Anglers seek to catch a smile

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Pike County Chapter of Outdoors Without Limits (OWL) will host its Second Annual “Catch a Smile” Professional Bass Fishing Tournament at Campbell Plantation near Banks this weekend.

The activities begin tonight with a private gathering of the professional bass anglers with fishing set to begin at 6 a.m. Friday.

OWL is a non-profit organization designed to empower people of all abilities through quality outdoor experiences.

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“The ‘Catch a Smile’ bass fishing tournament is a National OWL benefit with the Pike County Chapter as the official host,” said Johnny Green, a member of the Pike County OWL chapter. “We have a great lineup of anglers, including Greg Hackney, who won the tournament last year, and our own pro bass angler, Keith Poche.”

Other anglers who will compete for the tournament title are Aaron Martens, Shaw Grigsby, Pam Martin Wells, David Kilgore, Greg Vinson, Jim Hardy, J. Todd Tucker, Eric Netherly and a pro angler from the local area, Russ Lane from the Prattville-Millbrook area. OWL’s official spokesman Hank Parker will be back to emcee the weigh-ins.

“One of the young, up-and-coming fishermen on the pro bass tour, Dakota Bates Morgan, will be here,” Green said. “I’m not sure whether she’ll fish or just hang around.”

Each of the pros will be paired with a disabled individual for both mornings of fishing.

The bass pros and their partners will fish from 6 until 11:30 a.m. at Campbell Plantation lakes. The public is invited to view the fishing from the roadways or from inside the gate. Gate admission is $5 per person and includes attendance at the weigh-ins around 11:30 both days and opportunities to meet the professional bass anglers.

Food will be available at the lake pavilion and OWL t-shirts will be for sale.

The public will have another opportunity to meet the anglers at the banquet Friday night at Cattleman Park.

Tickets are $20 each and include the program with Greg Hackney as the featured speaker, a barbecue supper and a chance to bid on the huge number of silent auction items, that include everything from massages to tool boxes filled with tools or fishing items.

Several items will be raffled including a gun and possibly a Big Green Egg.

Tickets are will be available at the door. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with serving set to begin at 6:30 p.m.

“The ‘Catch a Smile’ Professional Bass Fishing Tournament is an OWL event and we have a special fishing opportunity for all disabled people from ages one to 100,” Green said. “The Bream Buster fishing event gets started Saturday morning around 8:30 and ends around 11:30. There is no admission charge for the disabled fishermen and one caretaker per fisherman also gets in free.”

The disabled fishermen may keep all bass that are four inches or smaller and catfish and crappie but no bream may be kept.

“We invite everyone to join us at Campbell Plantation for two days of fishing fun,” Green said. “This is a great opportunity to mingle with some of the best professional anglers in the country. “It’s a lot of fun and supports a very worthwhile organization.”