Top Military Anglers Heading to Alabama
ATHENS, Ala. - The best military anglers in the country will gather at Lewis Smith Lake in Jasper, Alabama - located in Walker County - on April 29 thru May 4, 2012. During the 22nd annual American Bass Anglers Military Team Bass Championship, military fishermen will be fishing for bragging rights and a trip to fish the legendary lakes created by bass fishing icon and owner of the Trophy Bass Retreat, Ray Scott.
Any active duty military or Coast Guard member, Department of Defense civilian, retired military member, honorably discharged veteran, military family members at least 16 years old and Department of Defense contractors can participate. Angling teams of two people pay $150 per team to enter, if the team registers by April 19, 2012. After that, the entry fee rises to $175. Anglers can also enter an optional big bass pot for $30 per team with the hope of collecting cash rewards for landing lunkers. Each team may weigh in up to five bass per day.
After three days, the team with the largest bag will win a three-night/four-day fishing adventure to Ray Scott’s Trophy Bass Retreat. The legendary trophy bass lakes will offer two lucky anglers the opportunity to fish in the wake of Presidents, First Ladies and fishing superstars like Kevin Van Dam, Rick Clunn, Roland Martin and Bill Dance – all amidst 200 acres of live oak, Spanish moss and whitetail deer - courtesy of Early Times Kentucky Whisky.
In addition, one lucky person will win a seven-day vacation to any destination in the world served by the Armed Forces Vacation Club in a drawing. Other high placing tournament finishers will receive cash prizes based upon the total number of entries.
The public is invited to attend the weigh-ins, which begin at 3 p.m. each tournament day at the Smith Lake Dam Launch Area. In addition, the Bama Girls will entertain during a free USO show at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 30th at the Community Health Systems Building in Jasper. The public is also allowed free admittance to this patriotic event.
“This will be the third tournament for myself and Chief Petty Officer Bob Hughes”, said Jason Ray, a Senior Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. “We fished Dale Hollow, Eufaula and now Smith Lake. I grew up fishing on the Ohio River and other lakes and rivers throughout Kentucky. My father and I always fished together and still do every chance we get. I’m looking forward to the camaraderie and of course the competition of the tournament. It is always a blast to meet other members of the Armed Forces, no matter what branch, and discuss the passion of fishing and also take time to relax and reflect. This is the greatest tournament going.” he concluded.
Jason and his wife, Stephanie and their three children - Haley, Nathan, and Nicholas - are stationed at Point Loma, California. They are originally from Louisville, Kentucky.
Fishing in his first Military Bass Anglers tourney is U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Joseph Cusimano, who is stationed at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, located in Virginia Beach. Cusimano, who calls Ragley, Louisiana his hometown, has fished his entire life. “My earliest memories of fishing are with my father and my grandmother who took me quite often,” he said. “I’m excited over fishing on a brand new body of water I’ve never been to. It will certainly test my skills as an angler.”
“My funniest story I ever have while fishing was when I took a fellow Marine fishing with me. We had only been on the water about 30 minutes and had just gotten to one of my favorite spots, when I heard a shuffle in the back of the boat…I looked back to see him hanging off the side of the boat! Before I could get to him, he had fallen in the lake. When I asked him why he didn’t yell for help, he said he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of falling out of a boat that was sitting still. We still laugh about that to this day”, he said.
“I don’t think there is a word in any dictionary to define how pumped I am to fish this event” he added, “I had planned to fish the event last year, however, a last minute deployment changed all of that.”
Joseph Cusimano’s wife, Orathay, served fourteen years in the Navy, where they met. They have three children: 13 year old Tristen, Charlease of 7 years and, the youngest, Joseph, Jr. who is 3 years old. Joseph grew up in Lake Charles.
For Master Sergeant Danny Christ, fishing has always been a part of his life. “I grew up fishing with my Dad and Grandfather,” said Christ. "They both fished tournaments but had two different styles of fishing. My Father was a power angler and my Grandfather was real slow and methodical. I learned from both and created my own style. My Dad and Grandfather both lived on a lake so I was lucky enough to get to fish all the time. This tournament on Smith Lake will be my fourth year in a row and last year I had just returned from deployment 3 days before it started, giving me just enough time to drive to Clarks Hill!" exclaimed Danny.
"One of my best stories from these tournaments happened on Lake Eufaula in South Alabama. I was throwing a Strike King Rag Tail Shad on 65 pound braid. As I was reeling it through the grass, a four-foot gator came out of nowhere and grabbed it. I fought the gator all the way back to the boat thinking about how tasty gator nuggets were until it got to the boat and was biting at the trolling motor. I pulled out my cutters and clipped the line. The gator followed us for about 15 minutes. I am guessing he was a little ticked. My wife, Virginia, who is also my fishing partner, very calmly taped the whole thing… I’m hoping they don’t have gators at Smith Lake!” said Master Sergeant Christ.
Danny and his wife, who serves as a Technical Sergeant at Minot Air Force Base, are both “super pumped and have been looking forward to this event all year.” Danny calls Chillicothe, Ohio his hometown. He is a Master Sergeant and currently serving as a First Sergeant, also at Minot AFB in North Dakota.
For Major Mike Rasco participating in this tournament will give him the opportunity to return home and fish on waters he fished as a boy. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, he grew up fishing Lay and Smith Lakes - both located in the central part of the state. “As the other guys said, my Dad was also the first person that ever took me fishing. One of my greatest experiences has been to take my father-in-law on some of these events and exposing him to multi-day tournaments. This will be my fourth MBA event, and I am so pumped and looking forward to catching spotted bass. I have loved fishing these events that allows me to meet other service members. This time will be special for me as I get to spend time with my family!” he stated.
Major Rasco, who serves as Battalion Executive Officer at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and his wife, Merry, have three children: Audrey of 7 years, Mattie 4 years, and 18 month Fisher.
Sponsors for the Event Include:
The Walker County Chamber of Commerce, Jasper, Alabama, Triton Boats, Early Times Kentucky Whisky, Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil, Anheuser Busch, Anglers Advantage Insurance, Carlisle Tire & Wheel, The Armed Forces Vacation Club, Moon Pie, Rejuvenade, Innovative Outdoors – Moss Hawg, Lucky Craft Lures, US Reel, and Odyssey Batteries.
For more information on the Military Bass Anglers and to enter, call (888) 203-6222. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com.
About American Bass Anglers
American Bass Anglers offers over 1,000 tournaments per year in 40 states that are designed for the weekend angler. American Bass Anglers commitment is to provide low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers and the American Fishing Tour, The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series or the American Couples Series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.
Schedule of Wvents: http://www.militarybassanglers.com/ScheduleOfEvents.php