- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - For Bloomington, it’s a first-time fishing spectacle.

A total of 112 anglers from eight states have gathered here for the three-day 2014 Bassmasters Northern Divisional Tournament, which will officially kick off at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Fourwinds Resort and Marina.

Indiana and seven other states will be represented by teams - each made up of 12 adults plus two high school anglers. The 96 adults have a chance to win a fishing boat and cash prizes, and to eventually advance to the Bassmaster Classic, a tourney boasting $500,000 in total prize money.

“The Bassmaster Classic is the Super Bowl of fishing,” said John Albertson, youth director for Indiana B.A.S.S., the nation’s largest bass-fishing tournament series. “This week’s tourney gives the average Joe a shot of getting there.

“Four of the last five years, Indiana has sent someone to the Bassmaster Classic, which is pretty amazing,” Albertson told The Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/1poL2kL ). “We’re not a fishing state, so we have to compete against people in other states who fish year-round.”

One adult competitor from each of the eight states - the person who beats out the other 11 anglers on his team - will advance to the Bass National Championship in Monroe, Louisiana, in November. At that tournament, each fisherman who bests the other seven anglers in his eight-state division will advance to the Bassmaster Classic in Greenville, North Carolina, in February. This year, Rod Keel and Kenneth “Bucko” Reed, both of Bloomington, will be competing in the tourney as part of Indiana’s 12-man team.

At the same time, each of the eight state teams is competing for a new Triton fishing boat worth close to $50,000. The team that wins the boat will sell it on the open market and split the money among the team members. Teams who don’t win the boat can win cash prizes.

The two high schoolers on the Indiana team are Bloomington’s Blake Albertson and Evan Wheeler, who finished third among 60 teams in the BASS high school national tournament. They are not eligible for cash prizes or the Triton boat, and can’t advance to further competitions, but their fish will be added to their team’s total, and they will compete for a high school championship trophy.

Spectators can watch the live weigh-ins, which will begin at 2:45 p.m. each day, at the Fourwinds Marina. The weigh-ins will be broadcast and can be viewed live at bassmaster.com. The tourney broadcast is expected to draw 1.5 million viewers.

Jordan Riley, sports sales manager for the Hoosier Sports Corp. - which is hosting the tourney along with Visit Bloomington and the Indiana BASS Federation Nation - said hosting a fishing tournament of this stature is new for Lake Monroe and the Fourwinds, adding that “we want to show the event directors that we’re capable of hosting great events so they’ll continue to come back.”

The Bassmasters Northern Divisional Tournament rotates from state to state in an eight-state region that includes Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director, said this is the first time the tournament has been in Bloomington.

“Lake Monroe is a big lake that fishes well,” Stewart said. “The Fourwinds Resort is beautiful and gives us plenty of lodging space. Seven of the eight teams are staying there.”

Stewart said about 250 people - counting the anglers’ families and two fishing alternates per team - are in Bloomington for the tourney. They all must buy an Indiana fishing license to compete, and also pay launch fees, adding money to the state coffers.

“Many of these guys have been here since last week - staying in the hotel and buying food and gas,” he said. “We figure they’re spending $100 a person each day for their hotel room plus $40 to $50 a day for food and another $40 to $50 for fuel for their boats. They’ll have a large economic impact on the area.”

Tony Suttile, general manager of the Fourwinds Resort and Marina, confirmed that the tourney is a boon to business.

“Our weekend business is normally very strong, but it’s great when we can attract a group like this during the week. It has a big financial impact on us,” he said. “During the week we’re normally at 50 percent occupancy, but now, we’re at 100 percent occupancy.”


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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