Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., is taking a medical hardship and will be unable to fish the final two Elite Series events of the 2023 season. While moving a large-screen television, the Elite Series veteran suffered a complete tear of his bicep, which will require season-ending surgery.
While Schultz initially hoped to tough it out through the final two events, his orthopedic surgeon suggested that waiting three weeks would drastically decrease the likelihood of a successful surgery.
“It hit hard when I got the news,” Schultz said. “I was really looking forward to the New York swing of the season, which makes this a huge disappointment in itself. I truly felt like I could improve my standing in the AOY points.
“When you sign up to fish the Elite Series it’s a full-on commitment, and missing these last two events makes me feel like I’ve let down my sponsors, the fans and my fellow Elite Series anglers.”
Schultz’s current 50th-place position in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year race would have given him a good chance of qualifying for the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota — especially considering his successful history in the state of New York.
Schultz is set to have surgery on the first day of practice of the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain. After surgery, the nine-time Classic qualifier will begin his road to recovery and already has his sights set on the 2024 season.
“It’s tough, but I’ll get through it,” he said. “It’s going to take about four months of physical therapy and recovery, then hopefully everything turns out the way we plan and I get back full mobility and strength in that arm. I’m already looking forward to getting to that point and prepping for next year.”
After the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair, Schultz drove his boat over to New York rather than drive it all the way back to his home state of Florida. He plans to fly back to New York during the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River to retrieve his boat and also join Bassmaster LIVE to share his insight on a body of water in which he has an abundance of knowledge.
Full coverage of the final two Elite Series events can be found on Bassmaster.com.