Introducing Some New Directors for the 2023 Season
ATHENS, Ala. – With hundreds of tournaments held in many states across the country, American Bass Anglers is always searching for and talking to qualified anglers to run ABA local bass tournaments. ABA just announced several new incoming tournament directors who will be running events throughout the nation in 2023.
“We welcome these new tournament directors and thank them for running tournaments for the weekend bass angler,” commented Morris Sheehan, President of American Bass Anglers, Inc. “I, too, was a tournament director and know well how much time and dedication it takes to run these tournaments. Tournament directors are the first to the ramp and the last to leave and are an integral part of American Bass Anglers. We appreciate the efforts of all of our tournament directors across this country. They work tirelessly to run great events for ABA members.”
Each tournament director is responsible for organizing, scheduling, and conducting the events in that division. Using ABA guidelines, these directors run high-quality, well-operated local tournaments in all the ABA trails, presented by Caymas Boats.
Regardless of location or tournament trail, the goal remains the same -- to conduct a safe event that awards good payouts and offers great competition for the weekend bass anglers. In addition, all of the ABA tournament directors bring considerable experience in operating bass tournaments for the weekend angler in these various ABA trails.
New Directors for the American Fishing Tour Presented by Caymas Boats
Massachusetts - New England West Division 97 (Upcoming Fall Schedule Link)
Beginning in the north, ABA is restarting Massachusetts - New England West Division 97 of the American Fishing Tour, presented by Caymas Boats. Roger LaFleur will be the new tournament director for the division. These AFT division tournament directors are responsible for scheduling, promoting, and operating a minimum of six tournaments each season on their local lakes. This division will fish places in New England like the Connecticut River and Lake Shirley near Lunenburg, Mass.
For the past 20 years, LaFleur worked for Hyundai Motor America. He is currently an automotive engineering supervisor living in Fitchburg, Mass. His two sons attend college. His personal best largemouth to date weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces.
“I’ve been associated with ABA on and off for about seven years,” LaFleur said. “I am not the best bass fisherman on the planet, but I love being out in the boat and I love seeing my friends catch fish. I just enjoy the tournaments so much even when I don’t catch anything. I have been fishing tournaments for around 20 years now. Division 97 was a closed trail and I wanted to get it running again. There are a lot of good fishermen in this area who deserve to have a trail to fish.”
Connecticut Division 6
In Connecticut, A.J. Said replaces Tom Dupis in Division 6. Said is a welder and fabricator who lives in North Grosvenordale, Conn. The 34-year-old has been associated with ABA for four years. He’s been a tournament bass angler for more than 20 years and fished several clubs in both New York and Connecticut. The division fishes places like Candlewood Lake, Lake Lillinonah, Lake Zoar, and the Connecticut River.
“I started fishing junior clubs in New York,” Said recalled. “Fishing is my life and I try to instill that in my two boys. I wanted to become a tournament director when our current TD was stepping down. If I didn’t then, it was going to dissolve and I did not want to see that happen. We have a great group of guys and I wanted to keep the division going. I plan to add more tournaments and some different locations that can accommodate a bigger trail. I am certain I can grow our trail to its fullest potential.”
New Jersey Division 10
Down the coast to New Jersey, Nick Chaballa takes over Division 10 from Don Philpot. Chaballa works as a senior plan reviewer and erosion control specialist at Somerset Union Soil Conservation District. The 30-year-old has been fishing ABA events for seven years. He won three Division Angler of the Year titles in a row between 2017 and 2020. He recently married Trisha Canize. The division fishes places like Lakes Greenwood and Hopatcong.
“I have been fishing since my father would take me as a little kid,” Chaballa remembered. “I love tournament fishing and fishing in general. Nothing in this world puts me more at peace than having a fishing rod in my hand. When the current TD stepped down, an opportunity presented itself. I knew someone had to step up and I figured why not me? I’d like to add some new lakes to our schedule, like Pompton Lake and Merrill Creek Reservoir. I want to thank ABA and my fellow Division 10 anglers for giving me the opportunity to be the director.”
South Carolina - Northwest Division 25 (2023 Schedule Link)
Moving farther down the Atlantic Coast, the South Carolina - Northwest Division 25 changes leadership with Zachary Green replacing Grover Jones. Green works as an assistant manager for Morgan Concrete Company in Athens, Ga., lives in Elberton, Ga, and has been a member for over six years. The division regularly fishes Lakes Russell, Hartwell, and Clarks Hill.
“I’ve been associated with ABA for about six years,” Green reported. “When I found out the previous director was leaving the position, I wanted to become the TD to carry on in Division 25. I don’t plan any significant changes at this time. I will try to carry on as the director before me and run a very successful division.”
Florida – Harris Chain Division 20 (2023 Schedule Link)
In the Sunshine State, Henry C. Montgomery will run Florida – Harris Chain Division 20. He replaces Robert Webb. Recently promoted, the Keystone Heights, Fla. angler works as an electronics technician in the IT department of the Alachua County School Board. He helps the students and teachers with their computer issues and has been part of ABA for more than three years. He fished ABA events and other trails.
