Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 12/18/2015

Story  by Matt Pangrac – Photo courtesy of Kurt Dove

Moore, OK – Heading into the final two tournaments of the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series season, Kurt Dove’s sole focus was on ending the season on a high note with two solid performances.  The Texas pro did just that, finishing in 33rd place on the Chesapeake Bay in mid August and 45th place on Lake St. Clair to close out the month.

When it was all said and done, Dove cashed three checks in the 2015 and finished in 85th place in the Toyota Angler Of the Year point standings.   That doesn’t tell the entire story, as he narrowly missed cashing three additional checks this past year.  He finished in 67th place on Lake Guntersville (missing the Top 50 by just 2 pounds), 63rd place on the Sacramento River (missing the Top 50 by 1 pound, 5 ounces), and 67th place on Lake Havasu (missing the Top 50 by 2 pounds, 4 ounces).  Dove missed cashing a check in three consecutive tournaments by a total weight of just 5 pounds, 9 ounces.  

It was a hard pill for Dove to swallow, but also proved that he was improving on becoming a consistent angler in his second time around on the Elite Series.  After fishing the Elite Series from 2006 through 2008, Dove opted out of fishing the 2009 season on his own accord to improve as an angler and focus on growing his guiding business on Lake Amistad (

He requalified for the Elite Series in 2013 through the 2012 Bassmaster Opens, and jumped at the opportunity to return to the top level of tournament bass fishing with a new attitude.  

“The goal was always to return (to the Elite Series).  I wasn’t sure how or when, but I knew that the path would be created, and when it was, I would be in a better place,” stated Dove in an interview with The BASS ZONE in December of 2012.  “I can’t begin to describe my excitement about returning this upcoming season. When I left, I knew that I wanted to come back and be in the right situation and right state of mind.  I feel like that’s exactly where I am right now, and I can’t wait.”  

CLICK HERE to read the entire story that ran on December 3rd, 2012.

 Fast-forward almost exactly three years, and Dove now finds himself in a very different position.  On December 7th, B.A.S.S. released the list of 111 anglers who will be competing on the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series, and Dove’s name was noticeably absent, along with a handful of other Elite Series veterans including Kenyon Hill, Zell Rowland, Charlie Hartley, and seven others.  

“B.A.S.S. has every right to dictate how anglers qualify, and I have absolutely no problem with it,” said Dove. “The requalification structure is actually done in quite an ingenious way, but there’s no question that as time goes on, there will continue to be improvements on the process.”

It takes a few moments to fully wrap your mind around the intricacies of the requalification process for the 2016 Elite Series, and Dove spent hours on the phone with other anglers and B.A.S.S. officials to make sure that he fully understood where he was positioned when it came to requalifying for this upcoming Elite Series season.  

Here’s a basic breakdown of how the 111 anglers who will start the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series season qualified:  
-Top 70 in the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series Toyota Angler Of the Year point standings.
- Top five non-Elite Series anglers in each 2015 Bassmaster Opens point standings division (15 total anglers)
- One B.A.S.S. Nation representative
-Any 2015 Elite Series rookie that finished below 70th place in the Elite Series TAOY point Standings (in this case, only three rookies from the 2015 class finished below 70th in the TAOY points)

This brings the number of anglers to 89.  B.A.S.S. considers a full Elite Series field to be 108 anglers.  

The rest of the 2016 field was filled from two “waiting lists.”  

List One contained the 43 anglers who finished below 70th place in the 2015 TAOY point standings.  

List Two contained the career Elite Series average finish of every Elite Series pro who finished below 70th in the 2015 TAOY point standings minus their worst career Elite Series TAOY finish.  For example:  If an angler had fished three years on the Elite Series and finished in 80th place in 2013, 35th place in 2014, and 75th place in 2015, that angler would be able to drop his 80th place finish in 2013 and his career average would be 55th place.  

Anglers on List One were invited based on Open Anglers who declined Elite Series invites, anglers who finished inside the top 70 in the 2015 Elite Series who declined invitations back, B.A.S.S. Nation representative if the spot went unfilled, and any of the three rookies in 2015 who finished below 70th place in the 2015 TAOY point standings and declined an invitation back.   

Anglers on List Two (the Elite Series career average list) were invited until there was a full field of 108 anglers.  In this case, B.A.S.S. went down the “career average” list 21 anglers until a full field of 108 anglers was reached.  

The three medical exemptions were not counted towards the “full field” number and basically looked at as three additional spots.  

As it turns out, Dove was the first angler out, meaning that he did not receive an invitation to fish the 2016 Elite Series season. “For about a month it was pretty stressful,” Dove admitted.  “It’s very surprising that the process isn’t more transparent - not only for the anglers, but also for the media and everyone who has a stake in the tournament bass fishing industry. People don’t really talk about the career average list, and it’s just something that isn’t readily available.

“Once I saw where I sat on the career average list and started hearing who was and wasn’t planning on returning to the Elite Series in 2016, I thought that I had about a 60/40 chance of getting invited back to fish in 2016,” continued Dove.  “I knew that if I wasn’t going to fish the Elite Series, I still had to provide a platform for my sponsors that provided a significant return on their investment because I make my entire living in the fishing industry though fishing tournaments, guiding, and working with my sponsors.”

As it turns out, a change in sponsorship actually helped open the door for Dove to make the move to the FLW Tour in 2016.  “In early October, I had made a decision to move to Ranger Boats for the 2016 season,” explained Dove.  “Looking back, that was probably one of the best things that could have ever happened for me.  I made that decision before it even crossed my mind that I may not be requalify for the Elite Series – it was based on the fact that Ranger was a great fit for me and it was something that I wanted to be a part of.”  

When the 2016 FLW Tour season kicks off at the end of January, Dove will be competing out of a Ranger Boat powered by a Yamaha motor. Dove’s primary sponsor, Dixie Electric, is also on board with the transition to FLW.  

“I am excited about it, but there are still a lot of loose ends that I’m trying to get tied up before the season starts,” explained Dove.  “It’s less than six weeks away, and after you take the holiday season into consideration, there’s not a lot of time left to get things done.”