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Bassmaster Elite Series Field Set For 2018
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A star-studded field of 111 professional bass anglers — including a mix of rookies, legends and veterans from other tournament circuits — will make up the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series field when competition gets underway on Lake Martin, Alabama, in February.

The lineup includes 99 anglers who competed in the Elite Series this year. They will be joined by 11 first-time Elite qualifiers and one Elite veteran, Rick Morris of Lake Gaston, Va., who is returning to the prestigious pro circuit after a three-year hiatus.

“The Elite field is getting stronger every year,” noted B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. “Some of the anglers who achieved Elite status in the last few years — including Bassmaster Classic champion Jordan Lee — are already proving they belong in the top tier of this sport. I expect some of the pros qualifying from the Bassmaster Opens will become forces to be reckoned with right away, too.”

Weldon said that only three of the 15 qualifiers from the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens declined invitations to compete in the Elite Series.

Among those climbing in from the Opens is Hunter Shryock, brother of veteran Elite pro Fletcher Shryock, and at least two standouts from the FLW Tour. Shin Fukae and Wesley Strader have each won about $1.5 million in long careers with FLW. Because of their previous winnings, Fukae and Strader will not be eligible for Bassmaster Rookie of the Year honors next year.

Heading the list of anglers requalifying for the 11-event circuit are Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, the reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and seven-time AOY winner Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.

Also returning are 17 former Classic winners, including Lee. Three of those, Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo.; David Fritts of Lexington, N.C.; and Paul Elias of Laurel, Miss., narrowly missed requalifying this year but were given special “Legends” exemptions available to past Classic champions and AOY winners.

Requalifying through the Elites is based on Angler of the Year points earned the previous season. Newcomers also get a one-year grace period that guarantees them a second season. Should Opens anglers or others decline invitations, those spots are filled from a list based on average rankings in Angler of the Year points over the anglers’ careers.

Another nine Elite Series anglers failed to requalify this year and will have to climb back in through the Bassmaster Opens, said Weldon, who noted that they were offered priority entry into the 2018 Opens.

After the kickoff Elite tournament in February, the anglers will break for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, March 16-18. Eight more regular-season Elites will be held between April and August. As in 2017, the Elite postseason will include the $1 million Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship (to be held next year on Lake Chatuge, Georgia, Sept. 20-23) and the wildly popular, live-streamed Bassmaster Classic Bracket Fish-Off (Oct. 23-26 on Carters Lake, Georgia).

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Field
Name Hometown/State Qualification Route  Rookie/Newcomer/Elite veteran
Casey Ashley Donalds, S.C. Elite Series  
Adrian Avena Vineland, N.J. Elite Series  
Drew Benton Panama City, Fla. Elite Series  
Josh Bertrand San Tan Valley, Ariz. Elite Series  
Tommy Biffle Wagoner, Okla. Elite Series  
Stetson Blaylock Benton, Ark. Elite Series  
Stephen Browning Hot Springs, Ark. Elite Series  
Brandon Card Knoxville, Tenn. Elite Series  
Tyler Carriere Youngsville, La. Elite Series  
Brent Chapman Lake Quivira, Kan. Elite Series  
Hank Cherry Jr. Lincolnton, N.C. Elite Series  
Jason Christie Park Hill, Okla. Elite Series  
Luke Clausen Otis Orchards, Wash. Elite Series  
Rick Clunn Ava, Mo. Legend  
Keith Combs Huntington, Texas Elite Series  
Dustin Connell Clanton, Ala. Elite Series  
Brandon Coulter Knoxville, Tenn. Elite Series  
John Crews Jr. Salem, Va. Elite Series  
Cliff Crochet Pierre Part, La. Elite Series  
Mark Daniels Jr. Tuskegee, Ala. Elite Series  
Mark Davis Mount Ida, Ark. Elite Series  
Ott DeFoe Knoxville, Tenn. Elite Series  
Boyd Duckett Guntersville, Ala. Elite Series  
Brent Ehrler Redlands, Calif. Elite Series  
James Elam Tulsa, Okla. Elite Series  
Paul Elias Laurel, Miss. Legend  
Edwin Evers Talala, Okla. Elite Series  
Todd Faircloth Jasper, Texas Elite Series  
Seth Feider Bloomington, Minn. Elite Series  
Micah Frazier Newnan, Ga. Elite Series  
David Fritts Lexington, N.C. Legend  
Shin Fukae Palestine, Texas Southern Opens Newcomer
Shaw Grigsby Jr. Gainesville, Fla. Elite Series  
Chris Groh Spring Grove, Ill. Northern Opens Rookie
Greg Hackney Gonzales, La. Elite Series  
Skylar Hamilton Dandridge, Tenn. Elite Series  
Ray Hanselman Jr. Del Rio, Texas Central Opens Rookie
Jamie Hartman Newport, N.Y. Elite Series  
Roy Hawk Lake Havasu, Ariz. Central Opens Rookie
Matt Herren Ashville, Ala. Elite Series  
Brett Hite Phoenix, Ariz. Elite Series  
Timmy Horton Muscle Shoals, Ala. Elite Series  
Randy Howell Guntersville, Ala. Elite Series  
Michael Iaconelli Pittsgrove, N.J. Elite Series  
Kelley Jaye Dadeville, Ala. Elite Series  
Alton Jones Jr. Lorena, Texas Elite Series  
Alton Jones Lorena, Texas Elite Series  
Kelly Jordon Flint, Texas Elite Series  
Steve Kennedy Auburn, Ala. Elite Series  
Gary Klein Mingus, Texas Elite Series  
Jeff Kriet Ardmore, Okla. Elite Series  
Chris Lane Guntersville, Ala. Elite Series  
Bobby Lane Lakeland, Fla. Elite Series  
Russ Lane Prattville, Ala. Elite Series  
Robbie Latuso Gonzales, La. Elite Series  
Jordan Lee Guntersville, Ala. Elite Series  
Matt Lee Guntersville, Ala. Elite Series  
Dave Lefebre Erie, Pa. Elite Series  
Brandon Lester Fayetteville, Tenn. Elite Series  
Jared Lintner Arroyo Grande, Calif. Elite Series  
Bill Lowen Brookeville, Ind. Elite Series  
Justin Lucas Guntersville, Ala. Elite Series  
Aaron Martens Leeds, Ala. Elite Series  
Mike McClelland Bella Vista, Ark. Elite Series  
Mark Menendez Paducah, Ky. Elite Series  
Ish Monroe Hughson, Calif. Elite Series  
Andy Montgomery Blacksburg, S.C. Elite Series  
Kyle Monti Okeechobee, Fla. Southern Opens Rookie
Rick Morris Lake Gaston, Va. Southern Opens Elite veteran
Brock Mosley Collinsville, Miss. Elite Series  
Paul Mueller Naugatuck, Conn. Elite Series  
David Mullins Mt. Carmel, Tenn. Elite Series  
John Murray Spring City, Tenn. Elite Series  
Darrell Ocamica New Plymouth, Idaho Elite Series  
Takahiro Omori Emory, Texas Elite Series  
Cliff Pace Petal, Miss. Elite Series  
Brandon Palaniuk