ATHENS, Ala. – More than 200 of the best weekend bass anglers from more than 25 states will compete for four days, but only one will take the title as the best in the nation and win up to $205,000.
Operated by American Bass Anglers, the 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship tournament, presented by Triton Boats, will be held Nov. 6-9 on Old Hickory Lake and the Cumberland River near Hendersonville, Tenn. The event features the top 20 percent of boaters and co-anglers from each of four regional championships. These anglers will compete for a share of one of the largest paydays for weekend anglers.
The anglers competed in one-day divisional events throughout the year as well as their two-day divisional championship. The top 40 points leaders from each BWS division advanced to one of four regional events. Then, the top 20 percent of boaters and co-anglers from each of those regional events earned the right to fish in the BWS national championship.
The winning boater will take home a check for $100,000 with the top co-angler pocketing $50,000. In addition, qualified individuals may also win significant cash and product bonuses from sponsors like Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, MotorGuide trolling motors, Royal Purple synthetic oil products, TH Marine, Toyota and the Best Western hotel chain. In all, anglers competing in this championship could take home up to $245,000 in extra cash and prizes from sponsor bonuses. In addition, the winning boater will earn a chance to compete in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, slated for Feb. 21-23 on Lake Guntersville, Ala.
In the 2012 Weekend Series Championship at Lake Sam Rayburn, Texas, Albert Collins of Nacogdoches, Texas, won $100,000 with a perfect four-day limit of 20 bass weighing 86.56 pounds including a 6.20-pound kicker. Richard Michalski of West Port, Ky., won the 2012 Co-Angler Division championship with a four-day total of 11 bass weighing 33.05 pounds earning $50,000 for his win.
Anglers may begin registering at 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Gallatin Civic Center, located at 210 Albert Gallatin Avenue in Gallatin, Tenn. In addition, the annual Angler of the Year Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at Latham's Lighthouse Event Center, located at 133 Sanders Ferry Road in Hendersonville. Each Angler of the Year attending will receive package entry into the 2014 season and a special product award from ODYSSEY Batteries. On Nov. 5, the Sumner County Conventions and Visitors Bureau will host a dinner for the competitors from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gallatin Civic Center, followed by a mandatory meeting for all the anglers.
Competitors may practice from Nov. 3-5. All tournament anglers compete on Nov. 6-8. On the last day of the event, Saturday Nov. 9, the top 25 boaters and top 25 co-anglers compete.
The competitors will run out of Sanders Ferry Park, located at 513 Sanders Ferry Road in Hendersonville. Competitors may begin fishing at safe light each tournament day. Free and open to the public, the weigh-ins will be held at Sanders Ferry Park, beginning at 3 p.m. on Nov. 6-7. On Nov. 8-9, the weigh-ins begin at 2:30 p.m.
Anglers fishing the Boater Division may weigh in up to five bass per day in any combination of largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky spotted bass. Each largemouth bass must measure at least 14 inches long. Each smallmouth bass must measure at least 18 inches long. Co-anglers may weigh in up to three bass each day.
One of the best bass lakes in the nation, Old Hickory ranked 94th on the 2012 Bassmaster magazine list of the top 100 bass waters in the United States. The lake did not make the list in 2013, but still holds good populations of fish. The lake can produce some largemouth exceeding 10 pounds with good numbers of fish in the 4- to 7-pound range. The lake record largemouth bass weighed slightly more than 11 pounds. It generally takes at least a 20-pound bag with five bass to win a single-day bass tournament with the big bass for the day usually hitting in the 5- to 7-pound range.
About 25 miles northeast of Nashville, Old Hickory Lake covers 22,500 acres. Named in honor of President Andrew Jackson's nickname, the lake reached pool stage in 1954. The riverine impoundment stretches about 97 miles along the Cumberland River between the Old Hickory Dam in Sumner and Davidson counties and Cordell Hull Dam near Carthage, Tenn. Anglers can fish about 440 miles of shoreline.
The part of the lake between Spencer Creek and Drake's Creek typically offers the best largemouth bass fishing because that area usually holds significant aquatic vegetation, depending upon the season. In the major coves, anglers can usually find milfoil and other submerged grasses growing to about 10 feet deep and matting up in places. A few coves contain some old stump fields and rocky cover. Other good areas include Bull Creek and the deep water near the dam.
The main forage species include threadfin and gizzard shad, minnows, shiners, skipjack herring and brook silversides. Find the bait and find the bass. Look for schooling fish where major creeks meet the main channel and keep a shad-colored topwater bait or lipless crankbait handy to throw at any bass that chase shad to the surface.
On Old Hickory Lake, anglers might want to throw Texas-rigged senkos around grass beds or work shaky head jigs through cover. Deep running white, chartreuse and blue or chartreuse and black crankbaits worked over structure in 10 to 20 feet of water might also entice big bass. Also try dragging Carolina-rigged soft plastics in green pumpkin or black and blue along creek channel edges or off points.
During the July 27, 2013, BWS tournament on Old Hickory Lake, John "Bubba" Graves of Mount Juliet, Tenn., won the Boater Division with a five-bass tournament limit weighing 17.95 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 5.38-pound kicker that also won the tournament big bass title. He caught his fish around drops on the lower end of the lake with worms and in-line spinnerbaits.
In the Co-Angler Division during that tournament, Andrew "A.J." J. Harvey of Bethpage, Tenn., landed a three-fish division limit going 9.47 pounds. He sealed his victory with a 5.21-pound kicker that earned division lunker honors. Harvey caught his fish by flipping a jig at the upper end of the lake.
For area information, contact the Sumner County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 615-230-8474 or 888-301-7866. On line, see www.sumnercvb.com. For Tennessee fishing license information, see www.tn.gov/twra/licensefees.html or call 1-888-814-8972.
The 2013 Toyota Tundra Weekend Series Championship Presented by Triton Boats is sponsored by: Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Carlisle Tires, Royal Purple, Best Western, ODYSSEY Batteries, Livingston Lures, Busch Beer, Biobor, Raymarine, T-H Marine, SIMMS, Navionics, Mustang Survival, Seaguar and Rejuvenade. The event is being hosted by Sumner County Conventions and Visitors Bureau located in Gallatin, Tenn.
For more information on this tournament, call ABA at 256-232-0406. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers commitment is to provide low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.