By Greg McCain

For Coby Carden, the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation (ABN) qualifier at Lay Lake was just another routine day on the water.

For Lee Hanvey, the occasion represented almost 30 years of sustained effort.

Lay boater winner Coby Carden


Lay co-angler winner Lee Hanvey

Click here to see all the tournament photos.

Carden, who claimed the first two ABN qualifiers of the year at Eufaula and at Guntersville, continued his dominating season with yet another win, topping a field of over 50 boaters Saturday (June 16) with a catch of 18.87.

Hanvey, meanwhile, won his first-ever ABN title with an impressive performance on the co-angler side. His three-fish limit weighed 12.26.

Lay big fish Chad Miller

Lay boater second place Chris Rutland

On the boater side, Chris Rutland (Wiregrass Bassmasters), Carden’s frequent team partner on the Coosa, finished second with 17.65, and Justin Barnes (University of Montevallo) was third with 16.90.

Lay co-angler second place Aaron CherryAmong the other winners, Chad Miller (Rumbling Waters Bass Anglers) earned the Academy Sports+Outdoors Big Fish prize with a 5.88 largemouth. Carden also took home more money as the top finisher among Fishin’ 4 A Cure (F4AC) competitors. F4AC raises money to combat childhood cancer and is sponsored by Airport Marine and Office Partners.

Other winners included Chad Miller (Rumbling Waters Bass Anglers), who earned the Academy Sports+Outdoors Big Fish prize with a 5.88 largemouth, and Hanvey and Alan Yarborough (Coosa River Anglers), who combined to win the Total Boat Weight Category with a combined 26.99. Carden also took the top prize among Fishin’ 4 A Cure competitors.

View GalleryKnown for his skills up and down the Coosa chain, Carden (LA PO Boys) caught fish in a variety of ways on Lay. The former Bassmaster Classic qualifier said he burned plenty of gas in boxing his limit.

“I fished from Waxahatchee down toward the dam to Yellow Leaf up above the steam plant,” Carden said.

Carden added that he caught three fish on a popping frog around grass three to four feet deep and finished out his limit on a Big Bite Bait Kriet Tail worm and a jig. His biggest fish weighed in the 4 ½-lb. range.

“I’ve never won three B.A.S.S. Nation tournaments in a row before,” said Carden. “I’ve won three in a year but never three in a row.”

On the co-angler side, Hanvey (Lee County Bass Club) said he has fished ABN events since 1992 but never came close to a win.

“I’ve been working for this for (almost) 30 years,” he said, “and never won one. I fished with a great partner, Alan Yarborough, in his new Nitro that he’s been winning money out of left and right. It was just luck of the draw that I fished with Alan, and it worked out well.”

Hanvey caught two of his fish on a swimming frog and added the third on a walking bait. His limit was topped by two fish that weighed almost five pounds each. Hanvey and Yarborough fished downriver from Beeswax.

“I didn’t even know that the lake went down that far,” Hanvey said. “I’ve never been down there (toward the dam).”

On the boater side, Miller (16.28) finished fourth and was followed in the standings by Yarborough (14.73), Lee Byrd (Birmingham Bass Club, 14.67), J.T. Russell (Briarwood Christian Bass Team, 14.54), Greg Mims (Neely Henry Bassmasters, 14.52), Rick Nishio (Gadsden Bassmasters, 14.10), and Curtis Coleman (Pro Line Bassmasters, 13.41).

Other co-anglers in the top 10 after Hanvey, Cherry, and Clark were Kyron Jones (Birmingham Bass Club, 8.17), Lisa Cox (New Line Bass Club, 7.91), Jared Turnbloom (Brianwood Christian Bass Team, 7.40), Steve Miles (Wiregrass Bassmasters, 7.19), Jeff Russell (Wiregrass Bassmasters, 7.03), Richard Hinds (Gadsden Bassmasters, 7.00), and Brooke Galbraith (Winfield Bassmasters, 6.86).

In the Team Trail competition, Miller and Francis Beard (Neely Henry Bassmasters) topped the anglers registered together and combined to win a spot in the team championship division of the state tournament, which will be held in October on Lake Eufaula. Miller and Beard combined for a 22.95 total.

The teams that qualify for the state championship will compete for the chance to advance to the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship in late fall. A single angler will emerge from the Team Championship as a qualifier for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic.

Sponsors who support ABN events include Academy, Airport Marina, Office Partners, Triton Boats, Mercury, Motor Guide, Lowrance, NetBait, Shell, Hammer Rods, Daiwa, Shelby County, StrikeZone Lure Co., Transducer Shield and Saver, and Charlie’s BBQ.

The next ABN tournament takes place in July on Pickwick Lake out of McFarland Park in Florence. The Pickwick tournament was originally set for April but postponed due to stormy weather. The ABN state championship, open to qualifying individuals and teams, is set for Oct. 19-20 on Eufaula.

“I don’t know if I will fish Pickwick or not,” said Carden, who is already a state team qualifier due to his three consecutive wins. “It depends on whether I get any practice time or not.”

Greg McCain is a freelance writer with current credits in Alabama Outdoor News, Great Days Outdoors, Alabama Game & Fish, and CrappieNOW online magazine in addition to producing content and photos for this website. He is a member of the Belgreen Bass Club, an ABN chapter near Russellville.