By Paul Lebowitz
Just a year into a new, intriguing format that features live, smart phone powered scoring, the River Bassin Tournament Trail presented by Jackson Kayak is poised to jump to a truly national footprint in 2015. But first, the 2014 finale.
On November 8, river bassers will converge on Wetumpka, Al, for the River Bassin Open & Championship. Tour founder Drew Gregory will be on hand for an event he promises will be a fitting celebration of the revived trail's 2014 season.
Gregory, known for popularizing river kayak fishing and his role in the creation of the Jackson Kayak Coosa and upcoming Coosa HD, has upped the ante. $10,000 in prizes will be given away, including the River Basser of the Year and River Bassin Team of the Year awards. (Continued below)
"Right now the standings are neck and neck and about ten anglers still have a shot at River Basser of the Year and five teams are still in the running for Team of the Year," he said.
You don't have to be in the running to fish the tournament. This is an open event. In fact, Gregory says it would be an excellent time for a beginner to stick a toe in the river.
"If you're looking to get started there may not be a better group of river bassers in one place at one time. Our anglers are some of the friendliest and most helpful. Like all anglers, they don't give away their honey holes, but they're fairly open with a newbie," he said. He figures it will be a good time to learn how to identify access points, understand river levels/gauges, determine when and where to go, as well as what areas to avoid due to hazards.
The $130 tournament entry fee is one of the highest in the sport's history, but it covers most of an anglers expenses. It comes with free camping, free food, free shuttles on the Coosa River as well as the free use of Jackson Coosas for those flying into the event. (Continued below)
Improvements in Store for 2015
Gregory says bigger things are on the horizon. For 2015, the Riverbassin Trail is moving from merchandise prizes to cold hard guaranteed cash for the regionals and super regionals, topped by some big splashy number for the championship. The 2015 finale will likely be held October 24 in Tn, hosted by Caney Fork Outfitters.
"We'll still have beginner-friendly local stops that are always going to be laid back," he added.
Western anglers should finally have an opportunity to fish the trail. Gregory is working on establishing tour stops in northern and central California, particularly in the bass rich delta.
Flooding forced Gregory to cancel several 2014 tour stops. For 2015, he's adding a small amount of local lake flatwater inbounds. It should also help make the events more welcoming to newcomers.
"Most anglers will still fish the rivers given how good river fishing can be and the events will largely be won on those wild moving waters. Rivers make the lakes; they're part of the river system too and if this helps make our events safer or easier for anglers to fish then we want to make that change. Besides, the regional events will still be true flowing water only. Anglers vying for the RBOY and RBTOY awards will be required to fish at least one regional event to be in contention. Bottom line, we're staying true to the rivers but this move just makes sense from a logistics standpoint for the trail," he said.
For more, visit riverbassintrail.com.