Fog delays second round of Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Dense fog and low visibility brought things to a standstill Thursday for the 394 anglers who were hoping to compete in the second round of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship on Lake Guntersville.

Jon Stewart, tournament director for the Team Championship, postponed Thursday’s round when the teams were still sitting at the launch site at 10:30 a.m. waiting out a fog delay more than four hours after the scheduled takeoff time.

B.A.S.S. rules call for competition days to be postponed if the anglers can’t fish at least four hours of a scheduled eight-hour day. Thursday’s weigh-in was scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

“I knew that if it was foggy, it was going to be bad,” Stewart said after announcing the postponement. “It was foggy when we were setting up on Tuesday, and it didn’t lift until after 10:30. I told the anglers at the briefing Tuesday that if it got foggy at all, it would probably be tough.”

The schedule will now be adjusted as such:

Weather permitting, the tournament will resume Friday with a full field of 197 boats leaving Lake Guntersville State Park at 6:30 a.m. and returning for the weigh-in back at the park at 2:30 p.m. The leaders after Friday’s weigh-in will be crowned national team champions.

Then the six anglers from the Top 3 teams are scheduled to compete individually against one another in the Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-off. The winner of the individual competition will earn a bid to the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, March 4-6.

That event was scheduled for two days, but the schedule is now on hold.

“Since there will only be six anglers taking part in the fish-off, I’ll have a discussion with them,” Stewart said. “If they can all stay an extra day, the fish-off will be two days — Saturday and Sunday. If one of them isn’t able to stay, then we’ll finish up with a one-day fish-off on Saturday.”

Friday’s forecast for the Guntersville area from Weather Underground calls for overcast skies around takeoff time, with a 30 percent chance of rain for most of the day. Conditions are expected to be clear to partly cloudy Saturday, but severe storms are possible across the northern half of Alabama on Sunday.

“They’re calling for some rain here, which actually should help the fog Friday morning,” Stewart said. “It does look better for tomorrow. We’ll be watching it closely.”

Alabama anglers Billy Sharp and Kevin Stubblefield took the lead in the team competition Wednesday with five bass that weighed 27 pounds, 6 ounces. The Guntersville husband-and-wife team of Kent and Shannon Ware is in second with 26-9.