BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bass fishing enthusiasts who want to learn from the world’s best anglers while exploring legendary fisheries will be able to register as marshals for the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series beginning January 5.
Plus, new for the 2021 season, AFTCO will be rewarding marshals with a shirt, hat, sun mask, gift card and other items with a total value of $100, plus a 20% off coupon for future purchases.
According to past participants, marshaling is the ideal way to learn while enjoying a day on the lake getting to know your favorite pro.
“Being able to see how the top pros fish a body of water you may fish frequently or may fish in a future tournament is absolutely invaluable,” said Rick Moore, a retired California resident who has served as a marshal in 23 B.A.S.S. events. “The enthusiasm among the Elite pros is great, and their connection and interaction with marshals was exceptional!
“I have been able to see many of the new bait prototypes, learn new techniques and receive personal tips from the Elite pros at many tournaments. As a marshal, the pros will be candid about what and why they are fishing a certain way. I can’t count the number of times a pro has had me join him on the front deck to show how he was interpreting his graphs or reading the movements of a bedding fish.”
The marshal program, created by B.A.S.S. in 2009 as a way to attract observers who would ride along with the pros, allows people to spend two to three days on the water with some of the best professional anglers in the sport. Marshals are not allowed to fish, but they are encouraged to take photos, send blog posts to Bassmaster.com and serve as an extra set of eyes for B.A.S.S. tournament officials, making sure all rules are observed. Additionally, marshals operate the digital BASSTrakk scoring system that enables fans to follow the action in real-time.
For Moore, both enforcing the rules and chronicling the tournament are part of the benefit of serving as a marshal.
“I enjoyed the responsibility of being the ‘eyes and ears’ on the water,” said Moore. “B.A.S.S. has a long history of big bass tournaments, and being able to do my part to assist with ensuring the sanctity of the event has been a welcomed challenge.”
Marshal spots are available for just $99 per tournament. Every marshal is guaranteed to be on the water for the first two competition days. As the Elite Series field is cut throughout the weekend leading up to the Championship, marshals are chosen for additional competition days based on how early they register for the event as well as their video, blogging and photography in the preliminary rounds.
“Just sitting in the boat would make for a long day without photographing the tournament, Skyping with the TV team during live coverage and helping with Bassmaster media content,” Moore said. “And many of my photos have also been used by the pros for their social media content.”
One of the 2020 season’s most exciting clips — rookie Kyle Welcher catching a 10-pounder at the St. Johns River — was shot on an iPhone by his marshal, Les Cook, and has since been reaired during television and Bassmaster LIVE coverage.
“Kyle had a few bites throughout the day, and I tried to make it a point to capture all of his catches on video, but when he said, ‘Big one dude,’ I knew something was different,” said Cook, of St. Augustine, Fla.
Serving as a marshal at the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River fulfilled what Cook said had been a longstanding bucket list activity. Having spent earlier years fishing South Dakota club tournaments, he was intrigued by the opportunity of taking a front-row seat to live-action learning.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a position to sit with a pro, learn their techniques and thought processes and become a better fisherman myself,” Cook said. “I wanted to go to new waters and figure out how to fish those new waters.”
The marshal experience appeals to those from all walks of life and anyone ready to gather tips and tricks from seasoned fishermen.
“From the first morning with your angler to behind the stage with the winner on the final day, a lot of inside stories develop that you would never know as a strict observer,” Moore said. “It takes the serious bass fisherman to a different level as a fan.”
Registration for B.A.S.S. Life and Nation members opens online on January 5 and by phone on Jan. 7. All other B.A.S.S. members may register online beginning Jan. 12 and by phone beginning Jan. 14. To learn more and register for the Elite Series marshal program, visit Bassmaster.com or call (877) BASS-USA.
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule
Feb. 11-14, AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River, Palatka, Fla.
Feb. 25-28, Tennessee River, Knoxville, Tenn.
April 8-11, Sabine River, Orange, Texas
May 6-9, Neely Henry Lake, Gadsden, Ala.
May 20-23, Lake Guntersville, Scottsboro, Ala.
June 10-13, Pickwick Lake, Florence, Ala.
July 8-11, Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vt.
July 15-18, St. Lawrence River, Waddington, N.Y.