Last year, Rusty White Jr. and Brian Elder just missed out on getting into the Alabama Bass Trail 100 Series. This year, they made sure they’d have a place in the ABT series, starting with the first event Jan. 21 at Lake Harris (known to locals as Lake Wedowee) by signing up as soon as registration opened.
The decision turned out to be a great one. The team captured first place among the 100 teams of professional and amateur anglers from across the country fishing for a total payout of $100,000. White and Elder collected $25,000 for their win, plus an extra $1,000 for the big fish payout. The two reeled in 20.07 pounds of bass, which included the 7.6-pound big fish.
Second-place finishers Brian Adamson and Ryan Lloyd, one of the hometown teams, landed 18.5 pounds of fish for a $15,000 payday. Jonathan Collins and Derek Hicks finished third with 17.87 pounds of fish and captured a $10,000 prize. The tournament series, in its third season, is held on three lakes. Next up is Millers Ferry on June 3, followed by Smith Lake on Nov. 4.
White told Alabama Bass Trail representatives that his and Elder’s plan was to “fish for big fish.”
“We came to win. We could have gone down the bank and caught 50-60 fish, but we were fishing for big fish,” he said. That meant focusing on isolated cover and structure near deep water, White said.
“When we made the decision to fish for big fish on the isolated stuff, we didn’t have anyone else fishing the same way we were all day,” he said.
Their strategy paid off. So, too, did the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce’s effort to host the event.
“East Alabama is home to an abundance of natural resources,” said Terry Smiley, vice president of Alabama Power Company’s Eastern Division. “Finding ways to elevate those assets is key to driving economic growth in the region and beyond. It is a privilege for our team to have supported the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce as they hosted the Alabama Bass Trails 100 Series on Lake Harris, locally known as Lake Wedowee. Securing high-quality events like this takes the entire community working together.
“We are pleased to hear that the largest spectator crowd ever reported by an ABT 100 Series was produced in our community and look forward to continuing this partnership in the future,” Smiley said.
Alabama Bass Trail Program Director Kay Donaldson spoke before Saturday’s weigh-in about chamber Executive Director Dorothy Tidwell’s determination to land an Alabama Bass Trail event.
“Miss Dorothy told me this back, I don’t know, five-six years ago, that we needed to come to Lake Wedowee. And a 100-boat tournament is a perfect size for this location, for this destination, for this fishery,” Donaldson said.
“This is a special place and, if you’re from here, pat yourself on the back. Because we have had the best hospitality this week. … Everybody has been just phenomenal to us. We can’t ask for any better,” she said.
“I do want to say a thank you to the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, Alabama Power, to Eric (Morris) and his great staff here at Wedowee Marine South, they just do a phenomenal job and it really makes doing an event like this pretty easy.”
Adamson said he and Lloyd were excited for the Alabama Bass Trail to finally come to Lake Wedowee.
“This is the biggest event ever at Lake Wedowee, and the whole community has been looking forward to it,” he said. “Wedowee is a very small town; we have a Jack’s, a grocery store and a couple of gas stations, and when the ABT comes, it really makes a big impact on the community.”
For more about the event, click here.