finishing 2nd in the Central Opens and 4th in the Eastern Opens points. This will be his first season on the Elite Series (he also plans to fish the FLW Pro Circuit), but the former FLW Cup winner will not be eligible for the 2020 Rookie of the Year race due to career earnings with B.A.S.S. and FLW.
Any angler who has combined earnings of at least $500,000 with B.A.S.S. and FLW is not considered a rookie. Schmitt will also be ineligible for Rookie of the Year honors.
Instead, Cox and Schmitt will join Brandon Palaniuk and Gerald Swindle as established anglers competing on the Elite Series. Palaniuk and Swindle, who competed on the MLF Bass Pro Tour during its inaugural 2019 season, are returning on legends exemptions that are sometimes offered to anglers who have accumulated points through winning Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year titles.
Other industry giants like Rick Clunn, David Fritts and Jay Yelas — three former Classic champions with 26 wins between them — will also be back, along with Brandon Cobb and Jamie Hartman — a pair of two-time winners last season.
The 2020 Elite Series schedule will begin Feb. 6-9 with the event at the St. Johns River in Palatka, Fla. From there, it will wind through eight states for nine events as anglers compete for cash and prizes and attempt to qualify for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic.
Each tournament will begin with 88 anglers on Days 1 and 2 before the field is cut to 40 for the semifinal round on Day 3. Only the Top 10 remaining anglers will fish the final day of each event with a $100,000 first-place prize on the line.
Here's a look at the full field:
Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C.
Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C.
Drew Benton, Panama City, Fla.
Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark.
Scott Canterbury, Odenville, Ala.
Quentin Cappo, Prairieville, La.
Brandon Card, Knoxville, Tenn.
Tyler Carriere, Youngsville, La.
Hank Cherry, Lincolnton, N.C.
Gary Clouse, Winchester, Tenn.
Rick Clunn, Ava, Mo.
Brandon Cobb, Greenwood, S.C.
Keith Combs, Huntington, Texas
Drew Cook, Midway, Fla.
John Cox, DeBary, Fla.
John Crews, Salem, Va.
Clent Davis, Montevallo, Ala.
Destin DeMarion, Grove City, Pa.
Rob Digh, Denver, N.C.
Greg DiPalma, Millville, N.J.
Bob Downey, Hudson, Wis.
Seth Feider, New Market, Minn.
Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Micah Frazier, Newnan, Ga.
David Fritts, Lexington, N.C.
Chris Groh, Spring Grove, Ill.
Buddy Gross, Chickamauga, Ga.
Jeff Gustafson, Keewatin, Ontario, Canada
Skylar Hamilton, Dandridge, Tenn.
Ray Hanselman Jr., Del Rio, Texas
Jamie Hartman, Russellville, Ark.
Matt Herren, Ashville, Ala.
Dale Hightower, Mannford, Okla.
Cody Hollen, Beaverton, Ore.
Harvey Horne, Bella Vista, Ark.
Derek Hudnall, Baton Rouge, La.
Mike Huff, Corbin, Ky.
Takumi Ito, Chiba, Japan
Kelley Jaye, Dadeville, Ala.
Carl Jocumsen, Graysville, Tenn.
Chris Johnston, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Cory Johnston, Cavan, Ontario, Canada
Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala.
Koby Kreiger, Alva, Fla.
Caleb Kuphall, Mukwonago, Wis.
Robbie Latuso, Gonzales, La.
Shane LeHew, Catawba, N.C.
Brandon Lester, Fayetteville, Tenn.
Shane Lineberger, Lincolnton, N.C.
Lee Livesay, Gladewater, Texas
Wes Logan, Springville, Ala.
Ed Loughran III, Richmond, Va.
Bill Lowen, Brookville, Ind.
Mark Menendez, Paducah, Ky.
Yusuke Miyazaki, Forney, Texas
Kyle Monti, Okeechobee, Fla.
Chad Morgenthaler, Reeds Spring, Mo.
Rick Morris, Virginia Beach, Va.
Brock Mosley, Collinsville, Miss.
Paul Mueller, Naugatuck, Conn.
David Mullins, Mt. Carmel, Tenn.
Brandon Palaniuk, Rathdrum, Idaho
Luke Palmer, Coalgate, Okla.
Garrett Paquette, Canton, Mich.
Randy Pierson, Oakdale, Calif.
Chad Pipkens, Lansing, Mich.
Clifford Pirch, Payson, Ariz.
Brett Preuett, Monroe, La.
Cliff Prince, Palatka, Fla.
Tyler Rivet, Luling, La.
Bryan Schmitt, Deale, Md.
Bernie Schultz, Gainesville, Fla.
Hunter Shryock, Newcomerstown, Ohio
Brian Snowden, Reeds Spring, Mo.
Randy Sullivan, Breckenridge, Texas
Caleb Sumrall, New Iberia, La.
Gerald Swindle, Guntersville, Ala.
Jesse Tacoronte, Orlando, Fla.
Frank Talley, Temple, Texas
Patrick Walters, Summerville, S.C.
Bill Weidler, Helena, Ala.
Kyle Welcher, Opelika, Ala.
Clark Wendlandt, Leander, Texas
Brad Whatley, Bivins, Texas
Jake Whitaker, Fairview, N.C.
Jason Williamson, Wagener, S.C.
Jay Yelas, Lincoln City, Ore.
Chris Zaldain, Fort Worth, Texas