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THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2007
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February turns bass tourney into real Classic
Demopolis pro breaks jinx by winning in state

BIRMINGHAM — The 2007 edition of the Bassmasters Classic on Lay Lake last weekend has come and gone.

A major change has been made by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society as its top championship tournament, now in its 37th year, is in February, whereas past years found late July and August as Classic months. Anglers fished regular tournaments in 2006 to try to earn enough points to reach the championship event.

So, instead of having the event end a season, it now crowns a 2007 champion in February and that marks the beginning of a new season.

The rest of this year will find anglers battling it out as they try to accumulate enough points to make the 2008 Classic. The location and times of that championship tournament have not been made official.

Recapping last week’s Classic finds Alabama pro Boyd Duckett claiming first place in the three-day competition.

The Demopolis angler pocketed $502,000 in cash and prizes for his efforts.

The top prize was $500,000, but Duckett received an extra $1,000 Friday and $1,000 again Sunday for bringing in the big bass of the day. Friday’s catch of a big largemouth bass weighing in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces.

Sunday’s largemouth bass was 6 pounds, 9 ounces. Saturday’s big bass was caught by Michigan pro Kevin VanDam, which weighed 5 pounds, 7
ounces.

In the history of the Classic, no angler fishing in his home state has ever won what many pros call the World Series of bass fishing.

Friday, the first day of the tournament, was probably the best day the fishermen had as far as catching keepers.

The pros can bring in a limit of five bass each day where all fish must meet the 12-inch length limit. Largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass are the three black bass species that are eligible to be weighed in.

Another Alabama pro, Randy Howell of Springville, had a super Friday on the lake. Howell weighed in a limit bag weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces. Duckett, with the help of his 8 pound, 2 ounce largemouth bass kicker, found himself in first place over Howell with a weight of 19 pounds, 14 ounces.

California pro Skeet Reese, who happened to be fishing across the creek from Howell near the Logan Martin Dam, was in third place on the opening day with a limit of bass weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces. Rounding out the top five found Alabama’s Timmy Horton of Muscle Shoals in fourth place with a limit of bass weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces with Florida’s Terry Scroggins holding on to fifth with 17 pounds even.

On Saturday, with the help of cloudy skies and a brisk wind, KVD starting throwing a crankbait outside of grass beds and caught a sack of bass weighing in at 19 pounds, 14 ounces. His two-day catch of 32 pounds, 15 ounces placed him on top of the leader board going into the final day.

Also Saturday, Alabama pro Gerald Swindle was disqualified for what was called aggressive driving.

Swindle apparently drove too fast and too close to Howell, an ESPN camera boat and several spectator boats near Logan Martin Dam.

He later apologized to his fans.

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Paul Stackhouse
Outdoors
Paul Stackhouse
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