Bassmaster tournaments set to return to Shelby County in 2023
Published 10:00 am Monday, November 14, 2022
FROM STAFF REPORTS
BIRMINGHAM — The Bassmaster High School Series and Bassmaster Elite Series will make their way to Lay Lake next year.
B.A.S.S. officials unveiled the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors and Bassmaster Junior Series 2023 schedule, which will give young anglers from across the country an opportunity to compete on challenging and fun fisheries next spring to qualify for a chance at a berth in the prestigious National Championship tournament.
The Bassmaster High School Series will include four regular-season events. The one-day tournaments will be Jan. 29 on the Harris Chain of Lakes, Feb. 25 on Lay Lake, April 15 on Chickamauga Lake and May 7 on the Red River.
“We’re really pleased with this schedule,” said Glenn Cale, tournament director for B.A.S.S.’s High School and Junior Series. “It is fun for both the anglers and their families to explore some of the country’s most historic fisheries and the communities surrounding them. These waters have hosted more than 45 major B.A.S.S. events, including six Bassmaster Classics, and countless other tournaments! Our anglers might be young, but there’s a good chance that they’ll do battle on these lakes for the rest of their competitive careers.”
When the High School and Junior Series kicks off on Florida’s Harris Chain, they will be hoping for the same eye-popping catches enjoyed in 2022. Bryce Balentine and Dalton Loos of the Central Florida Youth Anglers won the Bassmaster High School tournament with a limit of 25 pounds, 6 ounces.
Late February on Alabama’s Lay Lake will prove more challenging, but anglers will still have options to fish for fat prespawn spotted bass or make a run to fish tailrace conditions below the Logan Martin Dam.
“We are so excited to welcome the Bassmaster High School series back to Shelby County in 2023,” said Kendall Williams, manager of tourism and events for Shelby County. “Lay Lake offers some of the best bass fishing in the country, and hosting events like this reminds us how fortunate we are to have this resource in our backyard. It is rewarding to see the community of support that has grown for fishing tournaments. Our local restaurants, stores and other businesses are ready to welcome student anglers and their families. We look forward to having new families discover Shelby and all we have to offer.”
The High School and Junior tournaments are not the only 2023 events Shelby County will host. The Bassmaster Elite Series visits Lay Lake in May, while the Strike King Bassmaster College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops will be held there in June.
A mid-April tournament on Chickamauga Lake mimics the timing of the 2022 Bassmaster Elite event, which saw conditions on the Tennessee River fishery run the gamut between highs in the 70s and frigid days with snow. Hawaiian rookie Matty Wong earned VMC Monster Bag of the Week honors with a 25-13 limit.
The High School and Junior Series regular season wraps on Louisiana’s challenging Red River, a fishery sure to test these young anglers’ versatility.
Field size will again be capped at 250 boats for high school. Each high school event will also include a field of up to 50 boats for competitors ranging from second to eighth grade as part of the Bassmaster Junior Series. The standard format is for all Junior Series competitors to weigh in first, with the champions being crowned before the High School Series weigh-in begins.
“When you consider that we’ve had to cap the field size to keep the tournaments from being too big, that tells you all you need to know about the popularity of fishing at the high school level,” said Cale.
Since B.A.S.S. started these circuits in 2013, there has been an astounding 724 percent increase in the number of clubs and schools competing.
Online registration for the High School Series will open Thursday, Dec. 8, while Junior Series registration opens Tuesday, Dec. 13. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.
2023 Bassmaster High School & Junior Series Schedule
– January 29, Harris Chain of Lakes, Leesburg, Florida.
– February 25, Lay Lake, Shelby County, Alabama.
– April 15, Chickamauga Lake, Dayton, Tennessee.
– May 7, Red River, Natchitoches, Louisiana.