A 3rd place finish in the North Division qualified Eric Morris and Ben Williamson for the Bassmaster Team Championship on Lake Hartwell at Green Pond Landing out of Anderson, SC on December 11-14.
Eric and Ben met a few years ago. Ben and his brother who would often hang around the shop at Wedowee Marine were having lots of success fishing locally on Lake Wedowee. Eric was in need of a new partner for the ABT, so he asked Ben if he was ready to step up from the local stuff and try his skills out around the state. Ben took him up on the offer and that’s where their story begins.
They launched their ABT career in the South Division in 2018 with what Eric describes as many missed opportunities that kept them from doing as well as they would have liked. One check was cashed that season and they made the championship on Neely Henry. Eric remembers the Lake Martin tournament where they finished 171st by saying, “I have never been more angry after a tournament than I was after that one… knowing the quality of fishermen we are and to finish that bad was hard. I didn’t talk to Ben or anybody about fishing for a while after that.”
Fast forward to this year when the team made the decision to fish both the North and the South divisions. Eric likes the lakes up North and feels he does better there while Ben enjoys the South lakes and feels he does better there making it a good decision to fish both. They both agree that the ABT is the best thing going in Alabama, so making the decision to jump in both divisions this year was an easy one.
The first event this year was in the South at Lake Martin- after last year’s finish, they were coming back for redemption. Eric jokes, “the crazy thing is we fished the exact same way we did the year before and almost won it” The duo finished in 2nd. Following they backed that up at Lake Jordan with a third place finish putting them in the lead for AOY in the South Division. At that point they really seemed have things headed in the right direction. Then came the Alabama River which Eric refers to as “the place where dreams go to die” and a 113th place finish causing them to slip in the points. If they had been able to catch a limit in that event, they most likely would have won AOY in the South or at least double qualified for the ABT Championship.
Thankfully for them, they were more consistent in the North and finished 3rd in AOY. The final event of the year at Neely Henry was a memorable moment and a great way to end the season. It rained all day and so much that at one point in the back of a cove Eric’s PFD went off “scaring him to death” and making him think someone was shooting at him. They remained steady fishing a particular section of the lake with about “11lbs in the boat. The particular area had one stick up blade of grass, and we fished it 4 times. On the fourth time Ben caught that 7.27… the same one he actually hung in practice.” That fish moved them up the leader board and secured them a 12th place finish. The 2019 season was good for them in both divisions cashing a check in all events this year except one.
Both are looking forward to the BASS Team Championship as the opportunity to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic is huge. They feel Lake Hartwell is going to set up similar to Lake Wedowee and are look forward to using some of those patterns when they head to Hartwell. “You want the dream of being able to get into the Classic, and it’s right here in front of us to go get.. these are what dreams are made of!” Eric says “he’s really excited at the chance to fish the Classic on Lake Guntersville- his favorite lake in the world.” We’ve all had that dream of riding around the weigh in circle with the music playing holding the flag and the trophy, and he said “he’d love for his son to be holding the flag and him holding the trophy. To be in contention, they believe it will take a “steady 14 lbs a day”
Eric is not only a fisherman in both divisions, but he and Wedowee Marine are also a proud sponsor of the ABT. Wedowee Marine is a Phoenix Boats Dealer; they are going into the 4th year as a sponsor. Wedowee Marine also gives away $1,000 in contingency money in every tournament to the highest finisher who has purchased a boat from them. That’s every single ABT tournament! You don’t even have to be the tournament winner- just purchase a boat from Wedowee Marine, fish the ABT and you can win. Eric says the partnership with the ABT is a good relationship for both and to have the opportunity to show off our product to 450 teams and the opportunity to offer service after the sale is important to Eric and his team.
AOY 3rd Place North Division
Lewis Smith Lake 30th Place
Wheeler Lake 27th Place
Weiss Lake 38th Place
Pickwick Lake 24th Place
Neely Henry Lake 12th Place
AOY 12th Place South Division
Lake Martin 2nd Place
Lake Jordan 3rd Place
Alabama River 113th Place
Lay Lake 38th Place
Lake Eufaula 39th Place
Fished as a team: South 2018, North and South 2019
Eric fished South 2017