UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Water’s up, weather threatens on Nickajack

Alex Orme of Maplewood, Minnesota and co-angler Eddie Wolfe of Missouri work the shallows on Day 2 of the TBF Championship.

KIMBALL CITY, Tenn. - The 94 anglers competing in The Bass Federation Championship on Nickajack Lake were greeted by an unexpected sight as they backed their boats into the water Friday morning on the tournament's second day. Water lapped at the edges of the docks at the Shellmound boat ramp and covered the walkway leading out to the dock where TBF directors ran the takeoff. The lake not only came up, it was at least a foot higher than the previous morning. While that may kill any notion of sight-fishing for bedded bass, the general consensus is that it will actually help.

In fact, many anglers didn't even notice. Tournament leader Kenny Beale Jr. shrugged when asked about the change in the water level. He's on a shallow bite, but the areas he's fishing and the techniques he is using should play well with the higher water. Other anglers took the change in stride as well.

"The fish should move up. If anything, it should help the shallow bite," said Missouri boater Bobby Carleton, who sits in third place in the Central Division after the first day.

What won't help, however, is the ominous weather forecast looming in the background. What was supposed to be a late-arriving front appears to be bearing down on the anglers much earlier. Indeed, as the last boats left the dock at 6 a.m., the first hint of a change swirled in with a cool breeze that rippled the previously calm water. Less than an hour into the day, the distant rumble of thunder rolled up the Tennessee River channel and echoed off the surrounding mountains. Things are expected to worsen as the morning progresses, starting with sporadic showers and a southeast wind that will eventually kick up to 18 mph by 2 p.m. The chance of thunderstorms increases dramatically by noon, and the region is under a severe weather warning for later in the afternoon. Fortunately, the worst of it isn't expected until after the weigh-in, which will take place at Kimball Park in Kimball City, Tenn., starting at 3 p.m.

Weather or not, today's weigh-in should be a nail-biter. Anglers aren't competing against the entire field today. Instead, they are fishing for the top slot in their respective division. Only one boater and co-angler from each of the TBF's divisions will advance to the final day and the chance to win amateur bass fishing's biggest and most thrilling prize, the Living The Dream package, valued at more than $100,000. The package includes paid entry into the Walmart FLW Tour, the use of a wrapped Chevy tow vehicle and Ranger boat, sponsor merchandise and expense money. The winning boater and co-angler also earn a slot in the coveted 2011 Forrest Wood Cup and the chance to fish against the best professional bass anglers in the world.

Second-place boater Ed Loughran of the Mid-Atlantic Division is confident of his chances of moving up on Day 2 of the TBF Championship. Beale's 20-pound, 7-ounce sack yesterday was 2 1/2 pounds more than fellow Mid-Atlantic Division angler Ed Loughran, who is not only second in the division but second overall. Loughran is confident his spots will hold up, and he understands he's well within reach of the lead.

"If one of Kenny's 5-pounders was a 3-pounder yesterday, I would have been right there with him," he said.

Other divisions to watch include the Southwest, where Arizona angler Larry Hardy holds a 13-ounce lead over Joe Raftery of Nevada. Robbie Robinson is just 1 pound ahead of fellow Southern Division angler Greg Hoskinson. The tightest race is in the Northern Division, where Dean Hill of Ohio holds a narrow 6-ounce lead over Andy Wegner of Illinois.

A few co-angler battles are heating up as well, particularly in the Eastern Division, where New Yorker Casey Casamento leads Jason Bacon of Massachusetts by just 10 ounces. Co-anglers, however, fish with a new boater each day, so their success often hinges on their partners' decisions. Seven, however, will advance to fish Saturday and participate in the final weigh-in, which will be held at 3 p.m. in conjunction with the Walmart FLW Tour Major weigh-in at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The FLW Tour pros are fishing Chickamauga Lake, one pool above Nickajack.

TBF fishing fans take note

Want to watch the weigh-in live but can't make it in person? Then tune in to FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 3 p.m. Central Time to watch live streaming video and audio of the TBF weigh-in Thursday and Friday. Saturday's final TBF National Championship weigh-in will also be broadcast on FLW Live beginning at 4 p.m. Central Time.

Tags: david-hart  morning-story  2011-04-14-national-championship-nickajack 

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