News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Autographs, fun and free admission at Alabama Open

Ingalls Harbor, built recently by Decatur, is hosting yet another big-name bass fishing tournament this year.

The Bassmaster Southern Open series has chosen Decatur and Wheeler Lake to host the Bassmaster Alabama Open on Oct. 18-20. This is the final event of the Southern series for BASS, and you can bet that a lot of anglers are going to be extra serious about catching quality fish. After all, a few of the top-ranked tournament circuit fishermen could get a shot at an invitation into the Bassmaster Classic, known as the World Series of bass fishing. To do that, though, they need to have enough points gathered from all Southern tournaments to place first, second or third.

With all that in mind, you can expect to see plenty of brightly colored high-performance bass boats rolling into Decatur soon. The official practice days are Oct. 15-17, but I expect to see many of the participants take to the waters of Wheeler Lake much earlier than that.

Area motels and restaurants should begin filling up any time now, as more than 400 anglers, many traveling with their families, are expected to participate. To let you know how popular this is, the tournament field is full, and a waiting list already has started.

Free admission

The public is invited to watch the weigh-ins close up. Thatís where the real excitement begins for those not fishing in the tournament. The weigh-ins are set for 1:55 p.m. each day Oct. 18-20. The Bassmaster officials expect the weigh-ins to finish around 4:30 Thursday and Friday, while Saturdayís championship weigh-in is scheduled to end somewhere around 3-3:30 p.m.

Anglers are expected to blast off from Ingalls Harbor each morning around safe light.

For those people wishing to get autographs, the best place is at the motels where anglers are staying. When they are working on their boats or other equipment, most of the pros donít mind giving autographs and having their picture taken.

Of course, you can always try to get an autograph at Ingalls Harbor, but most seekers will find this somewhat difficult.

Notes of interest

  • The official housing headquarters for the tournament is the Decatur Holiday Inn.

  • Pre-tournament registration is set for Oct. 17 from 3-5 p.m., and the tournament briefing will take place at 6 p.m. Both events will take place at the Holiday Inn. Following the briefing, the pros and their amateur partners will talk for about 10 to 15 minutes before deciding to leave. When that short meeting is over, it is another great time to get autographs and take pictures.

  • The tournament waters are described as Wheeler Lake and all rivers, creeks and canals connecting to Wheeler Lake. You cannot lock through any locks at the dams.

    Not being able to lock through is a big issue for all participants, as nobody will be able to lock through to Lake Guntersville, where big, kicker largemouth bass are busting baits around floating grass beds early in the morning.

    This regulation makes the tournament even more interesting, as the pros have to establish a game plan based on Wheeler Lake only, which can be quite difficult. One of the reasons Wheeler can be so difficult is the lake is full of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.

    Each has its own feeding techniques and each differs from the others. These are the only species of fish that can be weighed in at the end of the tournament day.

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  • Paul Stackhouse
    Paul Stackhouse

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