DECATUR, Ala. — Presidents of the chapters in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Division hosted the first Southern Challenge BFN Team Shootout Tournament, Sept. 29 to Oct. 21, 2010, at Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala.
The six-man team tournament is a spinoff of the Bass Club World Championship, which B.A.S.S. discontinued in 2008. Teams came from Federation Nation clubs in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama.
The Twin States Bassmasters team from Tennessee won the inaugural event, with a total team weight of 71.34 pounds for three days. Charles Graybeal Jr. (Tennessee chapter president) and his partner Rick Morrison led the Twin States team with a three-day catch of 32.51. Other team members contributing to the victory were Danny Lea and Charles Barnett with 30.92 pounds, and John Dedecker and Charles Graybeal Sr. with 7.86 pounds. Graybeal and Morrison ran up to Guntersville Dam all three days and flipped plastic craws to the trees.
The Bassmasters of North Alabama finished second with 68.76 pounds. Leading the Alabama team with 28.25 pounds were Jason Borden and Steve Lowery. Eddie Borden and Chris LouAllen added 20.38 pounds to the team's total, while Michael Moore and Peter Carulo chipped in with 20.13 pounds. Borden and Lowery also made the run to Guntersville Dam each day and fished cuts on the way back downriver.
The other Top 5 teams were the Coosa River Anglers with 62.76 pounds; Jacksonville Bassmasters, 59.90, and Bassmasters of Cleveland, 59.81. Eddie Hatmaker and John Talton of the Bassmasters of Cleveland finished with the top individual team weight of 34.37 pounds, followed by Graybeal and Morrison of the Twin States Bass Club with 32.51.
"Fishing was good for the first couple of days," said Don Gowen, secretary/treasurer of the Bassmasters of North Alabama. "The wind cooperated until the final day of the tournament when there were some 3- to 4-foot white caps on the lake."
The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted the event and invited the Bassmasters of North Alabama to assist with the tournament. "We furnished help for the weigh-in and the morning take-offs and we put a six-man team into the tournament," said Gowen, who estimated that 20 club members were involved in the event. "If they weren't fishing, they were working."
Charles Graybeal Jr. said he considered the tournament a success. "I think it went great," he said. "The weigh-ins went smoothly. The guys were all happy and looking forward to the next one. Now that some have seen that we got it done the first time, we will get more interest in the next one."
Graybeal said the presidents are hoping to have the next shootout in early October 2011.