Big storms

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A big front bringing big storms to Birmingham is also expected to bring in big bass on the final day of the 2007 Bassmaster Classic, competitors say.

 A fast-moving front that caused blizzard conditions in the Plains and severe thunderstorms in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri is expected to pass Lay Lake overnight Saturday but end near the 7 a.m. launch. Anglers expect the storms to improve fishing.

 "If it's still storming, I think they'll be chompin' in the morning," said Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., who was in seventh place after Day Two.

 Leader Kevin VanDam also welcomes the storm.

"Bass are more active with low pressure systems," said VanDam, who lead on Day Two with 32 pounds, 15 ounces. "When you have dark days, wind, and things like that, they actually have an advantage over their prey species, like shad, bluegill, crawdads. In low light, they can see better than their prey."

 Widespread straight line winds are forecast, and there is even a possibility of tornadoes. A lake wind advisory is in effect for the Lay Lake area until 6 a.m. CST Sunday, an hour before the launch. The advisory will be reissued on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

 "The weather's one of the biggest factors we face every day. You just have to deal with it," Kennedy said.

 Kennedy has a plan to deal with the wind. His back-up spots are "sheltered from wind and boat waves. The water's already muddy from boat waves, not wind."

 The front, blamed for four deaths in Wisconsin, reached the Alabama state line around 6 p.m. Saturday. The extent of severe weather will be determined by the amount of low-level moisture ahead of the squall line, which was limited Saturday afternoon. However, strong southeast winds could bring in the necessary moisture to boost thunderstorm development.

 So what does Mother Nature have in store when the 25 anglers launch Sunday? A few lingering showers are expected early, with a temperature of 53 degrees at 7 a.m. The Day Three high temperature of 64 will be reached around noon, dropping again to 53 by late afternoon.

 Approximately half an inch of rain is expected overnight, which could affect water levels at Lay Lake Dam and Logan Martin Dam, both already hovering at or near flood stage.

 Although any remaining rainfall should leave the area by 8 a.m. CST, wind is anticipated to remain at a steady 15 to 20 mph, with gusts around 30 mph.

 "It's probably not going to affect me," said Russ Lane, of Prattville, Ala. "I'm gonna go out and see in the morning what the actual weather is doing, instead of going by the report, and make my judgement then."

 Lane is familiar with Lay Lake, and said the fishing should be great.

 "Tomorrow will be the best day of the tournament," Lane said.

 VanDam said he likes his bass with a little wind.

 "Wind is good. It's a small lake, so wind can muddy up certain areas," he said. "I'd rather have it that way than how it was yesterday. All sun and no wind — bad! Well, not bad, but the way I like to fish is with some waves."

 KVD isn't the only one with confidence in his ability to face a little weather.

 "I think VanDam is going to catch big bags of fish," Lane said, with VanDam standing within earshot.

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