BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Just when it seemed B.A.S.S. couldn’t possibly provide more competitive opportunities for anglers, the organization announced today that it will be adding a Junior Bassmaster Division to its annual slate of events in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series.
High school tournaments are scheduled for Lake Hartwell in Anderson, S.C., on March 2; Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala., on March 30; Norfork Lake in Mountain Home, Ark., on April 28; and Lake Shasta in Redding, Calif., on May 11. A field of up to 50 junior division teams will compete in each event with accompanying coaches or team captains.
“This is another aggressive step toward giving more young people a chance to fish competitively,” said Hank Weldon, B.A.S.S. senior manager for college and high school. “More parents are realizing that children who fish often avoid a lot of the more harmful aspects of our culture — and by creating a division for second- to eighth-graders, we’re helping parents start them out even earlier.”
Another new feature for the high school circuit will be maximum field size of 250 boats.
The schedule itself should be exciting to anglers of both age groups, with stops on lakes like Hartwell, the site of three previous Bassmaster Classics, and Guntersville, which is nationally known for producing big largemouth bass throughout the year.
“We are very excited to once again host the great folks from B.A.S.S. in Anderson County and Lake Hartwell,” said Neil Paul, executive director of Visit Anderson. “The future in bass fishing is our high school anglers, and we look forward to the opportunity to host them all in our community.”
In addition to the announcement of the high school schedule today, B.A.S.S. officials unveiled the schedule for the 2019 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops. That lineup includes stops at North Carolina’s Lake Norman on Feb. 21-23; Smith Lake in Cullman, Ala., March 21-23; Bull Shoals Lake in Mountain Home, Ark., April 25-27; and the St. Lawrence River in Waddington, N.Y., June 20-22.
As past Bassmaster Elite Series events there have shown, a tournament on the St. Lawrence River during summer could create a dynamic atmosphere for college anglers. In August, a new Elite record was set for the heaviest daily limit of smallmouth bass — 27 pounds, 12 ounces.
“We could not be more excited about this opportunity,” said Benjamin Seaman, president and founder of the bass fishing club at Clarkson University, which will host the St. Lawrence River event. “With the Adirondack Mountains and St. Lawrence River Valley in our backyard, Clarkson University is well known among outdoor enthusiasts for its access to great hiking, mountain biking, hunting and fishing — especially world-class bass fishing.”
Unlike past years, when college tournaments were only open to anglers from corresponding regions, all events will be open to competitors from across the country. Teams will still accumulate points during the season toward an overall Team of the Year title.
“Our hope is that every college angler who wants to compete will now have a chance,” Weldon said. “You’re not limited to fishing a certain conference or region. If you want to travel to any one of these events — or all of them — you’re free to do that.”
The Bull Shoals college tournament will take place just prior to the high school event on Norfork Lake, giving Mountain Home four bass fishing-filled days in a row.
“Mountain Home and the Twin Lakes Area is thrilled to host another B.A.S.S. event,” said Jeff Pipkin, president of the Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are grateful B.A.S.S. has chosen to bring the college and high school circuits to lakes Norfork and Bull Shoals in 2019.
“We fully support the educational benefits young men and women have to gain through the sport of fishing. Our entire community is equally excited to share why we call this beautiful place our home.”
Dates for the high school and college championships and registration details and tournament information, as well as the annual College Series Classic Bracket (which qualifies one outstanding college angler for the Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods) will be announced at a later time.
2019 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops Schedule
Event Lake State Date
Tour #1 Lake Norman North Carolina Feb. 21-23
Tour #2 Smith Lake Alabama March 21-23
Tour #3 Bull Shoals Lake Arkansas April 25-27
Tour #4 St. Lawrence River New York June 19-21
2019 Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School and Juniors Schedule
Event Title Lake State Date
Eastern Open Lake Hartwell South Carolina March 2
Southern Open Lake Guntersville Alabama March 30
Central Open Norfork Lake Arkansas April 28
Western Open Lake Shasta California May 11