Pierce survives, North Carolina prevails

 LUCAS, Ky. -- Weather stole the headlines here on the third and final day of the Southern Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter.

 But the North Carolina team and Tennessee's Mark Pierce won the titles on flooded and storm-battered Barren River Lake.

 On a day shortened by two hours because of predictions for severe weather in the afternoon, North Carolina charged out of fourth place to edge Alabama for the team title by just 7 ounces.

 "We're really excited about that," said a jubilant Chuck Murray, president of the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. "Alabama got us by 5 ounces up in North Carolina (2009 on Lake Gaston).

 "This is a great fishery and we had a great team effort to win it here."

 Pierce, meanwhile, hung on to claim the individual title by 1 pound, 13 ounces over Alabama's Jamie Horton. The Tennessee angler, who has competed in the divisional five times, managed only two bass for 3-14, but his double-digit bags on the first two days carried him through.

 "The weather made things different today, so I tried a crankbait and a spinnerbait to start," he said. "But they didn't work, so I went back to flipping."

 The water level also "made things different" for the tournament's first two days, transforming this competition one in which weather truly dominated. Before heavy rains came on Monday night and early Tuesday, anglers caught lots of quality fish while practicing. Mostly they took them by flipping brush in the backs of coves.

 But heavy runoff pouring into the Barren River flooded the 10,000-acre impoundment and scattered the bass.

 "This was one of the best fisheries that I've ever been on before the water came up," Horton said.

 Pierce added, "This tournament did not do this lake justice. If we hadn't had the floods, we could have seen 60 pounds."

But because of adverse conditions, just four anglers managed more than 30 pounds and only 15 limits were taken in three days by the 84 anglers representing seven states. Still, many of the fish weighed in were of quality size, with quite a few in the 5- to 7-pound range.

 Brian Anderson's 6-12 on Day Three -- the big bass of the day -- helped his North Carolina team gain a measure of revenge over Alabama.

 Home team Kentucky took third, South Carolina fourth, Tennessee fifth, Georgia sixth, and Florida seventh.




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