BIRMINGHAM — BASS officials have announced the schedule for the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series, a nine-tournament slate that will take the world’s best bass anglers to six states and some of the most storied fisheries in the sport’s history.
The season will start once again in Palatka, Fla., with an event at the St. Johns River on Feb. 6-9. Last year’s tournament on the St. Johns was one of the most exciting in BASS history, with legendary angler Rick Clunn weighing 34 pounds, 14 ounces — a bag that included two bass over 9 pounds — on Championship Sunday to come from behind and win with 98-14.
That amazing tournament, along with an in-depth study of weekend tournament results on the fishery, earned the St. Johns River a fourth-place ranking in the Southeastern Division of Bassmaster Magazine’s annual list of Top 100 Best Bass Lakes.
It will be BASS’ third trip to the Putnam County, Fla., fishery in five years — and the organization’s 21st visit to the St. Johns, dating back to 1973.
After visiting one big largemouth factory in Florida, the Elite Series anticipates shifting to another fishery that was recently ranked as one of the best in the country on Bassmaster Magazine’s annual Top 100 Best Bass Lakes list. That event is scheduled for Feb. 14-17, but the site won’t be announced until a later date.
The Elite Series schedule will pause during March for the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, the 2020 Bassmaster Classic. Competition will be March 6-8 on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville (second place overall, 100 Best Bass Lakes), with daily weigh-ins and the annual Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo in Birmingham.
When Elite competition resumes, BASS will take a trip down memory lane with a return visit to Alabama’s historic Lake Eufaula (12th place, Southeastern Division, 100 Best Bass Lakes) in Eufaula, Ala., on April 2-5.
The fourth Elite Series event will be in Manning, S.C., on the Santee Cooper Lakes (ninth place overall, 100 Best Bass Lakes). The fishery has hosted 13 major BASS events, but none since the 2009 Southern Open.
The next fishery on the schedule is known for producing some of the biggest crowds in BASS history — the Sabine River in Orange, Texas. The fifth Elite Series event on the 2020 slate will be held at Orange on May 29-June 1.
Another trip to smallmouth bass fishing’s holy country, the St. Lawrence River in Waddington, N.Y., is July 23-26. The pros will leave Waddington and head to Plattsburg, N.Y., for an event at Lake Champlain on July 30-Aug. 2.
With the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and numerous Bassmaster Classic berths hanging in the balance, the Elites will finish their season in Macomb County, Mich., at Lake St. Clair (eighth place overall, 100 Best Bass Lakes) on Aug. 20-23.
It will mark the eighth time BASS has brought a major event to St. Clair since 1994, and the last three — in 2014, 2015 and 2017 — were all won with better than 20-pound daily averages.