Alabama’s Wheeler Lake Welcomes Back ‘Kevin Who?’ and Bassmaster Elite Series Trail for Dixie Duel

Category: press release

 Mar 23rd, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Mar 23rd, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Is Mother Nature setting up BASS fans for another nail-biter, like the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series event on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake, in which upstart Jeremy Starks of Charleston, W.Va., defeated bass fishing’s best, four-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam?

Wheeler Lake will keep Bassmaster Elite Series pros guessing right up to the start of the April 2-5 Evan Williams Bourbon Dixie Duel out of Decatur, Ala., as the lake typically doesn’t fill up until mid-April. Elite Series pro Timmy Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., said that water levels could dictate what the fish are doing when the Elite Series hits the northern Alabama fishery.

Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action from the Dixie Duel on The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday, April 11, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2. The daily weigh-ins for all regular-season Elite events and the two postseason events will be live on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports network, while a wealth of unique content will also be available at Bassmaster.com.

With 1,063 miles of shoreline, Wheeler is the largest of three Alabama lakes that connect with the Tennessee River. It has been the host of 10 BASS events, including the 1974 Bassmaster Classic and also will feature the second Bassmaster Southern Open of 2009, set for April 30-May 2.

With a four-day total of 78 pounds, 10 ounces, at the Southern Challenge in 2008 on Wheeler, Starks beat VanDam, of Kalamazoo, Mich., by 8 ounces. Fishing an old submerged creek that fed a main channel with subtle bends, Starks used a 10-inch Berkley power worm in a plum color. He managed his fish carefully throughout the tournament, throwing just 25 casts to his best spot before Day Four.

“You couldn’t script it any better than this,” Starks said after claiming the trophy. His teasing remark of “Kevin Who?” during the tournament has since become rather famous. “If you’re going to beat somebody, it can’t get any better than beating the best in the world.”

Horton predicts that the Elite pros will find some good-sized bass at Wheeler, where pros tend to be able to cover more water more quickly and tend to fish shallow with everything from crankbaits to spinnerbaits to jigs this time of year.

“We’ll see a lot of pre-spawn and sight fishing,” Horton said. “I’m guessing it’ll take 16 a day to make the top 12. Maybe 20 pounds a day to win it.”

The Dixie Duel includes a top prize of $100,000 and awards valuable points in the 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title race. Jason Williamson of Aiken, S.C., took the lead in the AOY standings to start the season, winning the first tournament, the OPTIMA Batteries Battle on the Border on Texas’ Lake Amistad. Trailing him are 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, in second, and Jared Lintner of Arroyo Grande, Calif., in third.

Chad Griffin, of Cresson, Texas, leads the 2009 Rookie of the Year standings after finishing highest among the nine first-year Elite Series pros at Lake Amistad. Griffin finished 59th among 100 anglers.

Fans are encouraged to attend the Dixie Duel’s daily launches (7:15 a.m. CT) and weigh-ins (4 p.m.) Thursday through Sunday at Ingalls Harbor, 701 Market Street NW, Decatur. Before Day Three competition Saturday, the field will be cut to the top 50 anglers. Only the top 12 will go on to compete in Sunday’s final day.

Sunday’s activities include the live taping of Hooked Up, hosted by ESPN Outdoors personalities Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders. The show, which will air live at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN360.com, will preview Sunday’s final weigh-in.

Other activities Saturday and Sunday at the Dixie Duel will begin at 1 p.m. CT at Ingalls Harbor, featuring the popular Dog Training & Retriever Demonstrations Brought To You By Sport Dog. The fun also includes Skeeter boat demos; a rock-climbing wall presented by the U.S. Army; Jubilee Hot Air Balloon rides; an American Red Cross blood drive; the Just Add Kidz moonwalk, obstacle course and super slide; a BTK Motorsports booth with go-kart demonstrations; and the Sci Quest Hands-on Science Center for kids.

At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, fans are invited to experience Bassmaster University, which includes the “Ask the Experts” session with the Elite pros at 3 p.m.

All events at the Evan Williams Bourbon Dixie Duel are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com. Visit ESPNMediaZone.com for ESPN’s latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video, audio clips and more.

Local sponsor of the Dixie Duel is the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine; Bass Pro Shops, Costa Del Mar, Lowrance, Ramada, SpongeTech and Triton Boats.

About BASS

For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in ESPN360.com, ESPN’s sports broadband network, Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.


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