Alabama River’s high water leads to launch change

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Rising waters of the Alabama River — already at more than 10 feet above the normal level — precipitated a launch change today for the Bassmaster Elite Series Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite, May 9-12.

Originally scheduled for launch at the historic Montgomery Riverfront on Coosa Street, B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon said with the river continuing to rise, the decision was made today to relocate the launch site for the Thursday through Sunday tournament starts.

“From a safety standpoint, we moved the take-off point to Cooter’s Pond in Prattville,” Weldon explained. “We appreciate the consolidated efforts of Mayor Todd Strange of Montgomery and Mayor Bill Gillespie of Prattville in helping us to make this possible.”

Weldon is confident that, regardless of where they launch, the 100 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are going to boat plenty of bass during the tournament, which is the fifth stop of the eight regular season events in the series.

“Fishing is definitely going to be good,” Weldon said. “It has been a very wet spring, and with the water being high, the fishing has been excellent. Our anglers are going to catch a lot of spotted bass.”

B.A.S.S., now based in Birmingham, Ala., was founded in Montgomery in 1968 by Ray Scott. The birthplace of modern bass fishing, Montgomery has been the site of several top-tier Bassmaster competitions, including the Bassmaster Classic in 1981 and 1982. Most recently, Montgomery hosted three consecutive Elite Series postseasons, from 2009 to 2011, but this will be the first regular-season Elite event on the Alabama River.

“It’s great being in Montgomery because we have such strong relationships here that the people involved were able to assist us with coming up with a plan as good as the original one in a matter of minutes,” said Eric Lopez, director of operations for B.A.S.S. “We appreciate the cooperative efforts of the City of Prattville and the City of Montgomery in facilitating this change.”

The Elite field will compete for a first-place prize of $100,000, an instant-in for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, and points that count toward a Classic qualification and the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.

Fans are invited to watch the launches and weigh-ins. Anglers will launch at 6:30 a.m. CT each day at Cooter’s Pond Boat Ramp, 1844 Cooter’s Pond Road, Prattville, AL 36066.

The weigh-ins, originally scheduled for the first two days at the Montgomery Riverfront Amphitheatre, will now be held each day beginning at 3:30 p.m. CT at the Riverfront Park Union Station Train Shed (300 Water Street, Montgomery, AL 36104).

While the pros are on the river, fans can enjoy the Bassmaster Elite Series Expo, which will open at noon Thursday-Sunday. All Bassmaster fan activities are free and open to the public. will provide extensive online coverage. Features include live, streaming video and real-time leaderboards during the weigh-ins; blogs and videos from the water; the Lowrance War Room, which features data and analysis from the BASSTrakk catch reports; daily results; photo galleries; news stories and much more.

ESPN2 will air coverage of the Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite on June 2 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET on The Bassmasters TV show.

The local host of the event is the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.