October 13, 2009 10:43:00 AM
Practice for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Southeast Regional Championship in Columbus started Monday to prepare the anglers for the two-day tournament, which begins Friday.
The blastoff and weigh-in site will be the East Bank Recreation Area. The Southeast Region includes the Southern portions of Alabama and Central portions of Tennessee, as well as the states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
The weigh-in times are set to begin at 3 p.m. each day, and everyone is welcome to come out and watch the results.
The anglers will deal with a river system that isn''t in typical fall conditions. Our area has had a very mild summer and a lot more than the average rainfall for the summer months. Water temperatures also aren''t in the normal range -- in the low 70s.
Local anglers have had to adjust to the normal schedule of finding keeper-sized bass. Last year, I caught quality fish on points on the main river channel. This year, I haven''t been able to find many schools of shad in the deeper areas. The shad migrated to shallower waters earlier this year, and many of the bass have followed the food.
Another obstacle for the anglers will be trying to catch bass near the shad schools without being affected by the white bass that seem to be outproducing anything else in our river system. These fish are very aggressive and tend to get in the way. Even though they are a bass, they are not weighable fish in a bass tournament. Largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass are the only fish allowed to be taken to the scales.
The amount of rain also will provide an obstacle. The rain has muddied the waters, will force anglers to find clearer water in the back-water areas.
Lures can vary by the hour for catching the keeper bass needed to win the tournament. Most of the baitfish are small in size, so the choices should start small and vary larger. I have caught fish on anything from a crankbait, spinnerbait, and frog to a slower moving jig or worm.
As the professionals have said, bring your tackle box.
Boater safety is imperative for all anglers. There are areas of the river system that have dangerous back water routes. Tibbee Creek isn''t an area to blindly run. I know local anglers who have destroyed outboard engines. Another place is just across from the boat ramp. I have witnessed anglers who have arrived for the tournament running across the huge flat getting to the gravel pit area. This is very shallow water with stumps just waiting to tear the lower unit off the outboard.
Follow the advice of the local anglers who know the terrain and take a few extra minutes to go the proper way.
The final outcry is to use a water treatment with your catch. There have been complaints e-mailed to me and phone calls about the previous crappie tournament releasing fish back and the next day there were several dead crappie floating.
I wish all the anglers luck and hope each one has a safe and pleasant tournament.
Kevin Forrester is the Outdoors writer for The Commercial Dispatch. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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