BASS announces 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule

BASS unveiled the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series regular season schedule Wednesday. The season will kick off near BASS headquarters with consecutive events in Florida and will end in Alabama, BASS' birthplace. Three of the fisheries — the St. Johns River, Toledo Bend Reservoir and West Point Lake — will be hosting their first Elite Series event.

"It's exciting to bring the Elite Series to new communities and expose the most prestigious level of tournament bass fishing to new fans and BASS members," said Tom Ricks, vice president and general manager of BASS. "We appreciate the support of the outstanding communities that are involved with BASS events."

In February, BASS announced the dates for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic: Feb. 18-20, out of New Orleans. The Super Bowl of bass fishing will kick off the BASS season and usher in ESPN2's coverage of BASS in 2011. As with past years, each Elite Series event will receive one hour of television coverage on ESPN2's The Bassmasters.

Additionally, Bassmaster.com will continue to define tournament coverage with its devotion to new technologies such as BASSCam, BASSCast and BASSTrakk, as well as expansive traditional coverage with photo galleries and analysis. ESPN3.com will serve as the home for live, streaming coverage of Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-ins.

The 2011 season gets rolling on two Sunshine State fisheries, with the Elite season opener set for the Harris Chain of Lakes. The Sunshine Showdown, March 10-13, in Tavares, Fla., will mark the Elite Series' second visit to the Harris Chain. In March 2008, the last event held there, Mike McClelland bested Brian Snowden in a come-from-behind thriller.

Next, anglers will head north to Palatka, Fla., for the Citrus Slam, March 17-20, on the St. Johns River. The St. Johns has been the site of 16 previous BASS tournaments but has not hosted an Elite event. Elite pro Peter Thliveros won the last tournament there, the 2008 Bassmaster Southern Open. Florida's longest river holds big largemouth bass and has been a proving ground for a number of angling greats, including one of the pre-tournament favorites, Terry Scroggins of nearby San Mateo.

From Florida, the Elites will take a three-week break before heading to Pickwick Lake and Florence, Ala. The Alabama Charge, April 6-9, will be Pickwick's second Elite event in two years. In 2010, Kevin Short plied Pickwick for 75 pounds, 1 ounce, of bass to score his second career Elite victory. Impressively, Elite anglers brought a five-bass limit to the scales on each of the four days of competition.

From Pickwick, Elite anglers will travel southwest to Toledo Bend Reservoir, a giant impoundment on the Texas-Louisiana border. The Battle on the Bayou, April 14-17, out of Many, La., will mark the 13th time BASS has visited the Bend. The lake was widely regarded as the best bass water in the country in the 1970s and is now experiencing a resurgence in the bass world.

The Pride of Georgia, May 5-8, will be contested on the waters of West Point Lake out of LaGrange, Ga. West Point has never hosted an Elite event. BASS' most recent stop there was an Open in 2005 won by Elite pro Mark Menendez, who was fighting off the effects of meningitis at the time. Largemouth and spotted bass will be the targets on the 26,000-acre reservoir that forms part of the border between Georgia and Alabama.

After West Point, anglers will head to Columbia, S.C., and Lake Murray for the Carolina Clash, May 12-15. The last time BASS was there, Fred Roumbanis won a 2008 Elite event fishing topwater frogs around heavy shallow cover.

From Murray, anglers head to the Arkansas River near Little Rock for the Diamond Drive, June 9-12. The river was the site of two Bassmaster Classics in the 1980s and last hosted a BASS professional event in 2006. Elite pro Scott Rook won that one and will certainly be a favorite to repeat.

The regular season ends in Alabama on Wheeler Lake with the Dixie Duel out of Decatur, June 16-19. After that tournament, the field will be set for BASS' third annual postseason, where the top 12 anglers will vie for Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year honors in two tournaments that will officially end the 2011 season. The location for the 2011 postseason will be announced at a later date.

The entire pro roster for the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series will be released in early 2011. BASS will open registration for the 2011 Elite Series Marshal program in January. Bassmaster Federation Nation, Life and Insider members will all be eligible for priority registration for the eight regular season events beginning at 9 a.m. ET on Jan. 4. On Jan. 11, all BASS members can register beginning at 9 a.m. ET. Interested parties can call 1-877-BASS-USA to register.

2011 Bassmaster Elite Series Schedule

*Wednesday-Saturday event

Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Skeeter, Yamaha.

Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Lowrance, Triton Boats, Nitro Boats, Bass Pro Shops and Ramada.