“I grew up fishing for bream, crappie and catfish,” Montgomery detailed. “Later in life, we bought a house on a lake. One of my high school friends came to my house and asked if he could go fishing on the lake. I said he could. He gave me a watermelon red trick worm and I’ve been hooked ever since. When the old tournament director stepped down, I didn’t want to see the division go away. I started with this division. It’s a great division. My job as TD is to help grow the sport.”
The nine natural lakes of the Harris Chain span about 76,000 acres northwest of Orlando. Anchoring the system, Lake Harris covers 15,500 acres and contains some of the deepest water in the system. Really just a cove off the main lake, Little Lake Harris breaks off from Lake Harris. Lake Harris also connects to Lake Eustis through Lake Harris Dead River, a one-mile-long natural pass. Lake Eustis connects to Lake Dora through the Dora Canal. Haines Creek joins Lake Eustis with Lake Griffin through a long, winding channel partitioned by locks. North of Lake Eustis, Lake Yale covers 4,042 acres, but remains landlocked during periods of low water. At the eastern end of the chain, Lake Dora flows into Lake Beauclair. A cut opens between the southern shoreline of Lake Beauclair and Lake Carlton. Anglers could land a double-digit bucketmouth anywhere in the sprawling system.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Division 27 (2023 Schedule Link)
Down to the Gulf Coast, Joel Davis replaces George Smith as the director for Mississippi Gulf Coast Division 27. As a civil designer with 25 years of experience, he works for a large engineering firm with a local office in Biloxi, Miss. An avid outdoorsman and tournament bass fisherman, Davis currently lives in Saucier, Miss., but came south from his hometown of Boyd, Wis. He’s married with two children. When not fishing or working, he coaches softball and does a lot of volunteer work in the community. The division fishes places like the Back Bay, also called Biloxi Bay, as well as the Jourdan, Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers.
“This is my third year in ABA and I enjoy it,” Davis remarked. “My personal best largemouth is a 7.5-pounder. I caught it in one of the rivers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My personal best smallmouth weighed six pounds and came out of the Yellow River in Wisconsin. Both were caught on a Strike King Red Eye lipless crankbait. Like most anglers, the topwater bite is my favorite. I fish two tournaments a week and would fish more if I had the time! I am ready and willing to promote growth here on the Gulf Coast.”
Texas – Central Division 52
Heading west, Benny Love takes over the Texas – Central Division 52 from Mark Ames. Love retired after serving 21 years in the United States Army. He now lives in Killeen, Texas, and has been an ABA member for more than 23 years.
“I just have a love for fishing and the competition,” he said. “After being an assistant director some years ago, I felt I could make a difference in improving the participation in this division. I plan to hold tournaments on Sundays to help minimize conflicts with other tournament trails.”
New Director for the American Couples Series Presented by Caymas Boats
The ABA American Couples Series, presented by Caymas Boats, events involves a team format with each team comprised of one man and one woman. Although many married couples compete together as teams, some teams consist of boyfriend and girlfriend combinations, a parent with a child or just two friends. Contestants between 14 and 18 years old may participate with a parent’s written permission.
North Carolina Division 4
In the ABA American Couples Series, presented by Caymas Boats, North Carolina Division 4, Richard McKinney replaces Keith Morgan as tournament director. Now living in Lawndale, N.C., McKinney grew up in Asheville, N.C. He works as a superintendent for Hoke Enterprises. He grew up fishing small ponds and rivers near his home and fished with several clubs and various tournament trails over the years. McKinney and his wife (Cassandra Mckinney) fished the American Couples Series for the past three years.
“I have been bass fishing ever since I was a little boy and enjoy the time I get to spend with my wife,” McKinney said. “My all-time dream was to become a professional bass fisherman. This year I also plan on being a boat captain for the local high school team. When the North Carolina division tournament director decided to step down, I didn’t want to lose the American Couples Series simply because that was mine and my wife’s time to spend together. I’d like to get more members to fish the series. I love to spend time with my family. Life is too short and tomorrow is never promised. Live life to the fullest!”
All ABA tournament trails offer weekend anglers high levels of competition with good payouts and chances to advance to higher levels of competitive angling.
With hundreds of tournaments running across the nation, ABA frequently has new leaders step up and run divisions or start new divisions in their area. Becoming a tournament director offers travel, excellent experience, and challenges for people who like to remain connected to the world of competitive bass fishing.
Experienced leaders that would like to apply to start a division in their area should fill out a Director's application. Simply send an email to email@example.com and let us know that you would like to start a division in your area or inquire about openings in your area. There is also a link with more information about starting your own division of the American Fishing Tour or the American Couples Series (CLICK HERE)
American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, T-H Marine, Garmin Electronics, Power Pole, Lucas Oil, RT Outdoors, Sportsman Card, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com, and LurePartsOnline.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments for the weekend angler and, at the same time, offering each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression.
For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Open Series, the American Fishing Tour, the American Couples Series, the annual Military Team Bass Tournament, and the Top 150 Solo Tour, all presented by Caymas Boats, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406
This story was written by ABA staff writer John N. Felsher. To submit articles of interest email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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