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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2007
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Bama Division gives anglers idea of what big leagues are like

Now that the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League has concluded its 2007 campaign, anglers are gearing up for 2008.

I have been flooded with questions by fishermen asking me if I think it’s worth it for them to fish the entire BFL Bama Division circuit.

Well, there is no way I can give an answer that will suit everyone, but I can say that fishing the complete circuit gives you the confidence to move up to a higher bracket one day — if you do well. Also, fishing the entire circuit gives you an opportunity to make a lot more money, which is usually enough of a reason right there.

Those who ask serious questions receive serious answers. I tell them fishing the entire list of competitions gives them a feel for what it is like for the pros who make their living bass fishing. The only thing missing would be major sponsor endorsements and the practice time they put in.

For amateur or weekend anglers dreaming about bass fishing for a living, participating in a small circuit such as the Bama Division lets them know how tough this job actually is. If they take the Bama Division trail and multiply it about five times, they would know if their day job is worth keeping.

My unofficial guess is that about one in 1,000 bass anglers who try to fish a major circuit make it. But that is only the starting point. Once you make the list, you have to work twice as hard to stay on it. There’s a lot more to it than just bass fishing. After speaking with the anglers over and over, I know they have a tremendous amount of pressure on them to do well.

The following is a list of Bama Division tournaments:

  • Feb. 9: Lake Guntersville, Waterfront Tackle and Grill at Goose Pond, Scottsboro.

  • April 12: Lay Lake, Beeswax Landing, Clanton.

  • May 10: Neely Henry Lake, Coosa Landing, Gadsden.

  • June 14: Logan Martin Lake, Lakeside Park, Pell City.

    If you earn enough points, you will be invited to fish the championship event for the Bama Division. This final tournament is two days long instead of one and it will be Sept. 27-28, 2008, on Wheeler Lake at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur.

    Ingalls Harbor

    As Decatur and Wheeler Lake are making a name for themselves when it comes to bass fishing tournaments, there are several reasons major circuits are bringing their programs to the River City.

    Ingalls Harbor has become a name synonymous with big fishing events. Ingalls has a huge launching area, which the pros brag about. It also has a large docking area. When the big boys weigh in their bass, they don’t have to run and load up their boat so someone else can come in.

    While at the Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham in February, I heard the pros and tournament officials speak about the new harbor at least two or three dozen times. Whenever someone would look at my press badge, I knew what the next couple of questions were going to be ahead of time.

    “Are you from Decatur? Can you tell me what the big new harbor is like? Can you really launch several boats at the same time without having to wait in line for a long time?”

    After answering “yes” to the question about launching several boats at the same time, I was prepared for the response which normally would be something like “get outta here” or “you’re joking.”

    Others reasons the tournaments are flowing into Decatur are the people involved and the fans. Whenever I need information about a big tournament coming to Decatur, I call the Decatur/Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau. They carry a big load when it comes to getting tournament officials to look our way.

    And, as I said, the fans here are second to none. There’s no telling how many e-mails and phone calls I’ve received over the years from the professional bass anglers saying they would like to come back to Decatur and fish. One of their reasons is the Southern hospitality they receive here.

    Bassmasters

    As the Bassmaster Southern Division prepares to bring its huge tournament Oct. 18-20 to Decatur, Wheeler Lake and Ingalls Harbor, the official tournament launch and weigh-in times have been announced.

    Tournament officials say the boats will launch at 6:45 a.m. or safe-light all three competition days and weigh-ins should start at 2:45 p.m. with the first fish weighed at 2:55 p.m.

    This tournament is not the giant Elite Series, but you will see a lot of great and big-name anglers.

    The tournament can expect more than 200 boats and 400 anglers.

    When you multiply the 400 anglers by several family members, it comes to a lot of money spent at motels, restaurants, convenience/gas stations, department stores and bait and tackle shops, just to name a few.

    All in all, the major tournaments coming to Decatur mean big bucks for the our economy.

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  • Paul Stackhouse
    Outdoors
    Paul Stackhouse

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