This fall I’ll be hosting my third college and high school tournament on Norris Lake in Tennessee. We’re expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 anglers this year. That’s a huge increase over last year, and exactly what we want to see.
This is a really fun event for my family, friends and me. We all help out, and it’s awesome to see how it comes together every year.
My wife, mom and stepmom take care of all the paperwork including registration and payouts. My brother helps me emcee and weigh all the fish, and my dad’s company, AB Card Construction, sponsors and cooks the free food at the weigh-in on Saturday. Even my high school buddies help with building the stage and setting everything up.
There’ll be a dinner and registration meeting on Friday before the tournament starts. Twin Cove Marine and Coal Creek Smokehouse BBQ sponsor and cater the dinner. During the dinner Chad Pipkens and John Hunter, my Suzuki teammates, will join me at the front of the room for a Q & A session about anything fishing.
We had several guys from Kansas fish my event a couple years ago, and I hope we draw anglers even farther away this year. There’s a $50 entry fee per boat (one or two anglers per boat) that enables us to boost the payouts which are pretty darn good.
First place in the college division will pay $2,500. First place in the high school division will pay $1,500. Last year we were able to give away more than $20,000 in cash and prizes for the tournament payouts and free raffles.
Our event is open to any college or high school angler in America. The college teams will compete against each other, and the high school teams will compete against each other. It’s two separate tournaments being run at the same time.
The registration dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the Campbell County High School. The competition gets underway on Saturday, Dec. 1. For more details please check out the flier or contact Curtis Hoskins at 423-494-2578.
The presenting sponsors for this event are Suzuki, Navionics and the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce. There are a lot of other sponsors, too. I can’t say enough about their help and participation. Without them this event wouldn’t happen. Everyone connected with the tournament encourages you to use their products when you can.
Several of the Bassmaster Elite Series pros hold tournaments in the offseason or between events. We do that because we love this sport, and we know that without grassroots action it won’t survive and it’ll never grow. That’s my motivation, too, but my history with the sport plays into things as well.
I fished for the University of Kentucky when I was in college. I was the first collegiate angler to qualify for the Elite Series and was fortunate enough to win the Toyota Bassmaster Rookie of the Year title in 2012. UK is responsible for much of that success.
The goal of our tournament is to keep things moving forward through the educational ranks. If we can push high school anglers along, they’ll be better when they get to the college ranks. And, the better they are at the college level the better they’ll be in the Opens which will give them a better chance to move into the Elite Series.
This is my opportunity to give something back to the sport of bass fishing. I’m a huge advocate of growing this awesome sport, and I love seeing the younger generations of anglers so excited about bass fishing. It’s going to be awesome seeing how big this sport will be in 10 or 20 years.