American to visit site of 2004 Classic

CELEBRATION, Fla. — It was nearly two years ago that Lake Wylie garnered bass fishing's spotlight when it hosted the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.

 So it is fitting that the 13,443-acre reservoir located in the shadow of the big city of Charlotte will host the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts, July 27-30, the second of three Bassmaster Majors in the 2006-ground-breaking, no-entry-fee tournaments boasting a $250,000 top prize and a $601,000 total prize purse.

 The tournament will honor the late Bryan Kerchal, the 1994 Classic champion and only BASS Federation Nation angler to win bass fishing's biggest event. In a unique format, Majors anglers will fish the first two days on the southern and northern ends of Lake Wylie with the top-12 anglers moving on to rotate through a six-hole course in the mid-section of Wylie.On the final day, the top-six anglers will fish the same six-hole course with the action prominently featured on ESPN2's same-day coverage on Sunday, July 30, at 7 p.m.At 102 years old, Lake Wylie is owned and operated by the Duke Power Company. Wylie is part of the Catawba River and straddles the Carolinas border.

 Jason Quinn, who qualified for the Major via his combined Angler of the Year standings, is a former guide on Wylie. The South Carolina pro believes the current summertime conditions will make fishing "really tough" the first two days of the event.We have both rivers we can fish — the Catawba and the South Fork — which are going to have a little bit of current and a little bit of water color," Quinn said. "Most of the guys are going to be in there fishing, and they're going to do OK."But close to 60 percent of the fishable water is located in the six-hole course and that limits where you can go over the first two days."

 Quinn believes the most successful anglers early in the tournament will flip shallow wood in the off-colored water in the rivers.Veteran North Carolina pro Guy Eaker, who knows Lake Wylie as well as anyone, is more optimistic than his younger counterpart."I think the fishing will be decent, I really do," said the 66-year-old, who lives in nearby Cherryville. "This time of year the fish will be deep and they will be stacked up in certain spots where you can really catch them if you know how to fish deep. They will be schooled up on the drops a lot."

 Eaker added that the most productive patterns will involve Carolina-rigging, deep cranking and an early-morning topwater bite.Quinn predicts that the winning weight will be around 48 pounds, with the majority of that coming from the six-hole course. Eaker estimates the winning weight at 55 pounds. "Wylie has a lot of decent fish in it," he added. "It has always produced some quality fish."Additionally, BASS is hosting a Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats event on nearby Lake Norman July 27-29. The top-six women will weigh-in on the Bassmaster American stage at Cricket Arena prior to the Major anglers on Saturday, July 29, where the winner of that event will be determined.

 Daily tournament launches for the Majors will take place at Copperhead Island at 6:50 a.m. Daily weigh-ins will begin at 3 p.m. at the Cricket Arena.Like the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the Majors also include an ESPN Outdoors Expo, which will be held at The Charlotte Merchandise Mart Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

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