The Ram American Fishing Tour
The American Fishing Tour is one of the oldest national bass fishing tours in the US. It started in the mid-70s as Military Bass Anglers Association. In 2000, the series was renamed to American Bass Anglers and opened to all non-military. Here is some basic information on this national bass tournament tour.
The tour offers a national format for the true grass root anglers. With a low entry fee of $70 for a one-day event and a path to a big national championship. The concept is very simple, fish local, do well and advance to a year-end championship where the prizes are huge. For example, this year at the Championship in October, there will be three fully rigged Triton Boats with Mercury Outboards that will be won. A Triton 21TRX to the Champion, a Triton 21TRX to the Angler of the Year and a Triton 19TRX to the top placing non-boater.
How do I find a local division? First, visit www.drawtrail.com , click on “Tournaments” and you can search by state, lake or even date. You can always call American Bass Anglers Member Services at (256)232-0406 and they will help you find the closest division.
So, how does the tour work?
The Ram American Fishing Tour is a draw format. What does that mean? Boaters and non-boaters complete equally and randomly drawn to fish together for the day. Ray Scott said it best, “To learn how to fish competitively it is important to fish with as many good anglers as you can”.
The draw format is the best way for beginning anglers to learn the sport of competitive bass fishing. With a low entry fee of $70, it is a very inexpensive way to learn a lot of different styles of fishing techniques for both boaters and non-boaters.
Since boaters and non-boaters are paired together one of the greatest parts about the Ram American Fishing Tour is how the points are structured. It provides several benefits that some might miss by not understanding how the point system works.
You can fish as many events as you would like, however, only your four best one-day events plus your best two-day event will count toward your total national points. At a one-day event, first place points with a minimum field of just 20 are worth 200 points with a one-point separation per place. So, second place is 199, third is 198 and so on. With your best four, one-day events total the best possible points is 800.
Each division will hold at least 6 one-day events; however, you can fish any one-day event anywhere in the country for your personal national points standing. If you’re in Florida on vacation and there is an ABA tournament, just show up, pay your entry fee, and go fish. ABA has many members that fish a lot of events in a single year doing just this. When anglers are traveling on business, or with family, and find a local ABA event they know they are welcome to fish these events.
At the end of each division’s season, they each hold a two-day divisional championship. First place points, with a minimum field of just 20, is worth 400 points with a two-point separation per place. So, second place is 398, third is 396 and so on. With your best four one-day event points total plus your two-day championship, the best possible points are 1,200. To fish a two-day championship, you must have fished at least four one-day qualifying events.
So how do the points impact you as an angler?
National points connect you to the National Championship. Divisional points connect you to Divisional Angler of the Year, and ultimately the Angler of the Year competition at the National Championship.
Points are tracked both divisionally and nationally. All the points you earn within a division are counted as divisional points. If these results are you best four one-day events and your best two-day event this is also your national points.
If you fish multiple division’s the points from your best four one-day events and your best two-day event nationally will be counted towards your national points.
National points are also used to track the top anglers in each Service Team. Originally set up to recognize the top anglers of each military service branch, this also now includes non-military, Homeland Security, and Lady Anglers. At the National Championship, the top 5 anglers from each service team are given special awards and recognition at the national championship awards banquet.
How does the National Championship work?
Anglers from all over the country compete in qualifying events from which the top 500 anglers nationally are invited to the National Championship. The top 250 in points are invited to fish as boaters and 251-500 are invited to compete as non-boaters.
For many members, this is a seasonal trip to see old friends and they all come to compete. There is a lot available for anglers at this championship.
The ABA Angler of the Year competition is the most unique in the fishing industry. Here is how it works; Anglers compete in their home division for a minimum of four one-day events and the divisional two-day Championship. The top angler, by points, in each division at the end of the season is the divisional AOY. Each of these AOY’s is invited to compete in the National Championship. At the Championship, the top finishing divisional AOY after three days of competition will be crowned Angler of the Year.
There are several competitions going on simultaneously within the Championship. Angler of the Year might be the most notable, but there are several other competitions going on. The top 5 from each service team will be recognized. These service teams are; Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Non-Military and Lady Anglers.
There is also a four-man team competition always ran by the local ABA director as a side pot. Anglers form a 4-man team, their combined weight for the week is tracked, and the top teams receive a side pot payout. It might be for the payout, but it is also for bragging rights.
Big Bass at the Championship historically pays out more than any big bass pot in the country. As a side pot at $10 a day, it has paid well over $5,000 each day of competition and Lake Eufaula has some giant bass.
While competitors may not win the championship, they can still win sizable cash payouts and great Sponsor draw prizes. Even if you choose to fish as a non-boater you can still compete in all of these other competitions plus finish as the top non-boater and receive a 2017 Triton Boat TRX 19 with a Mercury Marine 150ProXS. That is almost a 40k prize before sponsor products are added to it.
How does ABA keep the Championship fair as possible?
There is a 30 day off limits period before the championship to keep all anglers off the water and create an even playing field. ABA also polygraphs heavily at this event to make sure the event is clean. If you finish in the money it is very likely you will get the honor of taking a polygraph.
How do you get started with the Ram American Fishing Tour?
First, become a member. It is $35 a year and you will receive a lot of benefits for your annual membership. Second, find a local division which is easy to do on the web. Here is a good link that shows all divisions and you can search by state to make the list easier to use.
The website drawtrail.com is loaded with information such as Tournament Schedules, Results, Points and lots of news and items for you to explore.
Once you have found a division close to home you can register online or at the ramp the morning of the event. ABA believes that this part should be easy, show up, sign up and go fishing. It’s always good to contact your local director to assist you even further.
Also, the national office of American Bass Anglers has a fully staffed Member Services group that is here to assist you in any way you might need. Simply call the office at (256)232-0406 and you can choose the option for tournament registration or membership and be connected to a live person.
Divisional One-Day Qualifying Events
Angler of the Year - The Final Round
Visit www.DrawTrail.com for rules, payouts and other important information.
Membership - $35 Annually
Divisional One-Day: $70
Divisional Two-Day Championship: $140
National Championship: $170
2018 Season Fall/Winter Schedule
|Alabama Northwest||12/23/2017||Wilson Lake|
|Texas - Central||1/06/2018||Lake Waco|
|Florida - West||1/06/2018||Toho|
|Florida Harris Chain||1/06/2018||Harris Chain|
|South Carolina - Greenwood||1/07/2018||Clarks Hill|
|Florida - Seminole||1/07/2018||Seminole|
|South Carolina - Savannah River||1/13/2018||Savannah River|
|Louisiana - Toledo Bend South||1/13/2018||Toledo Bend|
|Mississippi Gulf Coast||1/13/2018||Back Bay|
|Alabama - Mobile||1/13/2018||Tensaw|
|Alabama Northwest||1/13/2018||Wheeler Lake|
|Florida - Istokpoga South||1/14/2018||Lake Istokpoga|
|Florida - St Johns North||1/14/2018||Santa Fe|
|Louisiana - Shreveport||1/17/2018||Cross|
|North Central Louisiana||1/20/2018||Claiborne|
|Texas - Houston||1/20/2018||Conroe|
|Georgia - Blackshear||1/20/2018||Blackshear|
|Arkansas North||1/20/2018||Greers Ferry|
|Texas - Sam Rayburn North||1/21/2018||Sam Rayburn|
|Florida - Toho||1/21/2018||Toho|
|Alabama Lay Lake - Logan Martin||1/27/2018||Lay Lake|
|Georgia East||1/28/2018||Clarks Hill|
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