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How conservation will benefit by $1m in biggest pay-out in history of fishing


More than $4million – the biggest payout in the history of fishing – is being offered by a new amateur tournament announced yesterday. And a further $1million will be donated to conservation.

The staggering prize pot was revealed yesterday as Bass Pro Shops founder, Johnny Morris, unveiled plans for the first Bass Pro Shops (BPS) US Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships. The no-pros-allowed tournament is designed for families and friends who are invited to enter teams of two in the first-of-its-kind event. It will be televised nationally and internationally on NBC

Speaking on video from behind the counter where he served customers in his original Springfield, Missouri, store, Morris said the reasons behind the tournament were to celebrate the company’s 50 year heritage, to thank BPS customers for their loyalty, to support conservation and to have fun.

“We are proud to give amateur anglers the chance to compete on a bigger platform and to win big prizes and recognition,” he said. The event is open to owners of BPS boat brands, Tracker, Ranger, Nitro, Triton, Sun Tracker, Tahoe and Mako. In the event of the tournament being over-subscribed there will be a lottery to give everyone who wants to compete an equal chance.

Following a series of regional qualifying rounds starting this Spring, 350 two-man teams will compete in a three-day championship finale in autumn on Table Rock Lake, where a young Johnny Morris fished and where he started his business in the back of his father’s liquor store. The lake was also the venue for the first national BASS tournament in 1970.

“It is a great way to give back to our customers,” said Johnny’s son, John Paul. The cash and prizes on offer are more than triple those in the leading professional tournaments. And the coolest part is that there are no pros allowed.”

There will be eight qualifying events for the championship, with the top 40 finishers in each event getting their entry fees for the final paid.

Morris, considered one of the world’s foremost conservationists, reminded viewers watching his announcement that half of all freshwater fishing in the US, and 20,000 bass fishing tournaments, take place on Corp of Engineers lakes built 50 to 60 years ago. “A lot of those habitats have really deteriorated through pollution or lack of vegetation, so it is really important to raise awareness and money to improve that for future generations,” he said.

Bass fishing legend, Bill Dance, first met Morris at the 1970 All-American tournament on Table Rock Lake and the pair became close friends. “Johnny and Jean Paul have cooked up something really special,” he said. “The winning team is going to take home a million dollars. Never before has there been a freshwater tournament like this. It’s a history-making event.”

Fellow Bass Fishing Hall-of-Fame member, Jimmy Houston, described Morris as “possibly the greatest conservationist in the history of America” and applauded the fact that 100% of all entry fees will be donated to the National Fishing Habitat initiative that Morris helped establish in the early years of his career.

Online registration for the first three regional qualifiers will be open for 24 hours beginning at 10 AM CT on February 10, 2021. For full details of the tournament click here.

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