Bassmaster Classic Opportunity For Local Georgia Anglers
Four local tournament anglers from Georgia are fishing Lake Eufaula right now for a chance to make the Bassmaster Classic.
Local bass tournament anglers love to compete and they love to cash checks, but for most, there’s a dream in the backs of their minds… fish the Bassmaster Classic. Four local Georgia anglers now have that chance today and tomorrow on Lake Eufaula.
A field of 358 anglers (179 teams) began the Bassmaster Team Championship Wednesday on Lake Eufaula. That field has now been trimmed to a group of six as the Bassmaster Classic Fish-Off starts today, Dec. 10.
During the Bassmaster Team Championship, the top three teams—six anglers now competing individually—earned a shot at the Classic. The Bassmaster Classic Fish-Off is a two-day competition starting today, Dec. 10, that features the six individual anglers competing for the final berth in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, which is scheduled for March 4-6, 2022, on Lake Hartwell.
The top team was from Georgia—Randy Tolbert, of Rome, and Gary Thompson, of Dallas. Tolbert and Thompson, who earned their way into the team championship by fishing the Alabama Bass Trail, won a $20,600 cash prize provided by Ranger/Mercury. They also advanced to the Bassmaster Classic Fish-Off.
Every time a competing team weighed their fish during Thursday’s final round of the Bassmaster Team Championship, Tolbert and Thompson nodded in approval.
“We’re good,” they told one another, knowing their lead remained intact.
Tolbert and Thompson were good until the end on Lake Eufaula, winning the final tournament of the 2021 Bassmaster season with a two-day total of 10 bass that weighed 28-lbs., 14-ozs.
“We had one over 4 pounds on both days and that really helped us,” said Tolbert, who fished the Bassmaster College Series while at the University of Georgia. “And out here this week, that’s a big one. We caught quite a few fish both days, but I really didn’t think we had a shot to win. Coming into today, I was thinking the best we could do is make the Top 3. But when these other guys started coming in, knowing what was out there, we knew we could win it.”
Thompson said winning the team championship, not to mention having a 1-in-6 chance of making the Bassmaster Classic, seemed like a dream.
“It’s very exciting, but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” he said. “I’m surprised I was as calm as I was sitting up there.”
Tolbert said he and Thompson have caught their bass offshore in some of Eufaula’s deepest water.
“We’re using our (Lowrance) ActiveTarget and watching the fish eat the bait a lot of times,” Tolbert said. “To watch a fish follow your bait and know when it’s about to eat the bait, it’s a game-changer.”
Shane Powell, of Dothan, Ala., and Tim Fox, of Meridian, MIss., also earned a spot in the event through the Alabama Bass Trail. They finished second with 27-4. Powell, who fished for Auburn University, said he and Fox targeted three or four key areas during the team championship. The native of Dothan, just south of Eufaula, said experience on the lake helped this week.
“You have to hit them at the right time, but you don’t really know when that is,” Powell said. “You just have to rotate through, go try some new stuff. I know eventually something will turn up.”
David Lowery, of Milledgeville, and James Murphy, of Columbus, earned a spot in the Bassmaster Team Championship by fishing the Berry’s Tournament Trail. They placed third with 26-6.
Lowery is a long-time contributor to GON, having appeared in numerous feature articles over the years, most recently a Map-of-the-Month article on May bass fishing at Lake Jackson.
Lowery and Murphy also have intimate knowledge of Eufaula, having grown up in the Columbus, Ga./Phenix City, Ala., area just north of Lakepoint State Park, home base for this week’s event. After catching a 15-15 limit on Day 1, the duo caught only three bass Thursday for 10-7.
“We wanted to win it, but Top 3 was the goal,” said Lowery. “I’ll keep flipping jigs and try to go win this thing. I’ve been wanting to fish in the Classic my whole life.”
Each angler in the Top 3 teams qualified for the Bassmaster Classic Fish-Off.
Mark Hogan and Brian La Clair of the Delaware BASS Team Trail won $500 for having the big bass of the tournament—a 6-8 largemouth they hooked Thursday.
Day 1 of the Classic Fish-Off will begin Friday at 6:15 a.m. CT from Lakepoint State Park. Weigh-in is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.
A total of 179 teams took part in the Team Championship portion of the event, competing for part of a $91,600 total purse that was divvied among the Top 35 finishers Thursday.
The Eufaula-Barbour County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Bassmaster Team Championship and Bassmaster Classic Fish-Off.
2021 Bassmaster Team Championship Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2021 Bassmaster Team Championship Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, VMC
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 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, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk
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