The series begins Feb. 1, 2014, and the team-style tournament series will be held on 10 of the lakes of the Alabama Bass Trail, with the championship tournament taking place Oct. 10-11, 2014, on Lewis Smith Lake.
“Alabama is a great state for fishing,” Gov. Robert Bentley said Monday. “We have professional tournaments here on a regular basis. The goal of this amateur tournament is simple. We want to encourage more people to fish where the pros fish. The Alabama Bass Trail was established to help us share our lakes and rivers with more people. When more people come to our lakes and rivers, that increases tourism. And when tourism increases, that benefits our local and state economies.”
The tournament trail will feature two divisions. The northern division tournaments will be Feb. 1 at Lake Guntersville, March 22 at Pickwick Lake, April 5 at Neely Henry Lake, May 31 at Wheeler Lake, and June 21 at Logan Martin Lake.
The southern division will be March 1 at the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, March 15 at Lake Eufaula, April 19 at Lake Jordan, May 10 on the Alabama River at Millers Ferry, and June 7 at Lay Lake.
Each tournament will have a $10,000 first-place prize and will pay 20 places. The maximum number of boats is 200.
Linda Lewis, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, attended Monday’s press conference on the front steps of the Alabama Capitol where Bentley announced the series.
“This is huge for the state of Alabama, and we can’t thank the governor enough for the insight he had in bringing the Alabama Bass Trail to the state,” Lewis said. “The Chamber of Commerce is very excited to host and showcase the entire county. We truly understand what these tournaments bring to our area, and the economic impact they have. We’re very thrilled to be part of this and to be able to host the first championship on this series.”
The championship tournament is a 125-boat, two-day event. The 125 boats are comprised of the top 50 teams in points from both divisions that fished all five events in their respective divisions, along with the top 25 student boats collectively from both divisions that fished all five events in their respective division. Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, the championship tournament is set for Oct. 10-11, 2014, on Lewis Smith Lake.
The championship is a no-entry tournament and the first-place prize is a fully-rigged 2015 Phoenix 619 Pro with a Mercury 150, trolling motor and electronics valued at $37,495, with an additional $40,000 in cash and prizes. Phoenix Bass boats will also offer the tier one First Flight incentive plan to tournament winners in a qualifying Phoenix boat.
“The Alabama Bass Trail is excited to announce this new tournament for amateur anglers. Since the launch of the Alabama Bass Trail in 2012, we have received numerous requests for the development of a tournament series. We are challenged with creating more fishing opportunities in the state of Alabama, and we believe this gives anglers in the southeast an opportunity to fish a highly competitive trail on the best lakes in Alabama,” said Alabama Bass Trail Program Director Kay Donaldson.
A few select tournaments, including the Feb. 1 launch tournament, will be filmed and aired at a later broadcast on Anglers Channel reaching a viewership of over 10 million households.
“We are all grateful for Gov. Bentley’s vision and will work together to make the Tournament Series a success,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department.
Alabama Bass Trail Tournament sponsors include Bill Penney Toyota, the Alabama Tourism Department, Phoenix Bass Boats, Inc., McDonald’s of Alabama and Pradco-FISHING representing BOOYAH and YUM, Dobyns Rods, Randy Jones Agency–Nationwide, T & H Marine Supplies, Inc., Alabama Power Company, Buffalo Rock, Inc., Jet-Pep, Inc., Tennessee Valley Authority, Rigid Industries, Inc., and Frogg Toggs, Inc., Go Pro and Gander Mountain. Fishlife will be the official tournament directors and Elite Outdoors Media will be the live-streaming company.
Registration is now available online at www.alabamabasstrail.org.
The entry fee per tournament is $250 per team or through Oct. 30 teams can register for all five tournaments for $1,150.
According to Donaldson, each tournament is expected to pump an estimated $500,000 into the local economy of the host city.
“Anglers typically pre-fish, or scout a location, three or four days prior to a tournament, and during this time, they patronize restaurants, gas stations and tackle shops. During a tournament, approximately $300 is spent each day on accommodations, gasoline, food and other supplies,” Donaldson said.
For more information, go to www.alabamabasstrail.org.