Pickwick Lake to host 2018 Nation Championship


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The 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors will be held on Alabama’s Pickwick Lake, Nov. 8-10. Caleb Sumrall, who is now an Elite Series rookie, won the title last year and a berth to compete in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors features a field as diverse as any you’ll find in bass fishing.
It’s not unusual for a boater from North Carolina to be paired with a nonboater from California or Oregon on the first day. Then on Day 2, that same boater might be paired with someone from Australia or Japan.
No matter where they’re from, this year’s B.A.S.S. Nation Championship venue should offer a little something to make them all feel right at home.
B.A.S.S. officials announced today that Pickwick Lake — a 43,000-acre Tennessee River fishery that sports excellent populations of both largemouth and smallmouth bass — will host the annual year-end event, which is scheduled for Nov. 8-10. More than 125 anglers will take off from McFarland Park in Florence each competition day at 6 a.m. CT. Weigh-ins will be held at the same location at 2 p.m.
“We’re really excited to be having the Championship at a venue with as much to offer as Pickwick Lake,” said Jon Stewart, director of the B.A.S.S. Nation, which has chapters in 47 states, nine countries and the province of Ontario. “When you go to Pickwick — especially during that really good stretch in the fall — you never know what it’s going to take to win.
“You’d better have a plan going in, plus a backup plan and a second backup plan — and you’d better consider largemouth and smallmouth because they’re both usually going to play.”
Pickwick has been the site of numerous B.A.S.S. events, dating back to the early 1980s. Former pro angler and current Bassmaster LIVE host Davy Hite of South Carolina won a Bassmaster Elite Series event on the lake in 2011 with a four-day total of 84 pounds, 9 ounces.
The fishery’s historical significance makes it a fitting venue for the Championship, considering the tremendous effect the event has on the pro-fishing world each year.
The Top 3 finishers from the Championship will earn a spot in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which is set for March 15-17 in Knoxville, Tenn. The list of anglers who qualified for the Bassmaster Classic through the Nation Championship at the start of their careers includes Idaho’s Brandon Palaniuk, New Jersey’s Michael Iaconelli and Connecticut’s Paul Mueller.
The Top 3 finishers from the Nation Championship will receive the “Nation’s Best” package, which includes paid entry fees into the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens division of their choice in 2019 and the use of a fully rigged Phoenix boat for the year.
The overall winner of the Championship will also receive an invitation to fish the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series. Last year’s Nation Championship winner, Caleb Sumrall of Louisiana, is currently fishing the Elite Series and has finished in the money at four of seven events this season.
“There may still be some people out there who don’t realize what a big event the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship really is,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “It allows anglers from all over the world to showcase their abilities — and for the top finishers, it could truly be a life-changing thing.”
Pickwick is nationally known for producing giant smallmouth, including the 8-pound, 3-ounce behemoth caught by Bassmaster Opens angler Sam George earlier this year that now ranks as his personal best.
Besides having both major species of black bass, the lake offers a variety of terrain — from shallow backwater areas to creek channels to main-river scenarios that require anglers to read and rely on current.
“I fished a club tournament there in early December one year, and there were as many big largemouth caught as smallmouth,” Stewart said. “I think the top finishers will have to have both — and they’ll have to have a couple of different patterns working.
“When you consider all of that and then the great history and reputation of Pickwick, the tournament should really be a lot of fun.”
The Florence/Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau will host the event.
“Florence/Lauderdale CVB is excited to host the 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship,” said Suzie Shoemaker, manager sport/event sales for Florence/Lauderdale CVB. “Anglers from all over the world will vie to be the B.A.S.S. Nation Champion of Pickwick Lake in November!”