Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Another Big Step for Alabama Bass Trail

When you do something well enough, it's hard to NOT take it to the next level.

Just ask Kay Donaldson, program director of the Alabama Bass Trail. She has spent the last year and a half developing and promoting the trail, which was officially launched in spring 2012 and has quickly developed an enormous fan base for the 11 lakes and the trail itself and consequently has drawn major national attention to Alabama bass fishing. As the Alabama Bass Trail has grown in recognition, so has demand for a dedicated tournament series.

Eventually that demand reached a point where Donaldson and others involved with the Alabama Bass Trail had to think seriously about what such a series should look like, the audience it should target, how it could funded and much more. Exactly when those thoughts and accompanying talks started getting serious, I'm not certain; I do know that the end product, which was announced earlier this week and will be put into action early next year, is seriously impressive.

Ten regular-season events (five apiece for a northern and southern division) and a season-end championship collectively will hit each of the lakes on the Alabama Bass Trail once per season. With a guaranteed first prize of $10,000 per tournament and a pay-down 20 places down, these single-day amateur team events promise to have a huge draw from the Southeastern United States, and each one is expected to produce half a million dollars economic impact on its respective host city.

The championship, which is a no entry event with a 125-boat field built from top teams from both divisions and top student teams, will award a Phoenix 619 Pro and Mercury 150, complete with electronics and trolling motor and valued at $37,495.

Appropriately, the tournaments kick off at Lake Guntersville on Feb. 1. Guntersville stands as Alabama's most acclaimed bass lake and has attracted even more attention the normal in recent months as the host site of the next Bassmaster Classic. In fact, the 2014 Classic will visit Guntersville Feb. 21-23, only a few weeks after the inaugural Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series event.

Visit the Alabama Bass Trail website to learn much more about the tournament series and to get outstanding information about the 11 lakes the make up the trail. And when you do fish one of the lakes on the trail, be sure to send in a picture of your big bass for Alabama Bass Trail followers to enjoy.

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