New waters on 2012 Divisional trail

The 2012 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Divisional Championships will be exciting and unpredictable because many of them will be hosted on waters that are not familiar to B.A.S.S. competitors in general. From Boston’s Charles River to Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge, the divisionals will test the anglers’ mettle and prep the best for the upcoming championship.

“We’re excited about the divisionals this year,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Senior Manager. “We’ve had two anglers in the last two years advance to the Bassmaster Elite Series, and this may be the year for another.” Both Brandon Palaniuk and Jamie Horton are current Bassmaster Elite Series anglers thanks to their winning performances in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter.

The year kicks off in Clewiston, Fla., March 28-30, as the Southern Division convenes on Lake Okeechobee. Okeechobee is the site of the second Bassmaster Elite Series event of the season, just one week prior to the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation’s appearance there. Federation competitors will launch from Clewiston Public Boat Ramp and will weigh in at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina.

Next up is the Western Divisional on Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge, May 30 to June 1. The tournament will be B.A.S.S.’s first event on Flaming Gorge, and it promises excitement as well as beautiful scenery. Competitors will launch from and weigh in at the Buckboard Marina in Green River.

The following week, competitors from the Central Division will meet in Morgan City, La., to pry bass out of the Atchafalaya Basin, June 6-8. B.A.S.S.’s last event on the basin resulted in victory for Bassmaster Elite Series pro Edwin Evers after a fish-off. It was the final event of 2009 Central Open season, and he weighed in 35 pounds, 9 ounces — the same weight as competitor Mark Smith. Evers took home the gold, though, after the two went head-on in the fish-off.

The Northern Division competes next on the Mississippi River, Aug. 8-10. Competitors will fish Pool 13 in Savanna, Ill. B.A.S.S. tournaments in that section of the Mississippi have been limited. The last one was in May 1995 in a Bassmaster Top 100 event. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Tommy Biffle won with 48 pounds, 8 ounces.

The Eastern Divisional follows, Sept. 12-14, on the Mystic/Charles River. Located near busy Boston in Medford, Mass., anglers will fish alongside Ivy League scullers, who use the water for competitive rowing. “There is a 6-mph speed limit on the river,” said Stewart, “so anglers will have to figure that into their fishing time.” Stewart added that this is the first time a major fishing tournament has been held on these waters.

The final event of the season will be the Mid-Atlantic Divisional in North East, Md., Sept. 19-21. Competitors will fish the Upper Chesapeake Bay, where Nate Wellman won the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open in September 2010 with 53 pounds, 1 ounce.

The dates for the 2012 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship are tentative, but it is scheduled for Nov. 1-3, and the host hasn’t been determined yet. But you can be sure it will be a battle to the finish, with six anglers poised for 2013 Bassmaster Classic berths.

Click here to get the full divisional schedule and to find details as they become available.

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