With just three tournaments to go in the regular season, the Bassmaster Elite Series heads east from Alabama to Georgia for the sixth stop of 2010, the May 20-23 Pride of Georgia on Clarks Hill Reservoir out of Evans.
Clarks Hill is a 71,535-acre fishery, an impoundment 39 miles in length located 22 miles north of Augusta. It forms part of the border between Georgia and South Carolina and is renowned for its topwater fishing.
Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action from the Pride of Georgia on The Bassmasters, which airs Sunday, June 6, at 10:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2. Also, the daily weigh-ins for all regular-season Elite events and the postseason will air live on ESPN3.com.
Bassmaster.com will follow the Pride of Georgia each day with BASSCast, BASSCam, real-time leaderboards during weigh-ins, photo galleries, daily results and Hooked Up, with ESPN Outdoors personalities Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders. Live, streaming video will be carried by ESPN3.com.
After one season away, BASS' top level of competition returns to Clarks Hill Reservoir for the fourth time. The impoundment is a quality fishery with blueback herring and threadfin shad providing a plentiful food base for bass.
In the 2008 Pride of Georgia, held in April, Kenyon Hill of Norman, Okla., scored his third BASS win with a four-day total of 68 pounds, 0 ounces. He held off local favorite Davy Hite, winner of the Elite event on Clarks Hill two years prior. In 2006, Hite, of Ninety Six, S.C., posted his seventh BASS win at Clarks Hill with a four-day total of 71-12.
Hite said that, while it's a big reservoir, Clarks Hill will fish bigger this season because, after severe drought conditions until this spring, a lot of recent rain has brought up the water.
"We've fished three tournaments there about the same time of year; it'll be similar to what we've seen in the past," Hite said. "Blueback herring will be the primary focus. What will be a little different is that the water is up. It will be quite a bit higher and stained more, and there's a lot more cover on the shoreline than there has been."
Hite said the size and quality of the fish should be similar to previous tournaments — probably a 3- to 3 1/2-pound average. He guessed it would take about 17 to 18 pounds per day to win, adding that the fishing will be primarily in the shallows, with a lot of topwater lures and some swimbaits and jigs tossed in.
Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., who won the May 6-9 Southern Challenge at Alabama's Lake Guntersville, has top 10 finishes in the past two Elite events at Clarks Hill — but he said he hasn't had time to scout Clarks Hill this season and will go into the event without a lot of planning.
"I have no idea what to expect," said Reese, who happens to have five straight top five finishes in 2010, including two victories. "It's a tough fishery; I know you don't catch a lot there. You're trying to catch 14 to 15 pounds a day to do really well. It's just the opposite of what we just fished — 100 pounds of fish at Guntersville."
Along with the top prize of $100,000, the Pride of Georgia awards valuable points in the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. With 1,485 points after five events, Reese leads the AOY standings after the Southern Challenge. Trailing him are Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., in second with 1,227 points, and Dave Wolak of Wake Forest, N.C., in third with 1,202 points.
The public is invited to attend the Pride of Georgia's daily launches at 6:10 a.m. ET at Wildwood Park, 6212 Holloway Road, Appling, Ga. After Day 2's competition Friday, the field will be cut to the top 50 anglers for Day 3. Only the top 12 will go on to compete in Day 4. Also free and open to the public, the daily weigh-ins are set for 3:30 p.m. at Wildwood Park.
Local sponsor of the Pride of Georgia: Columbia County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
After the Pride of Georgia, the 2010 regular season will have just two events remaining. Up next is the June 9-12 Tennessee Triumph on Kentucky Lake out of Paris, Tenn.
The top 12 pros in the AOY standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series postseason, in which the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year will be determined.
Toyota Trucks Championship Week is set for July 24-31 and will be played out once again on two productive Alabama fisheries. The first leg, the July 24-25 Trophy Chase, returns to Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka. The finale, the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, is slated for July 30-31 on the Alabama River from Montgomery.
Also, with just three regular-season events remaining, the race is heating up to qualify for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta out of New Orleans. Missourians Denny Brauer of Camdenton and Mark Tucker of St. Louis are on the bubble, in 36th place (974 points) and 37th (967 points), respectively. Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., is just behind them in 38th, with 961 points. BASS qualifies the top 36 anglers in the AOY standings for the Classic, but Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., the 2010 champion, will automatically qualify, thereby allowing the angler in 37th place to make the Classic cut as VanDam is among the top 36 in AOY points, tied for 21st with 1,030.
Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Skeeter and Yamaha.
Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Lowrance and Triton Boats.