• Tom Billings

Breaking down area tournaments: Billings Report

The 2016 fishing season has begun and spring is in the air. With that, for many of us local anglers,

comes the beginning of tournament season. I recently sat down and started looking at all the

tournament series in the region and decided to compare all of them from a return on investment

perspective. Now I will be realistic about this; in truth many of us could never get a return on

investment fishing at this level just because we put way more money into this game then it’s

possible to get back. Investment can be looked at in a different view then just cash. How about

total over all experience? That certainly is a return. How well the event is ran? Where is the

championship at? What are the payback’s at the championships? All these question I believe go

into the total experience and are my considerations in choosing an organization to fish with. So I

selected 4 series that are offered in the region, I believe these are the 4 largest in the region and

the drawing the most boats from the local tournament pool. 2 of these series is a specific lake

series while the other 2 having a roving schedule.

Let’s start with R & B, this series is a roving series and has been drawing a lot of boats. Their

membership is $30 per team, tournament entry is $70 (which includes big bass) and each

tournament is a 100% payback. Their classic fund is funded by the membership dues, entry fee

into the classic is $70. Their classic last year had 41 boats that fished for about 9k in cash and

prizes, 2K for 1st place. I have personally fished in R&B ran tournaments and thought they did

a good job. A quick look at their participation shows about 40-50 boats for each event.

Interesting note for them this year is that they have started two divisions an East and West with

separate schedules. Your membership allows you to fish either or both schedules and there will

be one classic combining both divisions to compete for the cash and prizes. I also think they

have a very well ran web page and their tournament results are up-date quickly and accurately.

From my point of view this is a great series to fish with excellent paybacks.

Click here for R & B info.

Another roving series is Anglers Choice’s “Michiana” division. Anglers Choice has divisions all

over the USA and a couple more divisions in Indiana but your local option is the Michiana

division. Membership fee is $70 per team, tournament entry is $150 (which includes big bass)

each tournament is 87% payback. The Anglers Choice TOC has been held at Lake Guntersville

for the past several years in March. To make their classic you have to finish in the top 40% of the

division you are fishing in. The entry fee to fish in their TOC is free (for those qualified) and you

will be fishing for one of three new Legend boats that are awarded to 1st and 2nd The 3rd boat

is drawn at random and given to the participating team. They also hold a side pot entry at the

classic and if you chose to can participate in that. In addition they offer a “double down” option.

Because of these options you really have 3 different tournaments going on in one. Their

championship has been drawing 250 boats for several years. The cash and prizes equal

$250,000 payout. I have not fished in any of their events but know several people who have

and they all love them. I have been told that their championship is one of the best ran events

that my friends have ever fished. The local division has not been drawing as many boats in

recent years but 2 new directors have taken over this series and are attempting to grow this

to a 20-30 boat event. I find their website to be a little confusing with a lot going on but their

up-dates are quick and the directors have good communication through their division pages.

Click here for Angler's Choice's ``Michiana'' division info.

Next is one of two organizations that offer lake specific series.

USA BASSIN has several local lake series. Their membership fee is $60 per team and you can

fish multiple divisions. Tournament entry is based on the division you are fishing, some are $60

(including BB) and some are $85 (including BB); these are 70% and 80% paybacks respectively.

Out of your entry fee $10 goes back to USA and $5 goes to the director. The USA BASSIN

championship is held each spring at Kentucky Lake and to qualify you have to fish 3 regular

season events and get 150 points. Then each team has to fish a regional event (you can fish as

many regional tournaments as you want). In that event the top 30% is awarded a spot in the

Ranger Comanche Cup. If a team doesn’t finish in the top 30% they are awarded a spot in the

Ranger Aluminum cup. The entry fee for both Championships is $145 (including BB). The payouts

are as follows for the Comanche cup, 1st place is a Ranger Z119 with a 225 (about 60k cash

value), 2nd place is 15k, 3rd place is 10k. Pays down to 20th place. BB awards are the 4 biggest

bass of each day 1k, $600, $400, and $270. For the Ranger Aluminum cup 1st place is a Ranger

RT188 with a 90, 2nd place is 5k, 3rd place is $2500 and pays down to 16th place. The 3 BB of

each day pays $800, $500 and $350 (all from the 2015 championship). Each championship has

been averaging 200-225 boats. In addition they have a mystery big bass award which is

opened before the weigh in if your BB matches that weight you win that prizes. This purse varies

in dollar amount but is anywhere from $2,500-$5,000. Another thing offered during tournament week

is the chance to fish in the TOC which is the AOY from each division. This is a free tournament

and the 1st place is 10k and pays down to 10th place. Their championship is ran very organized

and professionally. The web site is up-dated with results per each director

(so if you are not seeing your results it’s completely on the director). I find their web site easy

to navigate with the exception that it seems to jump or flicker every once in a while but

up-dates are quick and the directors have total control over their pages which gives them

plenty of opportunity to communicate with participates. USA BASSIN has multiple partnerships

that offer discounted products to USA members. There are also many divisions to choose from

not only in Indiana but all over the Midwest. For me this is the best organization to fish for

payback and rewards.

Click here for U.S.A. Bassin info.

Lastly let’s look at Anglers Dream. Their membership fee is $80 per team. Tournament entry is

$135 (including BB). The payback depends on what each director does in regards to the

divisional championship and AOY but out of each entry $13 is withheld for those two mentioned

items. In addition $20 is returned to AD and $10 to the director. If you fish only one event in a

series the payback would be 68%, if you fish all the events in a series (thus being eligible to win

the divisional championship and AOY) the payback would be 78% but not at the ramp for each

event it would still be 68% because the $13 is still being withheld. Their TOC has been held

between Kentucky Lake and Lake St. Clair for the past 4 years. Entry fee is $240 (including BB)

1st is 10K, 2nd $3,500, 3rd $2,500 these numbers are based on 90 paying boats. Their TOC has

been drawing about 80 boats per year (74 in 2014 and 81 in 2015). They have divisions at

several area lakes and some in surrounding states (mostly IL). I find their website to be confusing

and their tournament up-dates extremely slow. Each director has to send their results into

AD then wait for those to be up-dated to their division. I have fished in several of their TOC’s

and find them to be not as well ran as others I have been involved in.

Click here for Angler's Dream info.

Let’s take a quick visual look at the numbers:


R&B $30 $70 100% $2,000.00

AC $70 $150 87% $70,000.00

USA $60 $85 70%-80% $60,000.00

AD $80 $135 68%-78% $10,000.00

So as you can see you have many opportunities to fish tournaments. In addition are all the

club tournaments (which we will break down at a later date) and several organizations that are

just over the Michigan line. I hope all of you have a great season whatever and wherever

you’re fishing!

Tom Billings.

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