The chance to go head-to-head against the world's best in any sport isn't usually an option that non-professionals get to consider, but it is now a realistic possibility for bass fishermen.
The newly formed World Series of Bass (WSOBASS) creates that opportunity for individuals who have the skills and resources to compete at the highest level of the most lucrative national pro bass circuits, but not the time. To qualify for the WSOBASS Main Event and its $600,000 top cash prize, contestants need only to fish one qualifier and finish among the top 35 percent to partake in the $3 million estimated prize pool.
Pros, amateurs, collegiate anglers and many other anglers from around the globe compete head-on in what is considered a level playing field because every angler is in total control of his or her own boat and fishing decisions throughout the tournament. Two of the entrants will have earned their spots in the high stakes event through skills competitions in a new reality fishing show called "World Series of Bass, The Dream."
"I feel 'The Dream' is the perfect name for the show because most of us bass fishermen dream of fishing for a living and competing against the best anglers in the world," said California entrepreneur and WSOBASS founder Joe Habib. "But reality is, few of us can take the time away from our work and families to give it a go. World Series of Bass presents the opportunity to compete against the best and get a big paycheck for doing so."
Three regional qualifying events are scheduled for 2013, each with more than 100 openings for anglers and requiring a $10,000 entry fee. The top 35 anglers from each full-field tournament will make the money cut, earning a $15,000 check and an invitation to compete in the no-entry-fee WSOBASS Main Event.
The Main Event is a televised championship in which the 105 anglers who advance from the qualifiers come together and compete for a total purse of $3 million and its payouts of $600,000 for first place, $150,000 for second and $100,000 for third. The cash prize amounts are based on 100 percent payback from the three qualifiers having full-field participation of 100 anglers each.
All three regional qualifying events and the Main Event will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network, The Pursuit Channel and Time Warner's Texas Channel.
The qualifiers are 3-day tournaments and the Main Event is a 4-day tournament, all with traditional rules. The tournament locations and dates are being withheld until The Dream makes its debut airing on Oct. 8 on the NBC Sports network and January 2013 on The Pursuit Channel.
The Dream consists of 13 half-hour episodes and airs weekly. The program provides a behind-the-scenes look at tournament bass fishing and its participants, a peek into the planning for the WSOBASS events, and a series of fishing skill challenges. Some of the country's top pro bass anglers will make appearances on The Dream, including Mike McClelland, James Niggemeyer, Jared Lintner and Brandon Card. Additional participants will be selected through a video application process open to college anglers, local-level pros and all anglers alike.
Habib acknowledges the fact that the $10,000 entry fee to fish in a WSOBASS qualifier is a considerable amount, but points out the investment is still substantially less than the fees required to fish an entire trail of top-tier tournaments, plus it has greatly reduced travel costs in comparison.
"Tournament entry fees are just a part of total expenses, which add up quickly when also considering truck and boat fuel, lodging and meals," Habib explained. "We're talking just one qualifier event to make it to the Main Event, saving time and money for participants, and serving up a chance for a payout that will make it possible for the winner to pursue his or her bass fishing interests at whatever level they please.
"My intentions for WSOBASS are to give the many great bass fishermen in this country a chance to pursue their own dreams through a shortened and more cost-effective tournament process, and allowing one out of every three to compete in the Main Event with cash in their pocket and a free entry," he said.
Although WSOBASS is not disclosing tournament locations and dates yet, Habib said the three qualifiers will fall in the April through June timeframe, and the Main Event is scheduled for October. The locations have been strategically placed across the country, giving participating anglers the option to choose a qualifying event that is geographically close and/or a body of water that they are comfortable fishing.
"While the three qualifiers will take place in the United States, anglers from around the world are welcome to participate," Habib said. "I have spoken with anglers from Japan, Canada, Australia, South Africa and of course, the U.S., who have expressed serious interest in joining the tournaments."
Video audition applications for The Dream reality show are being accepted now. Registration for entry into the WSOBASS qualifiers will open in October.
Full details about how to apply for a spot on The Dream and more information about the reality television series and WSOBASS events can be found by clicking here.