A familiar path in 2021

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Craig Lamb

Learn why B.A.S.S. is embracing familiarity with its 2021 schedule for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

There will be a time for change and exploration in professional bass fishing.

There’ll be a time to visit new lakes, forge new partnerships and establish new venues as important pieces of B.A.S.S. history for years to come.

Unfortunately, 2021 is not that time.

As we were all warned for most of November and December, the simple flip of the calendar on New Year’s Eve 2020 didn’t rid the world of the historic problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we’ve taken some steps toward normalcy in this new year, most of the problems that will forever be associated with 2020 are still hanging over us.

That’s why B.A.S.S. is embracing familiarity with its 2021 schedule for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

When some of you noticed the season opener would be on the St. Johns River, it must have ocurred to you that we’ve been there three times in the past five years.

You’re right, it’s a familiar destination for B.A.S.S. — and where better to start a season of uncertainty than in a place you’re certain of?

Who better to rely on during a time when cancellations, postponements and interruptions are a fact of life than people who have already walked this broken path with you multiple times?

The folks in Palatka, Fla., know the drill. They have contingency plans in place if things go haywire.

The same is true of Knoxville, Tenn.; Orange, Texas; Emory, Texas; and Scottsboro, Ala.

They’ve not only been regular stops for B.A.S.S. the past few years, they’ve been the site of fantastic events like the 2019 Bassmaster Classic. That event, which was held in Knoxville, is regarded by many as one of the best B.A.S.S. tournaments ever.

Gigantic crowds have gathered in Orange for events on the Sabine River, and multiple Century Belts have been awarded in Emory for tournaments held on the meticulously managed waters of Lake Fork.

Scottsboro has stepped up in a big way recently, hosting a spur-of-the-moment regular-season event that
was planned when other events were scratched.

B.A.S.S. and Waddington, N.Y., have been BFFs for years, and the relationship has produced some of bass fishing’s most memorable moments. So, it’s comforting to know we’re headed to a proven spot on B.A.S.S.’s historical timeline during one of the most chaotic times in American history.

As for Lake Champlain, the take-off and weigh-in venues will be a little different than last year. But once again, familiarity with the region will make it easier for our anglers and staff.

Even with a pandemic still raging, B.A.S.S. will visit two cities it hasn’t been to in a while in Florence, Ala., and Gadsden, Ala. Elite events on Pickwick and Neely Henry will provide a touch of variety during a time when that’s almost impossible.

We know change is good. Fans want to see our anglers compete on new waters, and we want that, too.

But the world is still healing now.

We’re still picking up the pieces from the craziest year of our lives.

When you’re in that situation, hopefully new friends will emerge. But until they do, the best path is to cling tightly to the old ones.