Local anglers are practicing their casts in hopes of reeling in the $7,500 first prize in the 22nd annual Open Team Bass Tournament that has raised more than $200,000 for its primary beneficiary, Easter Seals.
Competitors weighed in at the 2003 Easter Seals tournament, to be held this year at Wildwood Park's
new tournament boat ramp facility.
Typically, participation ranges from 150 to 200 two-person teams, but sponsors hope this year's event - at the new tournament facility at Columbia County's Wildwood Park - will be the largest ever.
"The event itself has quite a history," said Easter Seals Development Director Laurie Cook. "The fishing clubs raise the prize money not only to guarantee the winnings, but also to insure that Easter Seals and the people with disabilities we serve benefit from the event year after year."
This year's tournament will be held May 8, with sponsors including Century 21/Larry Miller Realty and Budweiser. The tournament is hosted and managed by the Clarks Hill Committee. The entry fee is $60 per two-man team for Clark Hill Committee members and $100 for others.
Cook said average annual proceeds from the tournament have been about $10,000.
"Multiply that by 22 years, and you can see what a tremendous help fishing has been to Easter Seals," she said.
Tournament guidelines are very strict. Winning anglers must agree to a polygraph test to receive their prize money. Emphasis is placed on good sportsmanship, and fish are released after weigh-in,
First prize award is $7,500, with other prizes of $2,750, $1,750, $1,250 and $1,000. Big Fish Pot is optional at $5 per team. A boat flight drawing and early registration will be held Thursday, May 6, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Augusta Marine Superstore, 1547 Gordon Highway.
Late registration will be held at 5 a.m. May 8, with blast off from Wildwood Park at 6:30 a.m. Call (706) 667-9695 for details and applications.
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