Decatur, Ala. – The Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) is pleased to unveil the 2018 tournament schedule and among the key changes is a new open tournament that allows anglers to try the trail without committing to five weekends. Returning for the fifth season, the team-style tournament series is held on eleven of the lakes of the Alabama Bass Trail beginning February 17, 2018, with the championship tournament to be held on October 26-27, 2018. The new ABT Open Tournament makes its debut September 8, 2018, on Smith Lake.
“It is hard to believe we are announcing the schedule for the fifth season,” said ABT Program Director Kay Donaldson. “The success of the tournament series relies a great deal on the host cities that bid for our events. Arranging the tournament schedule is similar to a jigsaw puzzle at times, and in some cases, you have multiple cities bidding for hosting rights on one lake. We have to consider available hotel space, meeting space, boat ramp access, prime fishing time on each lake and weather. We are excited about the 2018 season and we look forward to another great year on the trail.”
Sanctioned by BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), the ABT Tournament Series contains two divisions, North and South, and each division is made up of five tournaments on five different lakes. The maximum number of boats for each tournament is 225. Teams must fish in all five tournaments in their respective division; no single entries will be allowed.
February 17, 2018 Pickwick Lake hosted by Florence-Lauderdale Tourism
March 10, 2018 Lake Guntersville hosted by Marshall County CVB
April 21, 2018 Wheeler Lake hosted by Decatur-Morgan County CVB
May 12, 2018 Weiss Lake hosted by Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce
June 9, 2018 Logan Martin Lake hosted by Pell City Chamber of Commerce
February 24, 2018 Lay Lake hosted by Shelby County Commission
March 24, 2018 Lake Martin hosted by Alexander City Chamber of Commerce
April 7, 2018 Lake Eufaula hosted by Eufaula-Barbour Chamber of Commerce
May 5, 2018 Lake Jordan hosted by City of Wetumpka
June 23, 2018 AL River/Cooter’s Pond hosted by City of Prattville Parks and Recreation
Hosted by the Gadsden Parks and Recreation Department, the championship tournament is set for October 26-27, 2018, on Neely Henry Lake. “We are proud to partner with the City of Gadsden to bring the Alabama Bass Trail Championship to Gadsden and Neely Henry Lake. Tournament fishing is hard work and we'll do our best to give the anglers the best tournament we can,” said Hugh A. Stump III, executive director of Greater Gadsden Area Tourism.
The championship event will include up to 185 boats. The 185 boats are comprised of the 10 divisional tournament winning teams, top 75 teams in points from both divisions that fished all five events in their respective divisions, along with the top 10 student boats, top five college teams and the top five couples teams collectively from both divisions that fished all five events in their respective division.
Each tournament features a $10,000 guaranteed first place prize and pays 40 places, totaling more than $47,000. The winning team of the championship walks away with a fully rigged bass boat valued at $45,000, and there is a $5,000 bonus cash prize for Angler of the Year and $2,500 for runner-up Angler of the Year. According to Donaldson, more than $566,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded when the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series wraps up its season in 2018.
2018 Payout Schedule:
First place $10,000
Second place $ 5,000
Third place $ 4,000
Fourth place $ 3,000
Fifth place $ 2,000
Sixth place $ 1,500
Seventh place $ 1,100
Eighth place $ 1,100
Ninth place $ 1,100
Tenth place $ 1,100
11th – 20th $ 750 each
21st – 40th $ 500 each
Anglers who fished all five events in their respective divisions in 2017 will be given a priority entry period from August 1 to August 14, 2017, to register online at www.alabamabasstrail.org. Registration will be open to the public on August 15, 2017. The entry fee per tournament is $1,300 per team, which includes registration for all five tournaments in the respective division. Each team may choose to pay a $500 nonrefundable deposit to hold the team's spot. The balance of $800 must be paid by January 16, 2018.
New for 2018, the ABT Open Tournament is set for September 8, 2018, on Smith Lake. Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, the one-day tournament allows teams to compete in a single tournament instead of the tournament series, which has a five-weekend commitment. It has a $15,000 guaranteed first place prize and a total cash payout of more than $70,000. The maximum number of amateur boats is 250 and the entry fee is $300 per team. In addition to the amateur teams for the first time, Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour Pro Anglers are invited to participate. The professional teams are competing for a $7,500 winner-take-all prize for highest finisher in the tournament. The maximum number of pro teams is 25 and the entry fee is $300. “We are super excited to invite these professional anglers to fish an Alabama Bass Trail event. A good number of them follow our trail and I think we will have a good turn out of the top anglers on each professional tour,” said Donaldson. Registration for the ABT Open begins on January 22, 2018.
“We are excited to introduce the first Alabama Bass Trail Open Tournament,” said Donaldson. “One of the comments we hear often is how much anglers would like to fish with us, but they just can't commit to five weekends. This gives them the opportunity to fish our event and experience the quality of the event, and hopefully when they can commit to fishing a trail, they will choose the Alabama Bass Trail. The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County and their volunteers have been great to work with during previous events, providing great hospitality to our teams, and we are extremely excited to bring this new event to Smith Lake and Walker County.”
Alabama Bass Trail Tournament sponsors include Bill Penney Toyota; the Alabama Tourism Department; Phoenix Bass Boats, Inc.; Academy Sports & Outdoors; Garmin; Wind Creek Hospitality-Montgomery; Wind Creek Hospitality-Wetumpka; T-H Marine Supplies, Inc.; Wedowee Marine; Alabama Power Company; Tennessee Valley Authority; Lews Fishing; FishNeelyHenry.com; Power-Pole; YETI; Hydrowave; and AFTCO, Inc. Pond MD will manage fish care and Southern Stream Live will be the live-streaming company.
For more information, call Donaldson at 855.934.7425 or visit www.alabamabasstrail.org.
About Alabama Bass Trail
The Alabama Bass Trail is a program of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. Its mission is to promote Alabama as a year-round fishing destination, to preserve natural resources for generations to come, and to educate high school and college-aged students to be good stewards of natural resources. The 13 bass fishing lakes consist of Lake Guntersville, Wheeler Lake, Pickwick Lake, Lewis Smith Lake, Neely Henry Lake, Weiss Lake, Lake Martin, Lay Lake, Logan Martin Lake, Lake Jordan, Alabama River, Lake Eufaula, and the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. For more information, visit www.alabamabasstrail.org.