MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In most cases, the “local favorite” is easy to pinpoint in B.A.S.S. competitions at the pro level. Typically he’s the angler living in the state hosting the tournament.
On the Alabama River, it’s a different angle at the College B.A.S.S. East Super Regional kicking off Thursday in Montgomery. Here, the choice of defining the favorite is narrowed down to his zip code.
Within an easy drive from the capital city are powerhouse teams from some 22 colleges and universities making up the field of 48 teams. The short list includes Auburn University, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and the University of Alabama, among others. At the top of the list is Auburn University-Montgomery (AUM) and namely, Jacob Nummy. He belongs to the school’s AUM Anglers club calling the river home waters.
Nummy and teammate Corey Pierce are hands-down the local team favorites in what has panned out to be a tough practice leading into the competition.
“The fish are kind of upside down on where to position,” said Nummy, who placed third overall in last year’s East Super Regional held here. “The water has been up and down so much the fish haven’t had a chance to adjust.”
That could be a telling storyline on a river chain of lakes where the bite is contingent on current generated by Alabama Power. The utility company sets the schedule and accordingly determines the fate of tournament strategies on the river.
When water moves, the bass pull tight to cover and make for easy targets. Without current, the fish scatter throughout the water column and become tough to pattern. So far the scatter factor has come into play during practice.
“We’re catching fish shallow and deep,” added Pierce, who lives on the river. “We might have an advantage since there’s not much current.”
Douglas McClung, a member of the defending College B.A.S.S. national championship team from Louisiana State University, agrees.
“It’s really tough, not like last year when there was a lot of current,” he said. “The fish are suspended and that doesn’t play into our strengths.
“We have covered every backwater on this river and we’re going to just go out there and grind it out.”
Up for grabs on the slow-flowing Alabama River is the winner’s trophy, yet even more is at stake.
The ultimate goal is qualifying for the College B.A.S.S. National Championship, July 7-9 in Little Rock, Ark. The top one-half of the teams from the East Super Regional field become eligible to send members from their respective collegiate clubs to the finals.
At the national championship an elimination-style format ultimately will determine one angler who will qualify for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, a historic first in bass fishing competition.
“We’re confident about it but this one could come down to ounces, one lost fish could make the difference,” Nummy said. “It all depends on the current.”