2023 Military Team Bass Tournament Lake Hartwell
ATHENS, Ala. – Military bass anglers, each representing their respective service branch or affiliation, will head to Lake Hartwell near Anderson, S.C. for the 32nd annual Military Team Bass Tournament, presented by American Bass Anglers and Caymas Boats. The official practice period begins on Saturday, April 30, and goes through May 2. The event is three days long, May 3, 4, and 5.
- Entry Fee: $150 Per Team, Big Bass: $10 per day (Paid Onsite)
- Permissive TDY Lettter Invitation (PDF Download)
- Rules Link
- Registration Link
- Launch Order is Based on Date and Time of Registration (See currently signed up)
- Payout with 150 teams $4,000 first place with the top 20% of the field receiving a check.
- Big Bass is $10 per day with big bass being awarded each day of the event. With 150 Teams and they all get in big bass, the daily award can be up to $1,500.
“On behalf of everyone involved with American Bass Anglers, I welcome all the competitors who will participate in this special tournament,” stated Morris Sheehan, ABA President. “Of all the events we run each year, we always look forward to this special event the most. This is our way of saying thanks to all who have served or are currently serving this great nation. We owe so much to our military members, their families, and those who support them. Each one sacrificed so much for all of us. Thanks and good luck to everyone. I hope every angler finds big fish and enjoys the spirit of competition and camaraderie that this very special event offers.”
The event will run out of the Green Pond Landing, located at 470 Green Pond Road in Anderson. The public is invited to attend the weigh-ins for free.
Any active-duty or retired Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, National Guard, Reserve, or Coast Guard member can participate in these military tournaments. In addition, families of military members 16 years old or older who hold Department of Defense identification cards, veterans with an honorable or general discharge who possess a DD-214, and Department of Defense civilians, and military contractors may also compete in this event. Contestants between 16 and 18 years of age must have a parent or guardian's signature prior to entering the tournament.
All participants must be a member of American Bass Anglers. Membership is $35 annually and ABA has always provided free one-year membership for any active-duty military personnel. If you are on active duty call (256)232-0406 and Member Services will set you up with a one-year free membership.
All pre-registration will be accomplished through the ABA national office. TO REGISTER CLICK HERE
Teams desiring to register on-site must register in person prior to noon on May 2, 2023, and pay the $25 late fee. At least one member of each team must attend the mandatory rules and safety briefing at 6 p.m. on May 2, 2023. Failure to attend the safety briefing will result in forfeiture of all entry fees and elimination from the tournament.
During the 2022 Military Team Bass Tournament, the father and son team of Rickey and Dillon Roth won with an outstanding wire-to-wire victory at West Point Lake on the Georgia-Alabama line. Beating 69 other military teams, the Roths pulled in three perfect daily tournament limits of five bass to win the event with 15 fish weighing 34.79 pounds. They beat their nearest competition by nearly 6.5 pounds and collected $2,000 for the victory.
“It feels good to win this event,” exclaimed Dillon, who at that time was a 27-year-old Air Force aircraft mechanic assigned to Hurlburt Field, Fla. He grew up fishing with his Marine Corps veteran father. “A lot of my friends back at the base gave me the business because the Air Force gave me free time off to fish the tournament, but they all wanted to do it too! They were really proud of me, but jealous.”
This year, the anglers return to the Georgia-South Carolina line. Lake Hartwell covers about 56,000 acres on the Savannah River, which spans the border between Georgia and South Carolina. One of three large reservoirs on the Savannah River, Lake Hartwell offers anglers more than 962 miles of shoreline to fish. The Savannah River formed with the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers, now submerged beneath the waters of Lake Hartwell.
The entire system can produce giant largemouth bass with some fish exceeding 16 pounds. The lake also holds good numbers of spotted bass up to five pounds, especially in the rivers. Anglers can run many miles up the Tugaloo or Seneca Rivers. The Tugaloo contains many shallow coves and sandy flats that provide good places to catch spotted bass. Anglers also find flooded timber and stumps in many backwaters that hold lunker largemouths.
During a March 11, 2023, ABA Open Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, South Carolina Division 9 tournament held at Lake Hartwell, Emil B. Wagner won the Boater Division with a 5-bass tournament limit weighing 19.10 pounds. Wagner anchored that bag with a 5.45-pounder that boosted his average to 3.82 pounds. That tournament also launched out of Green Pond Landing.
“I caught a bunch of bass up shallow,” Wagner advised. “I pulled into a ditch in the morning and they were schooling right and left. I caught a lot of bass on a little swimbait in the morning and a shaky head later in the day. I probably caught about 60 fish and did a lot of culling.”
Derek J. Lehtonen of Woodruff, S.C. placed sixth among the boaters in that March event with five bass going 14.87 pounds. One of them weighed 6.44 pounds, giving Lehtonen bragging rights for the tournament big bass.
In the Co-Angler Division during that March tournament, Damon J. Phillips from the hosting town of Anderson, S.C. landed a 3-bass division limit for 11.74 pounds. He capped that catch with a 4.88-pounder to take the division lunker honors and finish with a 3.91-pound average.
“I threw a worm all day,” Phillips revealed. “With that worm, I tried a little bit of everything, including a wacky rig. I caught eight fish and culled some.”
Other good baits and techniques in that March tournament included dock fishing with various soft plastics, football jigs dragged on the bottom, shaky heads fished offshore, and flukes on jigheads.
There will be an onsite check-in Tuesday, May 2nd, 3 - 5 pm and a Mandatory safety briefing for all teams Tuesday, May 2nd, at 6 pm. A full schedule of events will be posted at MilitaryBassAnglers.com
In 1975, the Military Bass Anglers Association was formed. This organization dedicated itself to providing bass anglers in the military opportunities to compete in tournaments with other military members. The Military Team Bass Tournament began in 1991 as a way to promote fishing and camaraderie among all the service branches.
In 2000, Morris Sheehan, a life member of MBAA who retired from the U.S. Army, bought the organization. He renamed it American Bass Anglers Inc., and relocated it to Athens, Ala. The Military Team Bass Tournament brings all service branches together for a fun-filled week of competition and ultimate annual service bragging rights.
Anyone who wishes to fish an ABA event, must become an ABA member. ABA members can receive discounts from some sponsors. For example, Optima Batteries will give ABA members 25 percent off and free shipping on any battery. Membership costs $35 a year, but anglers can save money by signing up for multiple years. Life membership costs $450.
American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, T-H Marine, Power Pole, RT Outdoors, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com, and LurePartsOnline.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments for the weekend angler and, at the same time, offering each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression.
For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Open Series, the American Fishing Tour, the American Couples Series, the annual Military Team Bass Tournament, and the Top 150 Solo Tour, all presented by Caymas Boats, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406.
This story was written by ABA staff writer John N. Felsher. To submit articles of interest email email@example.com.
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