By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

Sixteen events will make up the 2013 Tour season schedule and the tournaments will play out over 6 months (February through August) across 11 states at fisheries located along the U.S.-Canada border, the U.S.-Mexico border and many locales in between.

There are some familiar venues on the docket as well as a few newbies. Alabama will be the setting for three events between the Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour while Grand Lake returns to the Tour circuit schedules with two events – the Bassmaster Classic in late February and an FLW Tour stop in early June.



Last week, BassFan provided an overview of the 2012 season and who took home the hardware. Since we're not buying this whole Mayan-calendar-says-the-world's-going-to-end-this-month nonsense, this week we look forward to the upcoming season with a breakdown of each 2013 event.

Following is a chronological overview of the combined 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour Majors schedules, along with a note or two about each stop.

FLW Tour Major No. 1
Dates: Feb. 7-10
Venue: Lake Okeechobee
Host: Clewiston, Fla.
Notes: After kicking off the Open portion of the schedule the last 2 years, the Big O will be the scene for the first Major of the year after FLW cut the Opens. Randall Tharp won in blowout fashion back in February of this year. While he’s a legit threat to repeat, there’s a strong stable of challengers, including Okeechobee studs Scott Martin, Brandon McMillan, Koby Krieger and Ish Monroe, who won the Elite Series event there in 2012.

Bassmaster Classic
Dates: Feb. 22-24
Venue: Grand Lake
Host: Tulsa, Okla.
Notes: This marks the furthest north the Classic has been held since B.A.S.S. moved the event to the winter in 2006. The obvious concern on everyone’s mind is the weather, but that’s what jackets and gloves are for. Cold weather notwithstanding, the fishing should be fantastic. Once Oklahoman Jason Christie qualified by winning the Detroit River Northern Open, he was quickly installed as the favorite, but there are others who might have something to say about that. Among them are fellow Okie sticks Edwin Evers and Tommy Biffle, defending champion Chris Lane as well as Kevin VanDam, who’ll be chasing a record fifth Classic triumph.

FLW Tour Major No. 2
Dates: March 7-10
Venue: Lewis Smith Lake
Host: Jasper, Ala.
Notes: It was 2008 when the FLW Tour last visited Lewis Smith, known as one of the top spotted bass fisheries anywhere. Michael Bennett, who grew up fishing California lakes that were stocked with Smith Lake spotted bass, won that derby, catching spots that were holding deep under point-oriented docks. Spinning-rod specialists will have ample opportunities to do well, but the timing could also bring pre-spawn or spawning largemouth into the equation.

Elite Series No. 1
Dates: March 15-18
Venue: Sabine River
Host: Orange, Texas
Notes: An honest-to-goodness wild-card event. When it was announced as the season opener, there were plenty of, “the Sabine what?” reactions, indicating that just about every Elite Series pro (including the Texans) hadn’t before fished the river that forms much of the Louisiana-Texas border from Toledo Bend south to the Gulf of Mexico. Expect shallow-water studs like Cliff Crochet and river rats to do some damage with flipping sticks in this one.

FLW/Patrick Baker
Photo: FLW/Patrick Baker

The Red River will play host to next year's Forrest Wood Cup in mid August.

Elite Series No. 2
Dates: March 21-24
Venue: Falcon Lake
Host: Zapata, Texas
Notes: The water’s been way down at this border reservoir, but many still expect a heavyweight shootout. It likely won’t rival 2008 when the Elites rewrote the record books during their last event there. Twelve of the top-20 all-time heaviest tournament weights, including the Top 6, came out of Falcon in early April 2008 when Paul Elias busted 132-08 across 4 days to win the ultimate shootout.

FLW Tour Major No. 3
Dates: April 11-14
Venue: Beaver Lake
Host: Rogers, Ark.
Notes: The FLW Tour makes its traditional stop at Beaver and it comes 2 weeks earlier than this year's event. Word last year was the quality of fish was on the rise. Umbrella rigs were crucial to many of the top finishers’ weights, but there’s no reason to doubt the typical holes producing again. David Dudley will serve as defending champion.

Elite Series No. 3
Dates: April 18-21
Venue: Bull Shoals Lake
Host: Bull Shoals, Ark.
Notes: After a 20-year gap between visits to this Ozarks fishery, B.A.S.S. is back for a second straight year at the same time of year. It proved to be a catch-fest last year with plenty of quality mixed in. Brandon Palaniuk claimed his first Elite Series win with a wire-to-wire victory.

