BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For the second time in the four-year history of the event, the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship is headed to Arkansas.
B.A.S.S. officials announced today that the tournament will be held Dec. 6-9, on Norfork Lake in Mountain Home, Ark. The winning team will receive a new Nitro Bass Boat, powered by a Mercury outboard, and the individual winner will earn the final berth into the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
“We are very excited and humbled that B.A.S.S. has decided to bring this tournament to the Twin Lakes area,” said Jeff Pipkin, president and CEO of the Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce. “We know the organization could have brought the event to any of the numerous fishing lakes around the country, and we are flattered and honored they chose Norfork Lake.
“We look forward to welcoming and hosting these fishermen, our guests and the people of B.A.S.S. in December.”
Teams from 54 affiliated trails around the country will qualify for the Team Championship — an event that features one of the more exciting formats in bass fishing.
Anglers will begin as two-angler teams, with a team champion being crowned after the first two days. For the final two days, the six anglers from the Top 3 teams will fish solo with a Classic berth on the line.
“We are excited to return to Arkansas for the Bassmaster Team Championship,” said B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart. “The very first Bassmaster Team Championship was held in Arkansas at DeGray Lake back in 2014, and it was a great event. We are looking forward to Norfork Lake and the Mountain Home community hosting another great tournament.”
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail has made other high-profile trips to the Mountain Home area in the recent past. A springtime Elite Series event in 2016, which was split between Norfork and Bull Shoals Lake, was won by Florida pro Randall Tharp with 61 pounds, 10 ounces.
Stewart said the timing might be perfect for this event.
“The Elite anglers showed what Norfork could produce in April 2016,” he said. “I think the fishing could be even better in December.”
The Team Championship format has already produced three Classic qualifiers.
That inaugural event in 2014 was won by North Carolina angler Brandon Gray. He went on to finish 37th in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
In 2015, the Team Championship shifted to Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, where Texas angler Thomas Martens earned a Classic berth. He finished 26th in the 2016 Classic on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, marking the highest finish to date for a Team Championship qualifier.
The 2016 Team Championship was held on Tennessee’s Kentucky Lake, where Missouri angler Scott Clift claimed the Classic berth. He finished 50th in the 2017 Classic on Lake Conroe, just outside of Houston, Texas.
“This is not only a chance to celebrate all of the great team tournament anglers from around the country, but it’s also a chance for one angler to truly make history,” Stewart said. “At the end of the event, someone is going to punch their ticket to the Bassmaster Classic.
“For most anglers, that’s a dream come true.”