Team Championship competition begins

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Andy Crawford

LEESBURG, Fla. – All good things must come to an end, and that includes the 2018 B.A.S.S. season, which concludes this week with the Bassmaster Team Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes here in central Florida.

The tournament has attracted nearly 400 anglers and co-anglers from across the U.S., as well as three tandems who traveled from South Africa and another from Australia. An angler and co-angler will be paired on two-person teams Wednesday and Thursday, and the duo with the heaviest two-day combined weight will be crowned team champion after Thursday’s weigh-in.

The weights for the top three pairs in the team competition then will be cleared and the six remaining anglers will compete individually in the Team Championship Classic Fish-Off.

The angler with the heaviest two-day total in the fish-off will claim the 52nd and final berth in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. That tournament, the most prestigious and storied in all of competitive bass fishing, is scheduled for March 15-17 in Knoxville, Tenn.

But first things first, which means the “Last Man into the Classic” will have to outperform all comers in the team championship. While the star power on the Harris Chain this week is not what it will be in Knoxville in March, each of the anglers competing in the team championship is a solid stick who reached the event with top showing on their respective Team Trails from around the world.

The weather forecast for the remainder of the week looks agreeable for good fishing on the Harris Chain. Wednesday’s high temperature will hover around 60 degrees and there is no chance of rain, though winds could be steady at 10-12 miles per hour throughout the day. Temperatures are supposed to warm as the week progresses, with the high on Friday and Saturday reaching into the mid-70s.

Missouri-based anglers have been impressive in the past two Bassmaster Team Championships. Ryan Butler of Blue Eye, Mo., won the Classic Fish-Off last year after catching a two-day total of 18 pounds, 11 ounces during frigid conditions on Norfork Lake in northern Arkansas last December. A year earlier, Scott Clift of Dadeville, Mo., won the Classic Fish-Off on Kentucky Lake with a two-day weight of 30-2.

Neither man came close to winning the Classic, but they gained that invaluable life experience.

Brett and Beau Govreau of St. Louis, Mo., won the team portion of last year’s championship with a two-day total of 26-2. They are competing on the Harris Chain this week attempting to defend their title.

More teams are competing in this year’s Team Championship, as well. In 2017, 186 tandems began the tournament and 163 teams participated a year ago.

Anglers launched at 6:45 a.m. ET from Ski Beach Park in Leesburg and will do the same for the next three days of the tournament. Weigh-ins will take place daily at the park beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Be sure to follow along on Bassmaster.com for daily coverage, including photo galleries, feature stories and live video and reports from daily weigh-ins.