Bass anglers descend on Selma waters

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 23, 2004

About 70 fishers pushed off from the Selma Marina Saturday morning hoping to answer the riddle – the riddle of where the biggest bass could be found.

Professional and amateur fishers participated in the second of six fishing tournaments sponsored by Angler’s Paradise, a weekly television show airing Sundays on Comcast/Charter Sports. Starting at around 7 a.m., the fishermen began searching for the perfect spot on the Alabama River in hopes of bringing back the five biggest fish – and the cash prizes that came along with them.

At 3 p.m. the boats returned, many empty-handed. Terry Tucker, of Gadsden, was one of the lucky ones. “It was pretty tough,” he said. “The fish have been pretty slow. They didn’t start biting until about 12:30 p.m.”

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Tucker, who won the first qualifying tournament last month, walked away with about 15 pounds of bass. Ken Romain, of Tuscaloosa, had close to 14 pounds of fish. The biggest weighed 3.61 pounds. “It was a good day,” Romain said. “I got 10 keepers.”

According to Jim Austin, the host of Angler’s Paradise, each fisher could only bring back five fish and each must be at least 12 inches. All fish had to be alive when weighed. If any of the requirements weren’t met, penalties were incurred. Each dead fish subtracted two ounces from the fisherman’s score. A fish smaller than 12 ounces meant the fisher’s biggest fish was disqualified.

“Some won’t have any fish at all,” Austin said just moments before the first boat returned. “You’ve got to figure out the riddle of bass fishing. You might be using the wrong lure. You might be using the wrong presentation.”

Austin said that a boat could be in the perfect place to catch fish, but they wouldn’t bite because they were facing the wrong way. “It all depends on what the fish want to do,” he added.

And if some didn’t catch anything on Saturday, they’ll get another chance next month. Angler’s Paradise will host its third qualifying tournament in Gadsden in March. The fourth will occur at Claw Kill Lake in Georgia in June. The fifth tournament has yet to be announced. The sixth is scheduled for Pell City in September.

Those fishers that make the cut in the qualifying tournaments will compete in the classic tournament next year.

Austin became the host of Angler’s Paradise after meeting the show’s producer/director, James Isaac, at Austin’s brake shop. Isaac, who had been producing shows for stations such as The Discovery Channel, saw several boats at Austin’s shop. When he saw another boat get pulled into the shop, Isaac asked what was going on.

It turned out that Austin was preparing boats for a tournament in Gadsden. A professional fisher himself, Austin talked Isaac into traveling to the tournament.

“And we filmed all day long,” Isaac said. “Austin was on the mic, he’s got the gift of gab, and I convinced him he could be on a show. One thing just led to another.”

About three years later Angler’s Paradise is seen each Sunday on Comcast/Charter Sports. Isaac is currently talking with ESPN representatives about getting the show broadcast.