B.A.S.S. has advised the current Elite Series field that it will relax its requalification criteria for 2019 in an apparent effort to persuade anglers to decline invitations to join the new Bass Pro Tour.
"Everyone who is in the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series is officially invited to participate in the 2019 Elite Series, regardless of their ranking in AOY points," said a note sent to anglers Wednesday evening, a copy of which was obtained by BassFan.
Previously, anglers had to finish in the top 70 in Elite Series points in order to re-qualify for the following season or be subject to additional criteria to gain re-entry into the field.
In addition, the organization has extended a $20,000 early registration incentive bonus to be applied to entry fees to all current Elite Series pros who opt to return for 2019 and make a deposit payment before Oct. 2.
Also, it was revealed Elite Series events in 2019, including Texas Fest, will follow this format:
> Days 1-2: Full field
> Day 3: Top 20
> Day 4: Top 10
Anglers will also be allowed to vote on whether to have the top 40 or 50 anglers in points at the end of the regular season qualify for the Angler of the Year championship. The event will carry a $1 million purse regardless of field size with the payout altered for finishers 20th and below.