The Bassmaster Elite Series will bring its fourth tournament of the season - the Pride of Georgia - to Columbia County's Wildwood Park April 19-22.
This year, the field of pros includes 108 anglers, each of whom will be accompanied by a co-angler, said BASS publicist Doug Grassian.
This will be the third consecutive year that BASS' top level of competition will visit Thurmond Lake, which has a high quality bass fishery fueled by dense populations of blueback herring and threadfin shad.
Last May, Davy Hite of Ninety Six, S.C., posted his seventh BASS win with a four-day total of 71 pounds, 12 ounces.
This year, with a First Place payout of $100,000, the competition likely will be fierce, and the weigh-ins likely will produce some very large fish.
"The fishing should be excellent," said Jason Williamson, an Elite Series rookie from Aiken, S.C., who grew up fishing Thurmond Lake. "This is one of the best times of the year to fish the lake and you're going to see some big limits."
Williamson predicted it will take a four-day total of 85 pounds or more to win this year's event. "You're going to really have to catch them to cash a check," he said.
Georgia anglers scheduled to fish this year include Jim Murray of Arabi and Eric Nethery of Acworth.
South Carolina will be represented by last year's winner, Hite of Ninety Six, Casey Ashley of Donalds, Jason Quinn of Lake Wylie, Marty Robinson of Sedgwick and Jason Williamson of Aiken.
Beda Johnson, the executive director of the Columbia County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said a new activity for this year's tournament is Angler Alley - an up-close opportunity for fans to get signatures and take photos of their favorite pro.
Angler Alley will take place from 4-5:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at the front entrance of Patriots Park off Columbia Road.
Here are some other highlights:
- For fans attending the Outdoor Expo on Saturday and Sunday, which will begin at noon each day, Toyota will be on-site with Casting Challenge competition. Mercury will be on hand with its Big Catch Giveaway Sweepstakes, which will provide spectators with an opportunity to win a 2007 boat and motor or a pickup truck.
- A few lucky fans will be entered into the Purolator Big Bass Fan Giveaway and could be paired with a competing Elite angler on the final day, with a chance to win $1,000 if their angler wins the biggest bass of the day.
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