Three legendary lakes will serve as hosts for the 2011 Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix.
The season begins in late March on Lake Lanier in northeast Georgia, known for its outstanding spotted bass fishing. The series moves to Missouri’s famed Table Rock Lake in June to tangle with the mix of largemouth, spots and smallmouth. The season wraps up in August on Neely Henry Lake in east Alabama, where the PAA Angler of the Year race and qualifications for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic will be finalized.
This year’s PAA Tournament Series fields will feature some of the nation’s top pros competing for cash and a new Nitro Boats Z-8 outfitted with a Mercury 225 Optimax. The first two days’ weigh-ins will take place at the host lakes, with the final weigh-in featuring the top qualifiers to be held at nearby Bass Pro Shops.
“We have tried our best to accommodate anglers’ needs and at the same time select locations that are as popular as possible,” said PAA President Chad Morgenthaler. “I believe we have a good handle on that in 2011 and look forward to continuing to work toward going to the best fisheries the nation has to offer as the time allows us.
“I’m excited about next year’s schedule. We’re hitting the lakes at awfully good times. It will still show the diversity of the field due to the tournaments not being all in spring, summer or autumn. We’re spread out and should see some great tournaments.”
New for the 2011 season is the inaugural Bass Pro Shops PAA All Star Series tournament, scheduled for April 21-23 on Lake Ray Hubbard in Garland, Texas. The no-entry fee tournament features a field of 50 invited qualifiers from the 2010 PAA Tournament Season, champions of the 2010 Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup, and the 2010 B.A.S.S. and FLW Tour anglers of the year.
The schedule and highlights:
March 31-April 2
Lake Lanier Islands, Ga.
Providing ample room for the field to move about, scenic Lake Lanier has been the site of numerous professional tournaments over the years.
It’s home to a legendary population of spotted bass that will give anglers a test of their skills. Look for topwaters, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jigs, shakey rigs and the drop shot to all get a workout, with the upper stretches of the Chattahoochee River offering the possibility for some action with largemouth for shallow-water anglers.
The field will most likely find pre-spawn and spawning spotted bass as well, increasing the chances for big catches of “magnum” spots.
"Lake Lanier is a beautiful lake with a ton of fish in it,” said BassCat pro John Crews of Virginia. “It has a ton of fingers and coves so it fishes big. With big spots and nice largemouth, it will be a fun tournament for the PAA field to begin the 2011 season.”
Lake Lanier Islands Resort in Lake Lanier Islands, just 45 minutes from Atlanta, is the host. The final weigh-in will take place at Bass Pro Shops in Lawrenceville, Ga.
The second stop on the 2011 PAA Tournament Series takes the field to Missouri and Table Rock Lake, no stranger to hosting major events throughout the year.
Bass Pro Shops pro Brian Snowden of Missouri lives near and has guided on Table Rock for years. Along with December, he said June is one of the top months to be on the lake.
“It will be consistently good and take probably 18 to 20 pounds a day to win,” Snowden said.“It’ll mainly be structure fishing unless the water’s up in the bushes, and if it’s up then we’ll have a good shallow bite.
"This will be a fun tournament. People will catch a lot of fish and June is one of the best times of the year for the lake. You’ll catch 15-20 keepers a day.”
Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB is the host, with Table Rock Lake State Park and Marina the site of the daily launches and first two days weigh-in. Bass Pro Shops at Branson Landing, with its stunning fountain display and ampitheatre, will play host for the final weigh-in.
Neely Henry Lake
Known for its diversity, Neely Henry Lake on Alabama’s legendary Coosa River will round out the season as the pros seek the PAA Angler of the Year title and qualifying berths in the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.
Neely Henry is the second impoundment on the Coosa River and offers a trio of opportunities for anglers. The upper end is riverine, with small cuts, boulders and steep channel ledges. In the midlake area, tributaries such as Canoe Creek and open water in Minnesota Bend provide spotted and largemouth bass with ample habitat. The lower end near Neely Henry Dam is littered with rocky points and a few areas with docks and smaller creeks.
“There will be enough room to spread out and fishing will be tough but good that time of year,” said Skeeter pro Matt Herren of Alabama, who has fished the Coosa chain for years. “Neely Henry is capable of producing some big catches and it should be a solid tournament. I always look forward to fishing on the Coosa River lakes.”
The City of Gadsden welcomes the series finale, with the field based at Gadsden City Docks. The final weigh-in is slated for Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, east of Birmingham.
PAA All Star Series
The inaugural Bass Pro Shops PAA All Star Series kicks off in April on Lake Ray Hubbard in Garland, east of Dallas.
Fifty of the top professional bass fishermen in the world will be invited to participate in this star-studded tournament. The host site will be the Bass Pro Shops in Garland on Lake Ray Hubbard, providing the anglers and fans easy access to the lake, weigh-in and facilities for three days of fun and excitement.
Invited pros include the top 44 anglers from the final points standings of the 2010 Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix, the top Legends qualifier from those standings, the defending 2010 champions of the B.A.S.S. Bassmaster Classic and FLW Outdoors Forrest Wood Cup championships, and the 2010 Bassmaster Angler of the Year and the FLW Tour Angler of the Year.
“Lake Ray Hubbard and Bass Pro Shops in Garland will be terrific venues for the anglers and fans in this super event,” said Danny Blandford, PAA Program Director. “It’s a one-stop location, with lakeside docking and weigh-in facilities, a great Bass Pro Shops, various entertainment and dining options and a top fishery.
“We’re excited to be returning to Garland and look forward to this being the first of many first PAA All Star Series events. It’s been a goal of the PAA since its inception to provide anglers with no-entry fee tournaments and this is the first step to achieving that goal.”
The City of Garland Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official host.
Registration for the 2011 PAA Tournament Series will be Dec. 13-30 for any angler who competed in a 2010 PAA Tournament Series event.
During that period, Priority Entry will be given to the Top 100 from the final 2010 PAA Tournament Series “Season Series” points standings. Those standings can be found on FishPAA.com/rankings/aoy-points
Open registration for all anglers will begin Jan. 3. On and after this date, Priority Entry will be given to any angler who registers and provides deposits for all three 2011 PAA Tournament Series events.
Registration includes submitting a deposit of $750 per tournament. Entry fees for the 2011 PAA Tournament Series season will remain unchanged, at $2,500 per event.
Registration and deposit may be made by contacting the PAA at (270) 527-2030 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST.
About the PAA– The Professional Anglers Association is a non-profit organization that gives professional anglers a unified voice in order to aid in the growth of the sport of professional bass fishing. The PAA also aims to administer educational programs to the average angler, to increase enjoyment of the sport, and to embrace sound conservation practices to further the future of the sport. Web: www.FishPAA.com