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Alabama rig mania hits a fevered pitch

Alabama rig mania hits a fevered pitch
EverStart Championship anglers line up for Alabama Rigs being sold personally by the rig's maker, Andy Poss, at a gas station in Buchanan, Tenn.

BUCHANAN, Tenn. - "They must be giving away iPhones over there," said a local man pumping gas at Dodd's Country Store and gas station on Highway 79 near Paris Landing State park on Wednesday afternoon.

"Either that or Miranda Lambert concert tickets," he added with a chuckle.

Finally curiosity got the best of the jolly man pumping gas.

"What in the heck are they standing in line for over there anyway?" he asked openly.

"Alabama rigs," answered another man pumping gas into his Ranger boat.

"Alabama what?" he retorted.

"Alabama rigs," the angler clarified. "They're fishing lures."

"Well, that beats all I have ever seen," the curious man said, shaking his head. "That many people standing in line for a fishing lure?"

As he cranked his car and pulled away from the pump to continue on his merry way, he rolled down the window and shouted, "Dang, I must be in the wrong business!"

It's official: Alabama-rig mania is now a full-blown fishing phenomenon that must be witnessed to be believed.

Just a mere three days after Paul Elias introduced the outdoor world to the Alabama rig with a commanding win at the Walmart FLW Tour Open on Lake Guntersville, the frenzy for these unique five-way wire harnesses that hold multiple baits is something few have ever witnessed in the fishing industry.

Shortly after the registration meeting for the EverStart Championship on Kentucky Lake Wednesday afternoon, Alabama rig inventor Andy Poss and his wife, Tammy, pulled into Dodd's filling station with a truck full of Alabama rigs and began doling them out three at a time to EverStart anglers eager to get their hands on one.

Within minutes a line formed, based solely on word of mouth at the meeting. First 20, then 60. Before long as many as 120 anglers waited patiently, cash in hand, to be the rightful owners of the fishing apparatus that has swept the bass-fishing world off its feet.The line only gets longer for the A-Rig.

For the last three days of practice at the EverStart Championship, the Alabama rig has been the only subject of conversation in restaurants, motel parking lots and boat ramps. Usual fall topics such as next year's tournament schedules, deer hunting and even Alabama football have taken a backseat to the Alabama rig.

The extent to which pros are going to get their hands on the wiry device that allows them to put five swimbaits on a single rig, thereby emulating a whole school of shad, is mind-boggling.

One contingent from Texas actually took a day off from practice to go on a scavenger hunt for materials such as wire, swivels, tubing and heat shrink in an effort to manufacture their own version of the Alabama rig. They eventually ended up purchasing egg beaters and stripping the thin wire from the kitchen utensils to make the imposter harnesses. Now that's called home cooking.

How Paul Elias' 102-pound, 8-ounce catch on Lake Guntersville last week has manifested into a run on eggbeaters at the Paris, Tenn., Walmart is unfathomable, but that very demand led Andy and Tammy Poss to hire additional help at their shop, keeping it running day and night, to make true Alabama rigs for EverStart anglers.

"We heard that our Alabama rigs were being sold on eBay for as much as $500 apiece," said Tammy Poss. "And we've heard that other people were coming over here to sell the rigs for $60 apiece. We decided that just was not fair to the fishermen. So we've worked around the clock, made about 400 extras and drove over here just to supply the anglers with Alabama rigs at the original price of $25 apiece."

"I'm running on about three hours of sleep," said Andy Poss. "The last four days have been an absolute whirlwind. No words can describe it. We are absolutely overwhelmed, but we felt it was only right to come over here and give these tournament anglers a fair chance to purchase an Alabama rig at a fair price without being fleeced. I'm a tournament angler, too, so I know what it's like to want what the fish are biting."

"Before last week the hit counter on our website was about at 8,000," Tammy said. "By Monday morning it was at 85,000."

The hit counter on www.thealabamarig.com now stands at 131,348.

As Andy and Tammy told tales of their last four frenzied days, both of their cell phones sang continuously. Andy carried a plug-in cell phone charger in his hand with hopes of finding an outlet to get his phone some more juice.

While in line, anglers who had been getting by on just a borrowed Alabama rig or a homemade "egg-beater rig" showed off cell-phone pictures of double bass, two bass at once, caught on the rig during practice.

"I'd like to have those two tomorrow," grinned one angler showing off a pair of chubby largemouths sharing a mouthful of swimbaits on an Alabama rig.
Ranger pro Ramie Colson smiles as he shows off his newly acquired Alabama Rigs.
More big smiles emerged from the business end of the line as anglers marveled at their purchases, clutching the hand-made bundles of wire tighter than kids holding candy apples at the county fair.

While it has already been predicted that the EverStart Series Championship will be won on an Alabama rig, now with some 400 extra rigs hitting the water on Thursday morning, it's almost certain the A-rig is going to chalk up another W this week.

When local pro Dan Morehead was asked if the Alabama rig had revitalized some of his worn-out community holes on Kentucky Lake, his eyes got big.

"Two words: Freaking unbelievable!" Morehead exclaimed.

When the same question was posed to well-known Kentucky Lake pro Terry Bolton, he smiled wryly and said, "Oh there's no question, it's going to work ... but just how well remains to be seen."

So far, the Alabama rig has endured one small set back: Tennessee laws only allow a maximum of three hooks on umbrella-style rigs fished on Tennessee waters.

But anglers like Koby Kreiger, who plans to fish in Tennessee waters today, remained undaunted by the recent news of the restrictions.
Koby Kreiger plans to fish Tennessee waters with three-bait Alabama Rig.
"It doesn't bother me one bit," Kreiger said as he pulled his Alabama rig out with two baits missing. "I think they'll still bite it with just three baits on it."

After a sunny and warm practice period, EverStart anglers will have to endure rainy skies, breeze and much cooler temperatures today as a front passes through the area.

How will that weather impact the Alabama-rig bite? It's not even a question worth pondering; hundreds of Alabama rigs will be splashing down on Kentucky Lake today regardless of the weather as A-rig mania continues to sweep the nation.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Paris Landing State Park located at 16055 Highway 79 N. in Buchanan, Tenn., at 7 each morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's weigh-ins will be held at Walmart located at 1210 Mineral Wells Ave. in Paris, Tenn., starting at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo provides the opportunity for fans to interact with professional anglers, ride Ranger boat simulators, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. There will be a free concert from the John Henry Band on Sunday at 3 p.m. on the FLW stage at Walmart prior to the final weigh-in.

Thursday's conditionsEverStart Championship anglers faced a rainy morning at the day-one takeoff.

Temperature at takeoff: 49 degrees
Expected high temperature: 57 degrees
Water temperature: 70 degrees
Wind: N at 10 to 20 mph
Day's outlook: rainy, cloudy and cool

Tags: rob-newell  morning-story  2011-10-27-kentucky-lake-paris-landing 

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