Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 12/12/2017

Story courtesy of B.A.S.S. Communications

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     Hayden, Idaho     Elite Series     
Chad Pipkens     Lansing, Mich.     Northern Opens     Elite veteran
Clifford Pirch     Payson, Ariz.     Elite Series     
Keith Poche     Pike Road, Ala.     Elite Series     
Jacob Powroznik     N. Prince George, Va.     Elite Series     
Cliff Prince     Palatka, Fla.     Elite Series     
Skeet Reese     Auburn, Calif.     Elite Series     
Marty Robinson     Lyman, S.C.     Elite Series     
Dean Rojas     Lake Havasu City, Ariz.     Elite Series     
Scott Rook     Little Rock, Ark.     Elite Series     
Fred Roumbanis     Russellville, Ark.     Elite Series     
Bradley Roy     Lancaster, Ky.     Elite Series     
Bernie Schultz     Gainesville, Fla.     Elite Series     
Terry Scroggins     San Mateo, Fla.     Elite Series     
Morizo Shimizu     Osaka, Japan     Elite Series     
Fletcher Shryock     Dennison, Ohio     Elite Series     
Hunter Shryock     Newcomerstown, Ohio     Southern Opens     Rookie
Brian Snowden     Reeds Spring, Mo.     Elite Series     
Gerald Spohrer     Gonzales, La.     Elite Series     
Wesley Strader     Spring City, Tenn.     Northern Opens     Newcomer
Randy Sullivan     Breckenridge, Texas     Central Opens     Rookie
Caleb Sumrall     New Iberia, La.     B.A.S.S. Nation     Rookie
Gerald Swindle     Guntersville, Ala.     Elite Series     
Jesse Tacoronte     Orlando, Fla.     Elite Series     
Randall Tharp     Port St. Joe, Fla.     Elite Series     
Jonathon VanDam     Kalamazoo, Mich.     Elite Series     
Kevin VanDam     Kalamazoo, Mich.     Elite Series     
Greg Vinson     Wetumpka, Ala.     Elite Series     
David Walker     Sevierville, Tenn.     Elite Series     
Bill Weidler     Helena, Ala.     Southern Opens     Rookie
Jacob Wheeler     Harrison, Tenn.     Elite Series     
Jake Whitaker     Fairview, N.C.     Northern Opens     Rookie
Jesse Wiggins     Cullman, Ala.     Elite Series     
Jason Williamson     Wagener, S.C.     Elite Series     
Chris Zaldain     Laughlin, Nev.     Elite Series