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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 sports.

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 to expand.

In 1979 Bill Vance was the MBAA National Champion and won the first boat and motor combination given away at the national championship.

In 1980 the National Championship was held on Toledo Bend, TX, and James Parker flew in from Alaska to win it for a second time.

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.

At 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 trail.

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 year titles.

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

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.

October 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 of 42.91.

October 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 of 25.81.

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.


History of American Bass Anglers


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