Names to know

MANY, LOUISIANA – There are 380 anglers competing in the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors.

Every one of them has a story, something unique that makes them special.

Here are a few that caught my attention on Day 1.

TERRY MCWILLIAMS – McWiliams has been on the competitive bass fishing scene for a long while, with the apex of his career (to date) coming at the 2007 Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake in Alabama.

McWilliams, who hails from Greenfield, Indiana, finished fourth in that Classic with a three-day total of 15 bass that weighed 45 pounds, 3 ounces. The three guys that finished ahead of him that year all have won Classics – Boyd Duckett (the eventual champion), Skeet Reese (who got his piece of the pie in 2009) and some guy named Kevin VanDam who has four Classic titles to his credit.

McWilliams is fishing on the non-boater side of this tournament on Toledo Bend. He finished Day 1 in 97th place of the 180 anglers in the division. He caught a limit of three bass that totaled 4 pounds, 13 ounces.

That may seem like too steep a hill to climb to get past the cut to the top 38, but McWilliams is less than 3 pounds away from 38th place. Catching a limit on Day 1 says he may be on to something. If he can find a couple with some weight to them, that would make a really compelling story.

TOM ALSOP – As soon as I heard the name and saw the hometown of Overland Park, Kansas, I thought “I wonder if he’s related to that kid from Kansas State who won the college championship a couple years ago?”

Turns out he is.

Alsop’s son, Kyle, teamed with Taylor Bivins to lead the Wildcats to a national title on Kentucky’s Green River Lake in the summer of 2016. I caught up with them a few days later on Kentucky Lake where they fished the College Classic Bracket. I remember Kyle had a million-dollar smile and that he’d make a great addition to the pro ranks one day, should he choose that route.

The elder Alsop is doing pretty darn well for himself, too, as he sits in a tie for 45th place in the boater division with a five-bass limit weighing 13-13. That puts him atop the Team Kansas standings currently and gives him a great chance at representing the state on Friday during the final day of competition. It also puts him in the driver’s seat for a spot in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship should his good fortune continue today.

GENE HOOVER – As a Louisiana guy and a fan of youth fishing, I was tickled to see my friend in the boater field here on Toledo Bend.

Hoover, who lives in Gonzales (attention Greg Hackney fans), is the youth director of the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation. That means he’s usually busy helping stage tournaments around the state. But he’s taking his own turn to fish this week. He had a limit of bass on Day 1 Wednesday, but the bag was a relatively light 8-13, which put him in 124th place in the boater division.

Come on, Gene! The kids are rooting for ‘ya!