Anglers from seven states are anxiously counting down the days until Feb. 1., the day the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series kicks off its Northern Division on Lake Guntersville.
With $10,000 for first place guaranteed at each of the 10 division level events of the new tournament trail and a $40,000 Phoenix boat with a 150-horsepower Mercury Outboard and other prizes up for grabs at the series championship, anglers have plenty to of reasons to be excited. Adding to that excitement level is an opportunity to advance to the Bassmasters Team Championship and possibly earn a berth in the Bassmaster Classic.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable trail. I’m really looking forward to it,” said Josh Bragg of Jacksonville. “They have it timed so we are hitting every lake on the trail when it is fishing great. I can’t hardly wait.”
Bragg will compete with his fishing partner Kyle Glasgow of Guin. The Alabama Bass Trail Series is a team trail.
Lake Guntersville is one of the nation’s premier largemouth bass lakes with lots of lunkers caught in February.
“You can win tournaments on a lot of lakes with a 20-pound bag. At Guntersville, you can catch 20 pounds and not finish in the Top 20 in a tournament.”
The tournament will be staged out of Lake Guntersville State Park.
After Guntersville, the Northern Division moves to Pickwick Lake for a March 22 tournament out of McFarland Park in Florence.
Pickwick is known for producing lunker smallmouth and largemouth bass.
“Pickwick is right up there with Guntersville. There’s going to be some huge bags weighed in,” Bragg said.
The next stop on the trail is April 5 at Neely Henry Lake in Gadsden, which is Bragg’s home lake.
“I’m looking forward to all of the tournaments so it’s really hard to pick just one that I’m looking forward to most of all,” Bragg said. “If I just had to pick one that I feel most confident on, it would probably be Neely Henry just because I fish it so much.”
Neely Henry is home of huge Coosa River strain spotted bass and lunker largemouth.
The Gadsden tournament will be staged out of Coosa Landing.
On May 31, the Northern Division anglers return to the Tennessee River for a tournament on Wheeler Lake out of Ingall’s Harbor in Decatur.
Bragg expects plenty of big largemouth and smallmouth to be caught at the Wheeler tournament.
The Northern Division wraps up June 21 on Logan Martin Lake, another Coosa River impoundment.Bragg said big spots and largemouth will be caught there.
The tournament is being staged out of Lakeside Park in Cropwell.
The mix of fisheries in the Northern Division lends itself to a variety of fishing styles, Bragg said,
With all five Northern Division tournaments already being sold out with a full field of 200 boats shows how excited anglers are about the trail, he said.
“I’ve fished a lot of trails and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one where every tournament had a full field,” Bragg said. “This tournament series is the biggest thing to come along for the weekend warrior tournament guys like myself in long time, possibly the greatest thing ever for us.”
The Top 50 teams for both the Northern and Southern Divisions will advance to the series championship Oct. 10-11 at Smith Lake in Jasper.