Tournament Trail History:
In January 1975 an idea was born - develop a program that
offers military personnel a program similar to baseball,
basketball, football, handball, and other on-base participation
In a small restaurant in Florida, the Military Bass Anglers
Association tournament trail was born, MBAA for short. The
first members to join were all from the Patrick Bassmasters
at Patrick Air Force Base.
In 1976, MBAA headquarters was moved to Virginia and the
expansion began. Virginia offered a more centralized base
of operations. During that year, chapters covered the states
of Oklahoma, New York, Florida, Virginia, and the Carolinas.
The first MBAA National Championship was conducted in 1976
on Barkley Lake, KY. Forty-nine members competed out of Prizes
Point for the coveted title of National Military Champion.
Owen Schroeder, currently an outdoor writer in Clarksville,
TN, took the title.
The first MBAA publication appeared in 1977. Jim Porter was
the editor of The Military Angler. James Parker of Fayetteville,
NC was the 1977 National Military Champion.
The 1978 National Champion was Bob Billman. MBAA obtained
its first sponsor, Minn Kota Trolling Motors, as MBAA continued
In 1979 Bill Vance was the MBAA National Champion and won
the first boat and motor combination given away at the national
In 1980 the National Championship was held on Toledo Bend,
TX, and James Parker flew in from Alaska to win it for a
During 1981, 1982 and 1983, MBAA continued to grow and expand.
The 1981 champion at Kentucky Lake was Don Petty. The 1982
champion at Lake Toho, Florida, was Mike Ney, and Max Moore
took home the title at Lake Eufaula in Alabama in 1983.
the 1981 national championship MBAA had its first female
contender who was Lois Young.
Big things happened in 1984. Yamaha Marine and Ranger
Boats came on board to be the first major sponsors. Bob
Ballard was the National Champion at Toledo Bend. The
headquarters office was moved to Dallas, Texas.
In 1985, the MBAA championship broke into two divisions:
east and west. The west champion was Roy Sword fishing
at Lake Hamilton in Arkansas. The east champion was Paul
Kondrk competing on Santee Cooper.
In 1986, MBAA continued strong growth and expansion. The
MBAA National Champion was Rocky Casey from Oklahoma, competing
on Truman Lake in Missouri.
Bassing America was formed in 1987 to handle the increased
tournament activities. Gary Woods from Alabama took the
MBAA National Champion title in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
At Kerr Reservoir, NC in 1988, Mike Lynn took the National
Championship title. Ray Bohanon of Virginia became the
1989 MBAA Champion at Lake Livingston in Texas.
In 1990, the MBAA champion was Lynwood Merricks at Kerr
Reservoir in North Carolina.
1991 was an eventful year for MBAA. Roger Mayo became MBAA
National Champion at Beaver Lake in Arkansas. The first
annual MBAA directors' meeting was held at Beaver Lake.
In 1991, Ray Gresham was the champion on Pickwick Lake,
and in 1992 Jeff Routch took the honors on Lake Seminole.
The 1994, championship took place on Kerr Reservoir in
Henderson, NC. Abe Abernathy took the championship title.
In 1995, the largest championship in MBAA history took
place on Lake Murray in Columbia, SC. Over 450 anglers
competed for the largest purse in MBAA history . . . over
$113,000 in cash and prizes. Mike Doss, of Irmo, SC, took
the champion's title and Gary Woods, from Huntsville, AL
won the prestigious Angler of the Year award.
Catskill, New York hosted the 1996 championship. It was
the first time the MBAA National ventured further north
than North Carolina. The Hudson River allowed almost everyone
to catch fish, and yielded a high ratio of smallmouth.
George Ballingall of Raymond, NH took the title of National
Champion with 35.23 pounds of fish. The Military Angler
of the Year title went to Phillip Terry, Jr., in one of
the closest point races in recent years.
The 1997 Championship was held in Bainbridge, GA on the
infamous Lake Seminole. An excellent field of qualifiers
was met with some tough fishing conditions. The Angler
of the Year title went to Morris Sheehan of Alabama and
Kenny King of Georgia took the championship title.
The chambers of Denison, Sherman and Pottsboro, hosted
the 1998 championship held on Lake Texoma, TX. Blaine Souerwine
of Columbus, GA took the title of Angler of the Year, and
Bob Walla of Ceresco, NE was named National Champion.
In 1999, its 24th year, MBAA took its championship to Wheeler
Lake in north Alabama. It was the first time in the history
of MBAA that a championship tournament day had to be cancelled
because of weather. Wind advisories were issued for Wheeler
Lake, which dictated that day one would be called off.
Now a two-day championship, the fishing was excellent,
with about 97% of the contestants weighing in a fish. Danny
Dean of Elkmont, Alabama, took National Champion and Angler
of the Year honors.