Elite Series No. 4
Dates: May 2-5
Venue: West Point Lake
Host: LaGrange, Ga.
Notes: The timing of this event falls right around the same time the Elites fished here in 2011. Steve Kennedy won that event by fishing uber-fast with swimbaits, worms and jigs. Expect a spawn/post-spawn deal where a variety of techniques bring the best fish to the scale.

Elite Series No. 5
Dates: May 9-12
Venue: Alabama River
Host: Montgomery, Ala.
Notes: The Alabama River has long been a favorite venue of B.A.S.S. It’s hosted two Classics, was the site of the now-defunct postseason in 2009 and 2010 and it was where Ott DeFoe claimed the 2011 All-Star title. This will mark the earliest B.A.S.S. has visited the ‘Bama River and the spring time bite shouldn’t disappoint. Back in late May 2003, Kenyon Hill took home the win at the Alabama Showdown. Others with victories include Mike McClelland, Mark Davis, VanDam and Elias.

FLW Tour Major No. 4
Dates: May 16-19
Venue: Lake Eufaula
Host: Eufaula, Ala.
Notes: The FLW Tour makes its second-ever stop at this historic Alabama bass factory. David Fritts took home the win back in March 1997, but that was many spools ago in fishing terms. Largemouths still dominate, but spotted bass are on the upswing, despite low-water conditions that have hampered vegetation growth around the fringes of the reservoir.

FLW Tour Major No. 5
Dates: June 6-9
Venue: Grand Lake
Host: Grove, Okla.
Notes: It’s been several years since either pro tour visited Grand during the summer months and this will be FLW’s inaugural visit. Regardless of how he does at the Classic in February, Christie will be the odds-on favorite again. Tommy Martin and Ron Shuffield each have B.A.S.S. wins to their credit at Grand.

Elite Series No. 6
Dates: June 20-23
Venue: Mississippi River
Host: La Crosse, Wis.
Notes: The Elites head back to La Crosse for the second year in a row. Last year, Todd Faircloth won a grass-fishing fest, mixing a morning frog bite with afternoon mat punching to beat Cliff Pace. The crowds were huge at the weigh-ins last year and B.A.S.S. is banking on a similar turnout.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Elite Series angler Brandon Palaniuk will try to repeat as champion at Bull Shoals Lake next April.

FLW Tour Major No. 6
Dates: June 27-30
Venue: Lake Chickamauga
Host: Dayton, Tenn.
Notes: The race to the Forrest Wood Cup concludes in the backyard of Tennessee stalwarts Andy Morgan and Wesley Strader. Chick hosted a Major in April 2011, when Clifford Pirch opted to focus on banks that held up amidst falling-water conditions to earn the win. Pirch will be fishing the Elites this year and may not be able to defend his crown.

Elite Series No. 7
Dates: Aug. 8-11
Venue: St. Lawrence River
Host: Waddington, N.Y.
Notes: No mystery event this year for B.A.S.S., but the second of three Northern stops on the Elite Series schedule will be a new one for most in the field. Takeoff will put anglers a healthy ride from the Thousand Islands on the eastern end of Lake Ontario, but there should be plenty of smallmouth habitat everywhere in between. KVD (2) and Rick Clunn each have wins on the St. Lawrence from back in the day.

Forrest Wood Cup
Dates: Aug. 15-18
Venue: Red River
Host: Shreveport/Bossier City, La.
Notes: The Red is quickly becoming to fishing what the SuperDome or Orange Bowl has been to the Super Bowl. Every other year, it seems to host the biggest tournaments in the sport. Expect grueling conditions (heat, humidity, etc.) to compound the obvious navigational challenges posed by the Red. Dion Hibdon won the first Cup at the Red back in 2000. More recently, John Cox took home the victory in a May 2011 Tour Major there. A 2010 event was cancelled due to dangerous navigation conditions.

Elite Series No. 8
Dates: Aug. 22-25
Venue: Lake St. Clair
Host: Detroit, Mich.
Notes: Smallmouth anyone? Expect a full-on brown fish bonanza when the Elite Series season concludes in the home state of VanDam, who figures to be among the faves, along with nephew Jonathon VanDam. Back in August 2002, Davy Hite topped 68 pounds to win the Lake St. Clair Michigan Bassmaster Tour.

Check out BassFan’s 2013 Tournament Locator Map on Facebook.