Sports fans who enjoy watching the top bass pros in the world compete head-to-head on the Bassmaster Elite Series can take their passion to the next level and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes — including dream fishing trips — with Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing and the Mercury Drain the Lake Challenge.
“We're launching early this year because there is so much fan interest,” said B.A.S.S. vice president of digital Jim Sexton. “Over the past two years with Rapala entitling Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing, the game has grown by 45%, and even though Drain the Lake launched midway through last season, it still had more than 14,500 players.
“We wanted to give players more time to set their teams. The 2022 games have more prizes and there will be enhancements to the game coming next year.”
In 2021, Fantasy Fishing provided nearly 40,000 engaged fans with a competitive platform to test their knowledge of professional fishing and prognostication skills to win more than $90,000 in prizes, including Rapala gear packages, gift cards and more.
New for 2022, the Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing champion will win a trip to South Carolina to fish with former Bassmaster Classic champion and current Bassmaster LIVE host Davy Hite. The grand prize winner will also receive a $15,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card, $5,000 cash and a Rapala package — a total prize valued at more than $21,000.
“Fantasy Fishing has really been great for our sport,” said Hite. “It gives the fans an opportunity to engage and be a part of every single event.
“As much fun as Fantasy Fishing is, it is also very difficult, which is why the winner deserves a good prize. I’m really glad that I get to be a part of the prize pack.”
Participants select their best five-angler team for each of the nine Bassmaster Elite Series events and the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, then compete against other players to score the highest number of points. Points are awarded based on each angler’s final standings at the end of an Elite Series event, and every event will feature $6,500 in prizes, including an additional $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card if the winner is a B.A.S.S. member.
The Mercury Drain the Lake Challenge, using elimination pool rules, requires players to use an entirely different strategy than standard Fantasy Fishing. When building their team, players can only use an Elite Series angler once over the course of the season. Unlike traditional Fantasy Fishing, there are no buckets. Tournament players select any eight Elite Series anglers. After choosing an angler for a specific event, players can no longer select that angler for the remainder of the season.
Casey Kmiecik of Wisconsin won the inaugural season of the Mercury Drain the Lake Challenge, and while he has played Fantasy Fishing for a decade, he enjoyed the strategy behind selecting anglers for Drain the Lake: “I think they’re both a lot of fun. I’ll always play both of them, but I like Drain the Lake better because I feel like there is way more strategy involved.”
Kmiecik went on to remind other players, “If there is a smallmouth swing at the end, make sure to save your smallmouth anglers for those tournaments because they’re almost a lock on those Northern smallmouth fisheries.”
The Drain the Lake Challenge winning player, along with the rest of the Top 5 points leaders for each event, will receive a $200 Mercury gift card plus an additional $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card if they are a B.A.S.S. member. The 2022 Mercury Drain the Lake Challenge overall winner will enjoy a fishing trip with Bassmaster LIVE host Mark Zona in Michigan, with airfare, hotel and $150 in spending money included.
Registration for both games, along with full rules and a description of each prize package, can be found at Bassmaster.com/fantasy.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk