TENNESSEAN 1 SHY OF LIMIT, STILL TAKES LEAD AT FEDERATION NATION SOUTHERN DIVISIONAL
GALLATIN, Tenn.-Tim Runions said he "left behind" a fifth largemouth that he needed to complete his five-bass limit on Old Hickory Lake, site of the BASS Federation Nation's Southern Divisional underway through Friday.
Even then, it didn't really matter as the 39-year-old Tennessee angler took the overall lead in the tournament with four largemouth weighing 14 pounds, 11 ounces. What is more, Runions made up for the lost fish by anchoring his creel with Wednesday's biggest bass, weighing 5-6.
"I'm not on a lot of fish, but when I do get a bite it's a quality one," said Runions, an environmental specialist for the state of Tennessee.
The pressure came off early for Runions as the big bass was one of his first caught. As well, he's locked in to a pattern and technique that he plans to stick with, assuming his waters hold out on Thursday.
"I'm not covering a lot of water," he added. "Here, you can't do a lot of running around because the fishing is so tough. You've got to keep your line in the water, fish as much as you can."
The surprise of the day was the run on the lead made by Craig Fraser from the Republic of South Africa. Fraser has never fished in the United States, much less on Old Hickory Lake, which is considered one of the state's most pressured bass fisheries due to its proximity to Nashville. His limit weighed 11-7, landing him in the runner-up spot.
"They started pulling water and the current positioned the fish on the main river channel ledges," said the Cape Town native. "I'm catching the fish by pitching jigs at grass edges and wood cover on the edge of the dropoffs."
The Southern Divisional is one of six regional qualifying events that advance top amateurs from Federation Nations around America and abroad to the BASS Federation Nation Championship, amateur angling's only international world championship. That event is set for January 2007 on Alabama's Lake Neely Henry.
Two winners will be named on Friday when the competition wraps up on Old Hickory. First, one angler will take top honors as the tournament winner and second, state bragging rights will be determined among the eight Federation Nations represented here.
Additionally, the top angler from each Federation Nation will advance to the championship next January and possibly, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. State leaders after today include Runions (Tennessee); Fraser (Republic of South Africa); Jeff Hager (North Carolina); Carl Hunter (Georgia); David Porter (Florida); Les Underwood (Kentucky); Clay Morris (Alabama) and Donald Kneece (South Carolina).
Alabama leads the state competition with its 12-angler team accounting for a cumulative weight of 71-10. The Republic of South Africa is second with 64-5, followed by South Carolina's weight of 61-9. North Carolina has 57-14 for fourth place and host state Tennessee rounds out the top five with 56-5.
A total of $93,000 will be distributed among the Federation Nations on Friday, with the monies earmarked for conservation, civic and fishing outreach programs in the respective states.
The Southern Division weigh-ins get underway at 2:30 p.m. Central at Bull Creek Recreation Area in Gallatin.
Sponsors of the Federation Nation include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide and Evan Williams.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.
Source: bassmaster.com (2006-06-08)