News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Ed Purcell, left, of Granville, Mass., and Sam Moody of Athens greet the competition on the first day of the Bassmaster Southern Open at Ingalls Harbor on Thursday.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Ed Purcell, left, of Granville, Mass., and Sam Moody of Athens greet the competition on the first day of the Bassmaster Southern Open at Ingalls Harbor on Thursday.

Lane first-day fishing leader
159 pro anglers catch 707 fish

By Paul Stackhouse · 340-2462

It was obvious that a lot of bass were caught on day one of the Bassmaster Southern Open on Thursday at Ingalls Harbor. Out of 159 professional bass anglers, 121 came to the scales with a five-bass limit.

Florida's Bobby Lane was one of the fishermen who caught a limit of Wheeler Lake bass. Lane hauled in 19 pounds, 15 ounces to take the pro side lead going into Friday's second round.

At stake for the winning pro are $6,000 and a Triton high-performance bass boat powered by a Mercury engine valued at $50,000. Also, the top three Southern Division points leaders receive a bid to the 2008 Bassmaster Classic in February in South Carolina. The top five in points receive an invitation to fish in the BASS Elite Series, the biggest and most prestigious circuit offered.

In the co-angler or non-boater division (fishing from the back of the boat), the winner receives $2,000 and a Triton/Mercury boat package worth $32,000.

On the co-angler side, 62 five-bass limits were weighed in from the 159 non-boaters.

Local angler David Parks of Decatur, fishing in the co-angler division, caught a small limit weighing 5 pounds, 2 ounces to the scales.

Parks, who fishes Wheeler regularly, said weather conditions are a key factor in catching fish.

"The stiff wind we had today was a big factor for myself and I'm sure for a lot of others also," Parks said. "Even with the wind, we (partnered with pro Rich Patterson of Orlando, Fla.) probably caught 30 fish, they just were not the right size that we wanted.

"I won't mind a little wind Friday and even a little bit of rain. I'm not going to melt and a little bit of rain could help the fishing. I just don't want the thunder and lightning and strong winds."

Behind Lane is North Alabama’s Timmy Horton, who weighed in a limit at 16 pounds, 10 ounces for second place. Alabama’s Gerald Swindle is holding onto third with 15 pounds, 2 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 anglers on the pro side are Frank Ippoliti of Maryland (15-1), Ron Klys of Florida (14-13), Alabama’s Russ Lane (14-8), Kenneth Chapman of Tennessee (14-8), John Chaffo of Pennsylvania (14-4), Todd Auten of South Carolina (13-3) and Rogersville’s Jimmy Mason (12-10).

Horton and Swindle are both past BASS Angler of the Year winners.

Horton fished in an FLW event last week on Pickwick Lake and had little if any success on his home lake. Before the Southern Open, Horton admitted he hasn’t fished Wheeler competitively in a couple of years.

“That’s the way it usually goes,” Horton said. “You can’t do anything on your home lake (Muscle Shoals/Pickwick) but get on a lake you haven’t worked in a while and things seem to work out. It was pretty rough out there today and if we get a west wind Friday blowing against the current, it’s going to be tough to navigate. I’m not really sure what my plan will be tomorrow until I see the conditions.”

It should be noted that Horton and Swindle have already made the 2008 Bassmaster Classic and the Elite Series Tour (biggest BASS circuit). For the two, fishing the Southern Open is a tune-up to an Elite Series tournament that will be coming to Wheeler in June 2008.

“I caught about 10 fish today,” Swindle said. “I’m pretty much staying on the main river. When the water is down like this, I found that the better fish are on the main river. I’m throwing a big, square-lip crankbait where everyone else is throwing a little square-lip crankbait. I’m not fishing for many bites where everybody else is fishing for numbers. I am working for the big bites. I had my limit in about 45 minutes working key areas near the main river; then I started culling.

When Horton approached the scales with his bag of fish, it was quite obvious that he is wearing his hair somewhat longer than normal.

“I’m growing it long for the ‘Locks for Love’ campaign,” Horton said. “I’ve got to get it about two more inches longer to donate. They want it to be about 8-10 inches long and right now mine is about six. It’s getting there, though.”

Scott Reed of North Carolina sits in first place in the non-boater division with his day one catch of 12 pounds, 2 ounces. Georgia’s Fred Hood is in second place at 11 pounds, 6 ounces while Massachusetts’ Lee Hannah is third with 10 pounds, 9 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 in the non-boater division are David Eden of Tennessee (10-2), Daren McDermott of Florida (10-0), John Moon of Texas (9-12), Brian Marino of New Jersey (9-5), Gary Johns of Ohio (9-4), Horace Hubbard of Georgia (9-0) and Jim Smith of Georgia (8-11).

A total of 707 bass were weighed in from the pro division with 695 making it to the release boat. The release boat is a special vessel where the fish are placed in a tank containing chemicals to revive the bass and ensure a live release.

On the non-boater side, 536 bass were weighed in, with 527 being released alive.

The total weight of bass from the pro division was 1190 pounds, 3 ounces with 745 pounds, 3 ounces coming from the co-angler catch.

Ron Klys of Florida caught a 5-pound, 13-ounce bass to take big fish honors on the pro side
while Lee Clark of Decatur caught a 4-pound, 13-ounce bass to claim big bass in the non-boater division.

The launch is scheduled to begin at safe light Friday morning at Ingalls Harbor, with the weigh-in slated to begin at 2:45 p.m.

The same times are scheduled for Saturday’s championship round. After Friday’s weigh-in, the field is cut to the top 30 weights/anglers in both divisions.

All 60 anglers will receive checks for their efforts.

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