By Paul Huggins
Nearly 400 anglers from seven states are scheduled to begin a three-day tournament today on Wheeler Lake as part of the BASS Federation Nation’s Southern Team Shootout.
The event features 66 six-person teams from fishing clubs in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Kentucky. Teams will start each morning at 6:30 from Ingalls Harbor. Weigh-ins, also held at Ingalls, will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Charles Graybeal, president of the Tennessee BASS Federation, chose Wheeler Lake for the event based on personal experience that all competitors will catch a lot of fish.
“It’s a great fishing lake. I love Wheeler,” he said. “I wish we had more lakes like this.”
The BASS Federation Nation tournament circuit is not a professional series that focuses on an individual winner. It is strictly a team competition with a foundation in local fishing clubs.
“This tournament is all about fishing with your partner and having a good time,” Graybeal said.
Each team pays a $600 entry fee, and all entry fees go directly back to participants as prize money.
The 66 teams will share in $237,000. The team with the heaviest fish weight from three days will win $2,400. One out of every five teams will win some type of cash prize.
Teams began arriving Saturday for pre-tournament practice, and all were in town Monday for tournament meetings. The Jameson Inn and Holiday Inn & Suites are host hotels for the Southern Team Shootout. The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau will report the economic impact of the event after counting hotel rooms filled after the tourney ends.