The Good, the Bad, and Change

By Bruce Callis May 27,2017

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The Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefitting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was an exciting tournament, producing some rather impressive bags. For 4 days the Elite Pros caught a total of 1404 bass out of a possible 1405 for a full limit, with day one being the only day not every angler made his limit. And it was the first time that the Elite’s used live scoring to weigh in every fish. The anglers were also only allowed to bring bass that measured 21 inches in to the official weigh-in each day.
Day 1 had Brent Ehrler taking the early lead with an impressive 25 pounds 6 ounces and a lead of 15 ounces over Brandon Palaniuk. Randy Howell, Hank Cherry and Cliff Crochet rounded out the top five with Cliff only being less then 2 pounds back. Only 18 anglers had a 20 pound bag that first day.
Brent held on to his lead on day 2, but Brandon had cut it down to just 2 ounces. Jacob Wheeler moved himself up into third with an impressive 23 pound 7 ounce limit. Randy Howell dropped to 4th and Greg Vinson moved up to round out the top five.
The field was cut down to the top 50 anglers for Day 3, and saw the lead once again change hands. Behind a 24 pound 7 ounce bag, Brandon Palaniuk retook the lead over Brent Ehrler by 2 ounces to set up what seemed to be a real shoot out for day four. Hank Cherry jumped back into 3rd place, but was 10 pounds and 4 ounces out of first. Jacob Wheeler dropped to 4th and Jason Christie moved up 5th place, 12 pounds out of first.
After a day off, which is not the norm for the Elites, the top 20 headed out to do battle. It all came down to Brent Ehrler weighing in 19 pounds 12 ounces and Brandon sweating it out as the scales settled on 21 pounds 12 ounces, earning him a 2 pound victory and an automatic berth in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. In addition, he also earned a $100,000 paycheck. Brent took home $34,000 and a brand new Toyota Tundra pickup truck worth $50,000 for having the Toyota Big Bass on the event, a 9-1 largemouth caught on day one. Jason Christie finished 7th, but more importantly, came away with a solid lead in the AOY (Angler Of the Year) race.
Is this the future of the Bassmaster Elite tournaments? The walk up on stage to hoist your bag, good or bad, high for everyone to see replaced by only certain size bass being allowed to the official weigh in? Are the days numbered where every angler gets to be on stage? The live on the water weighing of the fish makes it exciting for television, but what does it do for the live weigh-in each day. The crowds were thin at the weigh-in at Texas Fest. The format may be great for Major League Fishing, where total fish caught weight is the format, but it doesn’t work for the Elites! Who wants to go watch a weigh-in where you may see 15 bass among the top 50 anglers? Or the final day, who wants to see 10 bass among the top 12? I know I don’t like it. But it does add to the excitement. Maybe cutting off the live weighing part of the day 4 hours before the official weigh-in? Things change all the time, but how far is too far?


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