April 29, 2010 8:50:00 AM
Mickey Aldridge might only have time to be considered a "weekend fisherman," but that doesn''t mean he and his peers won''t be competitive this weekend.
Aldridge and the rest of the Starkville Bass Club will join fishermen from Columbus, West Point, Aberdeen, Monroe County, and the rest of the state at the Mississippi TBF State Championship Bass Tournament.
"The Starkville team is fairly competitive," said Aldridge about his team, which came in second last year by one pound. There also will be teams from Columbus and West Point, and all of these teams have really strong fishermen. Traditionally, Starkville has done fairly well, and we have won it in the past. We just want to get out there and do our best."
Last year, the Great Southern Bass Masters had a weight of 50.4 pounds (34 fish) on day one and a weight of 42.42 pounds (27) on day two for a total of 92.82. Starkville took second with 60 total fish and a weight of 91.74.
Practice for the event started Wednesday and will continue today. The competition begins at safe light Friday and will continue Saturday.
Aldridge, the president of the Starkville Bass Club, whose club is the host club, said 90 boats and 180 fishermen have qualified for the event. Participants will go out in three flights, and weigh-ins will begin at 3 p.m. Friday at the Columbus East Bank ramp. The competitors will arrive back at the East Bank ramp in 15-minute intervals to weigh in their fish in the catch-and-release event.
On Saturday, the weigh-in will begin at 2 p.m.
Rules allow each fisherman to weigh in up to five bass each day. Aberdeen, Aliceville, and Columbus lakes have been "off limits" for the past two weeks and opened up for two days of practice.
Anglers will face a new challenge this year. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks implemented a 14-inch minimum length on all bass caught on the Columbus and Aberdeen lakes. This regulation was implemented on these lakes April 22 and will be in place for all fishermen until further notice.
The event is free and open to the public.
The top six anglers (boaters) and top six co-anglers (or non-boaters) will qualify to represent the state of Mississippi at next year''s regional site, which is yet to be determined. Team weights also will be calculated to decide a team champion.
The top 12 from there will go on to the national tournament.
Aldridge said the event, which is under the umbrella of FLW, is for anglers who qualified last year. He said he and the rest of the competitors are "guys who love to get out and fish," and the event gives them another way to reach a higher level of competition.
Mike Wilson (21.32 pounds) and Bill Kellum (15.2) led the Starkville Bass Club last year with 10 fish each. Aldridge caught five for a total of 8.32 pounds.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.