(Sep 25, 2015 - )
High school anglers will have the chance to fish the No. 1 bass lake in the nation during the 2016 Bassmaster High School tournament season.
Toledo Bend — the best bass fishery in the United States according to Bassmaster Magazine’s 2015 Best Bass Lakes list — will be the first stop on the 2016 Costa Bassmaster High School Series tournament trail.
High school anglers will compete in three regional Opens tournaments in 2016, including the Central at Toledo Bend on the Louisiana/Texas border, the Southern at Lake Guntersville in Alabama and the Midwestern at Clinton Lake in Illinois.
Following a year that saw participation numbers more than double over 2014, Hank Weldon, the B.A.S.S. High School Series tournament manager, said he expects those numbers to grow again in 2016.
“We were excited when we rolled out the additional tournaments in 2015,” Weldon said. “We were cautiously optimistic about participation in the inaugural Opens, but participation easily exceeded our expectations. As the high school platform continues to grow at exponential rates, we have high hopes for the turnout for the 2016 High School Opens.”
In 2015, more than 3,400 students from 370 schools participated in the Costa Bassmaster High School Opens. Approximately 1,500 students from 230 schools participated in 2014.
The first tournament for 2016, March 12 at Toledo Bend, will be hosted by Sabine Parish Tourist Commission-Toledo Bend Lake Country and in partnership with the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation. High school anglers competed on the same fishery last year, with 117 teams in attendance.
“It was wonderful to have them here last year and to see the quality of young anglers who are associated with B.A.S.S.,” said Linda Curtis-Sparks, director of the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission. “We’re so excited to see that B.A.S.S. is stepping up and encouraging those young men and women. Not only is it good for their growth, but it’s also good for the industry.
“Our affiliation with the B.A.S.S. staff is exciting; they’re just good people to work with,” Curtis-Sparks added. “We have 35 major tournaments on Toledo Bend each year, but the B.A.S.S. tournaments turned the heads of the business community.”
On April 16, high school anglers will compete on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, hosted by the North Alabama Lakes/Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and working with the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation. Last year 205 teams competed on Alabama’s Lake Martin.
“We have two city high schools — both have high school fishing teams. Over the past few years we’ve been very supportive of those teams and anything we can do to encourage young men and women to participate in the sport, we want to do that,” said Katy Norton, president of the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “To have a Bassmaster High School Open on our lake gives us the chance to open a great body of water to young anglers.”
The third High School Open will be held June 5 on Clinton Lake — a return to Illinois for the second straight year. The tournament will be hosted by Forsyth/Clinton, Ill., and in partnership with the Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation.
“The Village of Forsyth is excited to host the 2016 Bassmaster High School Midwestern Open. These events promise to be a great opportunity to showcase the great fishing opportunities that Central Illinois and the entire state of Illinois have to offer,” said David Strohl, Village of Forsyth administrator. “The Village invites participants to take part in these great events and explore the great shopping, dining, and other amenities that Forsyth and the Decatur area have to offer.”
All of the high school teams will compete for a spot at the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship held in the summer of 2016 on a date and place to be announced. One place at the championship is made available for every 10 teams competing in the Opens.
In addition, anglers in the Top 2 spots at each Open will earn a berth in an exhibition high school tournament at the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
Registration and tournament rules will be announced next week on Bassmaster.com/high-school.
2015 Bassmaster High School Title Sponsor: Costa
2015 Bassmaster High School Presenting Sponsor: TNT Fireworks
2015 Bassmaster High School Premier Sponsors: Toyota, ABU Garcia, Berkley, Carhartt, GoPro, Huk Performance Fishing, Triton Boats, Yamaha
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines , Bassmaster website, television show ,The Bassmasters , social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by TNT Fireworks, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.