In January 2000, the national office was moved to Athens
Alabama. Morris Sheehan, a long time member of the tournament
trail and Angler of the year in 1997, purchased the tournament
trail and formed American Bass Anglers, Inc. to manage
day-to-day operations of the tournament trail. David Hagood
from Unigraphics Solutions was hired and named vice president.
In February 2000 American Bass Anglers announced Triton
Boats, TH Marine, and OMC as title Sponsors of the tournament
In April 2000 American Bass Anglers also announced Lucky
Craft Lures as a Title sponsor of American Bass Anglers.
In April 2000 American Bass Anglers published its first
issue of the American Bass Anglers Tournament Trail Magazine.
Changing the format to include a glossy cover.
In May of 2000 American Bass Anglers announced the re-adoption
of Service Team Sponsors.
In June of 2000 Kelly Combs joined American Bass Anglers
as the marketing manager.
In June 2000 American Bass Anglers announced Lowrance as
a national sponsor.
At the 2000 25th national championship two Triton TR21PDs,
fully rigged with OMC outboards, Lowrance Electronics,
T-H Marine Hot Foot and Jack Plates were given away to
the winner of the national championship (Phillip Anderson)
and to the Angler of the Year (Abe Abernathy).
In 2001 American Bass Anglers published its first full
color magazine and published over 150,000 national flyers.
At the 2001 National Championship at Lake Texoma, a Non-Boater,
Ken Marrs became the National Champion and took home a
new Triton TR21PD fully loaded with a 200hp outboard, Lowrance
electronics, TH Marine Hot Foot, Jack Plate, Finger Flex
Trim, and a Max Air Aeration system. Don McFarland won
Angler of the Year Honors and a new Triton TR21PD with
a 225dfi outboard fully loaded with Lowrance electronics,
TH Marine Hot Foot, Jack Plate, Finger Flex Trim, and a
Max Air Aeration system. The Boat House honored the Outboard
sponsorship after OMC. American Bass Anglers paid out over
$167,000 in cash and prizes at the 2001 National Championship.
At the 2001 National Championship Morris Sheehan, President
of American Bass Anglers announced the 2002 National Championship
would be held on Wheeler Lake out of Decatur Alabama October
6 - 11, 2002.
In October 2001 American Bass Anglers announced that at
the 2002 national championship, 3 Triton Tr21Pd bass boats
would be given to 3 anglers: 1 to the angler of the year,
1 to the winner of the national championship and 1 to be
given away by draw.
In December 2001 American Bass Anglers announced a host
of new sponsors including All Star Graphite Rods, Raymarine,
ABU Garcia, Spider Cast and Spider Line, Berkley, Johnson,
Minn Kota, Mitchell, Golden Flake and Bill Heard.
In April of 2002, Bill Heard Chevrolet joined American
Bass Anglers as a national sponsor.
The 2002 National Championship held on Wheeler Lake in
Decatur Alabama was won by Jimmy Mason. Jimmy won dual
titles of Angler of the Year and National Champion. Jimmy
is now fishing as a professional bass fisherman.
In the fall of 2003 American Bass Anglers announced Mercury
Marine as a national sponsor.
The 2003 National Championship was held on Kentucky Lake
where Gary Thacker won the championship and Angler of the
In the fall of 2003 American Bass Anglers announced Bayou
Outdoors as a national sponsor. Bayou Outdoors makes the
popular plastic baits packaged under the V and M brand.
In January 2004 American Bass Anglers announced Diamond
Cut Jeans as a national sponsor. Diamond Cut Jeans is sponsoring
the Diamond Cut Jeans Elite Team. For details see the Diamond
Cut Jeans Elite Team at www.americanbassanglers.com
In March 2004 American Bass Anglers announced Gander Mountain
as a national sponsor of ABA. Gander is a major retailer
in outdoor productsand has over 60 stores.
In April 2004 American Bass Anglers formally announced
the location of the 2004 National Championship to be held
on Wheeler Lake located in Decatur Alabama.
2004 Active Duty Army Member Pat Anderson or Ardmore,
AL wins dual tiles of National Champion and Angler of the
Year at Wheeler Lake in Decatur, AL with a three day total
2005, Ben Clemens of Mooringsport, LA wins
dual tiles of National Champion and Angler of the Year
on the Red River in Shreveport, LA with a three day total
November 2005, American Bass Angler announces several new
sponsors including: HiSeas, Keep Alive, Rejuvenade, EGO Nets,
Hooah Energy Bars, Gambler Worms and Wave Worm.
January 2006, American Bass Angler announces the 2006 30th
Anniversary National Championship will be held where it all
started 30 years ago at Kentucky Lake. The event will run
the 1st - 6th of October out of Kentucky Dam Marina and is
hosted by the Marshall County Tourism Commission.