One hundred twenty-eight anglers representing Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, plus two Junior Bassmasters from South Africa, are gearing up to compete in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter, April 13-15, on Barren River Lake out of Lucas, Ky.
Each Southern Federation Nation state team consists of seven boaters, seven co-anglers, two alternates and two juniors.
According to Anthony Roy, the president of the Kentucky B.A.S.S. Federation Nation who is working closely with B.A.S.S., Glasgow and Barren counties and the Barren River Lake State Resort Park to make this event happen, big bags of fish are expected to be caught from what's considered one of the top three fisheries in Kentucky.
"If I were making a prediction, I'd say it'll take a 15-plus-pound average a day to win the tournament," he said. "This lake can produce 6-, 7- and 8-pound fish and even some 9-pounders. I don't know if we'll see any that size, but it does have the capability."
Roy is the father of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bradley Roy, the 2004 Junior Bassmaster World Champion and 2010 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year, who qualified through the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Divisional.
The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation is a network of locally organized clubs whose members participate in and support a range of activities including tournaments, conservation initiatives and youth programs. The local clubs are organized in 47 states and six countries (Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and Zimbabwe), which are part of six geographic divisions (North, South, Central, East, West and Mid-Atlantic).
"Many of our BFN members start trying to qualify for the divisionals a year in advance," said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation tournament manager. "To many, walking across that B.A.S.S. stage is a dream come true and might be as far as they ever make it, so we try to make this event the best and most exciting fishing tournament they will ever attend. For the few that make it to the BFNC (B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship) and on to the Bassmaster Classic, it is a life-changing experience."
The winning team will take home a Skeeter ZX 190, Yamaha VZ 150, trailer, Minn Kota Fortex 80 trolling motor, Humminbird 788c and a prop, valued at $35,000, for its state.
The top angler from each team will advance to the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats, taking place in October. From there, the top angler from each of the six divisions in the championship will be awarded a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic set for Feb. 24-26 out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., and automatic qualification into the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central, Northern and/or Southern Opens. The Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship overall winner also earns a berth in the prestigious Bassmaster Elite Series.
A Southern Divisional contender hoping to follow this path is Stewart Weber, who qualified for the 2005 JWC with Bradley Roy. At 8 years old, Weber started competing in the Bassmaster CastingKids competitions, and he qualified through the state level to move on to the Nationals.
"My main goal in life is to make it onto the (Bassmaster) Elite Series," he said. "That's what I'm working for right now."
In the fall, Weber caught his biggest bass ever — an 8.23-pounder — out of Barren.
"B.A.S.S. Federation Nation members take pride in passing along traditions from generation to generation, investing in the promise of fishing for future generations," said Stacy Twiggs, senior manager of B.A.S.S. Federation Nation/Youth. "Our legacy is connected to names like (Bryan) Kerchal, (Kevin) VanDam, (Denny) Brauer, (Paul) Elias and (Rick) Clunn, while names like (Michael) Iaconelli, (Terry) Scroggins, (Bradley) Roy, (Joey) Nania and (Brandon) Palaniuk prove that our future is even brighter than its brilliant past. The Federation continues to prosper, but it is through our youth that we shall flourish and future dreams will come of age."
Daily launches are at 6 a.m. ET at the Barren River State Park Boat Ramp, and weigh-ins begin at 2 p.m. ET at Barren River State Park. The public is invited to watch the launches as well as the weigh-ins; all activities are free and open to the public.
For more information about the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, go to www.bassmaster.com/federation.
2011 Bassmaster Federation Championship and Federation Divisional Championships presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats Official Sponsors: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, Skeeter, Triton, Yamaha
2011 Bassmaster Federation Championship and Federation Divisional Championships presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats Supporting Sponsors: Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, MotorGuide