BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For the first time in its five-year existence, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship will be held south of the Mason-Dixon Line — on Lake Chatuge on the Georgia/North Carolina border, B.A.S.S. announced today.
The championship will be held Sept. 20-23, 2018, and will feature the 50 top-ranked Bassmaster Elite Series anglers, based on Angler of the Year points earned during the nine-event Elite season, said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S.
Akin also revealed that the 2018 Classic Bracket tournament will be held Oct. 23-26, also in northern Georgia, at 3,200-acre Carters Lake near Ellijay.
Earlier today, Akin announced that the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest tournament, one of the nine regular-season events of the Bassmaster Elite Series, will be held May 17-20 on Lake Travis near Austin, Texas.
“The AOY Championship is one of our three ‘majors’ — along with Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest and the GEICO Bassmaster Classic — that pay out $1 million or more and have developed a huge and loyal following,” Akin said. “This year’s championship was super exciting in that Brandon Palaniuk didn’t wrap up his AOY title until the very last day of competition.”
In addition to the $100,000 prize that goes to the Toyota Angler of the Year, the contestant who weighs in the heaviest total catch of the event will receive $25,000. The rest of the $1 million prize fund will be awarded to the Top 50 pros based on their final standings in AOY points. The event also determines at least 36 qualifiers for the Classic from the Elite Series.
Previous AOY championships have been held at Escanaba, Mich.; Sturgeon Bay, Wis.; and, for the past two years, Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. All three areas are renowned for their trophy smallmouth fishing.
The AOY Championship will mark the first time for a professional Bassmaster tournament to be held on Lake Chatuge, a 7,500-acre Tennessee Valley Authority impoundment, but it hosted Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Championship tournaments in 2013 and 2014. Weigh-ins and other activities will be at the Towns County Conference and Recreation Center in Young Harris, Ga.
“We are excited to be hosting a tournament of this caliber, and we look forward to showcasing the beauty of our small mountain community to people from all over the world,” said Candace Lee, president of the Towns County Chamber of Commerce. “We want to put Lake Chatuge on the map as one of the best fishing lakes in the Southeast — as well as the most beautiful.”
The four-day Classic Bracket tournament provides one final opportunity for one Elite angler to qualify for the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. Conducted entirely in front of Bassmaster LIVE cameras, the Classic Bracket follows a catch-weigh-release format. Anglers compete head-to-head, trying to compile a heavier five-bass catch than their opponents, until only one is left standing. Qualifiers are the first eight anglers in AOY points below the cut to the Classic.
Jacob Powroznik, an Elite Series angler from Virginia, prevailed in this year’s Bracket to earn an invitation to the 2018 Classic, to be held March 16-18 on Lake Hartwell at Anderson, S.C.
Carters Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundment of the Coosawattee River in Gilmer and Murray counties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia. With a maximum depth of 547 feet, it’s the deepest reservoir in the state, and one of the most scenic.
“We are thrilled to be a first-time host community for a top tier B.A.S.S. event,” said Paige Green, president and CEO of the Gilmer Chamber. “Carters Lake and Ellijay look forward to welcoming eight of the world’s Elite anglers to our beautiful mountain community. It is our hope that everyone experiences exciting fishing, nature’s beauty and true southern hospitality.”