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Fishing tour to make Lake Wedowee debut

The Alabama Bass Trail 100 fishing tournament series will open its 2023 tournament schedule this weekend on Lake Wedowee with a one-day competition that will net the winner $25,000.

It’s the first time the ABT has held an event at Lake Wedowee, which could signify a greater future presence for the state’s largest professional fishing tour here in Randolph County.

The Randolph County Chamber of Commerce and Wedowee Marine were the key players in bringing this event to the lake. Chamber president Dorothy Tidwell said that ABT program director Kay Donaldson has had Lake Wedowee on her radar for years.

“She had seen Lake Wedowee and seen how beautiful it was, and she wanted to bring a tournament here,” Tidwell said.

But the rural setting of the lake and a lack of accommodations (hotels, restaurants, etc.) in Randolph County did not lend itself to the Trail’s typical multi-day events that take place at other more populated areas throughout the state.

So in 2021, ABT established the 100 series, which consists of three one-day events at lakes that don’t normally host tournaments on the main circuit.

Getting Lake Wedowee into that 100 series will provide a nice economic boost for the lake and the county, according to Tidwell. The chamber invested approximately $10,000 to get the event here. But professional fishermen and others who plan to compete in Saturday’s event have been fishing the lake and staying in and around Wedowee for weeks in preparation.

“They’re staying in rental houses, staying at the Old Waters Inn, shopping locally at WM Grocery and spending money here,” Tidwell said. “ So it’s got an economic impact on Randolph County.”

Tidwell added that, depending on how this Saturday’s event goes, it could lead to future ABT events on the lake.

As the name indicates the 100 series features a maximum of 100 boats that will compete, with cash prizes awarded to the top 20 finishers, as well a $1,000 prize for the largest fish.

The event is open to amateurs and pros alike and requires a $3,000 entry fee per boat.

Wedowee Marine South, which is a sponsor of the ABT statewide, will be the home base for the tournament, with Thursday’s registration and check-in taking place there. The tournament will launch from there as well Saturday, with “safe daylight” listed as the start time.

The top prize in the tournament is $25,000, places 2-10 will make $12,500 down to $2,000, and places 11-20 will make $1,500 for a total prize purse of $100,000.

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