This fall I’ll be hosting my third college and high school tournament on Norris Lake in Tennessee. We’re expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 anglers this year. That’s a huge increase over last year, and that’s exactly what we want to see.
This is a really fun event for my family, friends, and I. We all help out and it’s awesome to see how it all comes together every year. My wife, mom, and stepmom take care of all the paperwork like registration and payouts, my brother helps me emcee and weigh all the fish, and my dad’s company, Ab Card Construction, sponsors and cooks the free food at the weigh-in on Saturday. All my high school buddies help out every year with building the stage and setting everything up.
We’ll have a big dinner registration meeting on the friday (Nov. 30) before the tournament starts. The catered dinner will be sponsored by Twin Cove Marine and Coal Creek Smokehouse BBQ. While the competitors eat, my Suzuki teammates, Chad Pipkens and John Hunter, will join me at the front of the room for a Q and A session about anything from life on tour to questions about specific techniques. It’s a fun, informative time!
The college teams will compete against each other, and the high school teams will compete against each other. It’s two separate tournaments being run at the same time. This is an open event to any college or high school angler in America. We had several guys from Kansas fish my event a couple years ago, and I hope we draw anglers even farther this year. There’s a $50 entry fee per boat (1 or 2 anglers per boat) that enables us to boost the payouts which are pretty darn good. First place in the college division will pay $2,500 and first place in the high school division will pay $1,500. Last year we were able to give away over $20,000 in cash and prizes for the payouts and free raffles.
The registration dinner starts at 5:30 pm on November 30th at the Campbell County High School. The competition gets underway on Saturday, December 1st. For more details please check out the flier below and/or contact my buddy, Curtis Hoskins at 423-494-2578.
The presenting sponsors for this event are Suzuki, Navionics, and the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce. I can’t say enough about their help and participation. Without them this event wouldn’t happen. All of my other sponsors (check them out on the flier) are big supporters of the event and donate thousands of dollars in products every year!
Several of the Bassmaster Elite Series pros hold tournaments in the offseason or between events. We do that because we love this sport and we know that without grassroots action it won’t survive and it’ll never grow. That’s my motivation, too, but my history with the sport plays into things as well.
I fished for the University of Kentucky when I was in college. I had a ton of fun doing that and, at the same time, I developed the skills I need and use today. Largely as a result of my experiences at UK I was able to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series through the Bassmaster Southern Opens. I was the first collegiate angler to qualify for the Elite Series and was fortunate enough to win the Toyota Bassmaster Rookie of the Year title in 2012.
The goal of my tournament is to keep things moving forward through the educational ranks. If we can push high school anglers along and help them develop, they’ll be better when they get to the college ranks. And, the better they are at the college level the better they’ll be in the Opens which will give them a better chance to move into the Elite Series.
This is my opportunity to give something back to the sport of bass fishing. I’m a huge advocate of growing this awesome sport, and I love seeing these younger generations of anglers so excited about bass fishing! Its going to be awesome seeing how big this sport will be in 10 or 20 years!