BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Some familiar bass fishing waters and some never visited by B.A.S.S. tournaments will play host to competitors in the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation divisionals.
California’s Clear Lake and Mississippi’s Ross Barnett Reservoir are often top choices on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. But the Pee Dee River Basin in South Carolina and Minnesota’s Vermilion Lake will be hosting B.A.S.S. events for the first time.
Anglers who have qualified for the divisionals will have the great fortune to compete on these lakes, and the top competitor from each state will advance to the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
“It’s really exciting to get to go to new places for the B.A.S.S. Nation divisionals,” said Jon Stewart, director of the B.A.S.S. Nation. “It’s one of the many things that make the Nation unique.
“You never know what might happen on these new waters, and I’m ready to get 2015 started to see what the year will bring,” Stewart added.
The first divisional of the season is the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional, April 8-10, on California’s famed Clear Lake. B.A.S.S. has visited this lake — one of the oldest natural lakes in North America — 11 times, including a divisional here just two years ago.
The Western Divisional in 2013 also took place in early April, and Washington’s Jeremy Percifield won the three-day event with a hefty 67 pounds, 6 ounces. The biggest bass of the tournament, caught by Idaho’s Denton Crofts, was 10 pounds, 9 ounces — a weight competitors will definitely strive to find in April 2015.
The last time the Bassmaster Elite Series competed on Clear Lake, Byron Velvick almost hit the 100-pound mark over a four-day tournament, ending with 98 pounds, 6 ounces.
The second divisional of the season is 2,893 miles east of Clear Lake only two weeks later. The Southern Divisional will take place on the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin in Georgetown, S.C., April 22-24. The watershed is North Carolina’s second-largest. If anglers aren’t familiar with fishing in the basin, they’re certainly familiar with the surrounding water bodies, Lake Norman and High Rock Lake, sites of several Bassmaster Tournament Trail events, including three Bassmaster Classics on High Rock.
Next up is Ross Barnett Reservoir in Ridgeland, Miss., for the Central Divisional, June 10-12. Barnett hosted a Bassmaster Classic in 1978, which Bobby Murray won with 37 pounds, 9 ounces over three days for the October event. Just three months prior to the 2015 divisional, the pros from the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Opens presented by Allstate will compete on Ross Barnett, as well.
The following week, June 17-19, the B.A.S.S. Nation divisionals move 906 miles northeast to Fairmont, W.Va., for the Mid-Atlantic Divisional on the Monongahela River. The Mon has hosted a B.A.S.S. event once — kind of. The northern end of the river is part of the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., site of the 2005 Bassmaster Classic. It was a tough tournament, which Kevin VanDam won with only 12 pounds, 15 ounces over three days.
As summer closes, competitors in the Northern Divisional will convene in Minnesota on Vermilion Lake, one of the most scenic lakes in the United States. The 39,000-acre lake could produce mixed bags for the anglers when they visit the fishery Aug. 26-28.
The Connecticut River in Hartford, Conn., ends the season at the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Divisional, Sept. 18-20. The B.A.S.S. Nation previously held a divisional tournament on the river in 2007. In addition a Bassmaster Top 100 tournament was held there in 1994 during the same week of September. Veteran pro Roland Martin won that one with 49 pounds, 11 ounces over four days.
Each state sends a team of its top anglers to its respective divisional. The top angler from each state advances to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, which will be held in October or November at a site yet to be selected.
2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Title Sponsor: Old Milwaukee
2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Supporting Sponsors: Boat US, Booyah, Carhartt, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Plano, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series presented by Carhartt, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.