BASS announced Monday a new qualifying structure for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Elite Series, expanding the Classic field to include an enhanced cross section of anglers and putting an increased emphasis on performance in single events.

While the overall number of Classic spots (36) awarded through the Elite Series will remain unchanged, in 2011 each Bassmaster Elite Series regular-season event winner will receive an automatic berth into the 2012 Classic. The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings will still determine the majority of the Classic qualifiers as the top 28 in those rankings will also advance to the Classic.

Following the Elite format, each of the nine Open event winners will receive automatic spots in the 2012 Classic. With each pro-level event winner receiving a Classic berth, BASS has upped the cache of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens by allocating nine Classic berths, up from six, to the Series. The traditional points system used in the Opens will only determine future Elite Series qualifiers and will have no bearing on Classic berths.

The Classic field will increase to 54 – assuming all competitors are in good standing – clearing the way for a guaranteed entry for the 2011 College Bass Champion. The entire qualifying structure, for both the Elites and the Classic, can be found below.

Providing a dedicated avenue for the College Bass Champion, again to be held in Little Rock, Ark., in 2011 and aired on ESPNU, will enhance the profile of college bass fishing and represent an added, youth component to the Classic. There are currently 220 colleges registered to compete to qualify for the 2011 College Championship. The qualification process for college anglers can be found at

The defending Classic champion will automatically qualify as in years past. Additionally, six Federation Nation anglers will continue to qualify as well as the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Champion operated by American Bass Anglers. In the case of double-qualifiers, BASS will work down the Elite Series AOY list.

The 2011 Classic and Elite Series qualifying implications will remain as previously released. In 2012, the Elite Series field will encompass 90 competitors. BASS has a renewed emphasis on restricting the Elites to smaller fields, putting more focus on individual anglers and creating increased brand-building opportunities for the best anglers in the world.

As such, the 2011 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings will advance 73 anglers into the 2012 Elite Series. The top five in points standings in each of the three Open Series will also receive 2012 Elite qualifying berths and if any of those competitors decline, BASS will work down the Open standings to fill the five berths. Additionally, the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champion and the 2011 Federation Nation Champion can elect to fish the Elites. All double-qualifiers will work down the Elite Series AOY standings.

As BASS previously laid out, only active Elite anglers have three exemptions – former Bassmaster Classic champions, former Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year winners and anglers with 10 or more Classic experiences – that can be applied if an angler fails to qualify through the outlined avenues.

With the revamp of the qualifying structure, the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open payout has also been revised. In addition to the Classic qualifying berth, the winner of each event will receive $10,000 and a $45,000 boat package. The total prize package – including the Classic berth – reflects the prestige of scoring an Open victory.

Each event will pay through 40th place with a more even distribution towards the lower rung. Additionally, with the allure of increased Classic berths, the potential of sustained full fields throughout each division increases.

Entry fees will be slightly upped – $1,250 per event on the professional side and $350 per event on the co-angler side — but BASS has raised the stakes for Open anglers.

The Opens will only feature the top-12 pros and co-anglers on the final day of competition, which at each event will be held at a conveniently located Bass Pro Shops. BASS members can sign up for the Opens by calling 1-877-BASS-USA.

2012 Bassmaster Classic qualifications:

2011 Bassmaster Toyota Tundra AOY Standings 28
2011 Bassmaster Elite Series Regular-Season Event Winners 8
2011 Bassmaster Classic Champion 1
2011 Bassmaster Southern Opens Event Winners 3
2011 Bassmaster Central Opens Event Winners 3
2011 Bassmaster Northern Opens Event Winners 3
2011 BASS Federation Nation Qualifiers 6
2011 Bassmaster Weekend Series Champion 1
2011 Bassmaster College Bass Champion 1

* Bassmaster Elite Series regular-season winners must compete in all 2011 Elite competition days to be eligible for Classic berth
** Bassmaster Open event champions must compete in entire respective Open Series division to receive Classic berth
*** Defending Bassmaster Classic champion must compete in all Elite Series events to receive Classic berth

2012 Bassmaster Elite Series qualifications

2011 Bassmaster Elite Series Toyota Tundra Bassmaster AOY Standings 73
2011 Bassmaster Southern Opens Points Standings 5
2011 Bassmaster Central Opens Points Standings 5
2011 Bassmaster Northern Opens Points Standings 5
2012 Bassmaster Classic Champion 1
2011 BASS Federation Nation Champion 1

* Exemptions include former Bassmaster Classic champions, AOY title holders and anglers with 10 or more Classic appearances as of March 1, 2011. Must be an Elite angler in good standing to use.

Media Contact: Doug Grassian; 407-566-2216 or [email protected]

About BASS:
For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in,, and, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

Doug Grassian
[email protected]