Ultimate Bass

Toyota Trucks Championship Continues Thursday and Friday

Wetumpka, Ala., started Toyota Trucks Championship Week with a bang by hosting a big crowd for the Sept. 12 and 13 weigh-ins of the Berkley Powerbait Trophy Chase, the first half of the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason.

Wetumpka, Ala., started Toyota Trucks Championship Week with a bang by hosting a big crowd for the Sept. 12 and 13 weigh-ins of the Berkley Powerbait Trophy Chase, the first half of the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason.

According to Linda Lewis, assistant to Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis, more than 1,700 people turned out Saturday and Sunday afternoons to watch the 12 finalists bring their Lake Jordan catches to the scales. Lewis said the attendance estimate does not include spectators who watched from the shore or from boats as the Toyota 12 competed last Saturday and Sunday on Lake Jordan, just north of Wetumpka.

Those first two weigh-ins were a warm-up for the second set of weigh-ins this week, the Sept. 17 and 18 Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph at 4 p.m. CT on Thursday and at 6 p.m. CT on Friday. The site will be Riverwalk Amphitheater in Montgomery, where the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year will be crowned.

Fans can come out early each day to have fun at the free Bassmaster Outdoors Expo that opens at 2 p.m. CT. Details on the Expo’s exhibits are available here. Everything is free and open to the public, including a post-weigh-in treat, an open-air concert by CMA award nominee Zac Brown Band (see below for details).

But before the musical entertainment begins, the new Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year will claim his crown and $200,000 prize. Winnings of the other 11 pros will range from $75,000 for second place to $14,000 for 12th place. The total purse is $499,500.

The Lake Jordan competition positioned 2009 Bassmaster Classic champ Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., as the points leader in the race to take the AOY title. If Reese prevails, he would be the first to duplicate the 1995 feat of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., the only angler to land Classic and AOY crowns in the same year.

A BIG BITE OF CHICKEN FRIED: The Zac Brown Band hit “Chicken Fried” is about life’s small but sweetest delights. Last week the group received a big, yet very sweet reward: four nominations for the 43rd Country Music Association (CMA) Awards.

Everyone in the greater Montgomery, Ala., area is invited to hear ZBB’s hit song when the band performs following the Sept. 18 finale weigh-in of Toyota Trucks Championship Week, an inaugural event for the Bassmaster Elite Series. The free festivities will be at Riverwalk Amphitheater, downtown Montgomery’s showcase facility on the Alabama River. The weigh-in will begin at 6 p.m. CT.

The four nominations were the first for the band. In comparison, only three other artists received four nominations: Jamey Johnson, George Strait and Taylor Swift. Brad Paisley is up for seven awards, more than any other artist.

The Zac Brown Band was nominated in the “new artist” and “vocal group” categories. “Chicken Fried” was nominated for single of the year. Brown himself was nominated for the song of the year award along with Wyatt Durrette, co-writer of Chicken Fried.

Fans can see how ZBB fares when the 2009 CMA Awards are broadcast live from Sommet Center in Nashville on Nov. 11.

The ZBB is known to appeal to a wide range of music lovers, including those who also love bass fishing. The group was a big hit when it played last February before the Day Two weigh-in of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic at the CenturyTel Center in Bossier City La.

The group has released two albums, the latest a collection of tunes from a live performance. The band has averaged more than 200 road shows a year since Brown formed the group almost five years ago.

ZBB quickly weighed in big on the music scene. It was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Chart, and 20 weeks steady on Billboard’s Top 100. When released, the video of “Chicken Fried” was among the most played at http://www.CMT.com. Now the site features another fun ZBB video, “Toes.”

THE COW PATTERN: A most unusual pattern produced a key keeper for Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., on the final day of the Sept. 10-12 Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour event on Tennessee’s Old Hickory Lake.

Here’s how Martin-Wells told the story:

“I went into a pocket — it happened to be the only pocket on the lake that didn’t have boats in it — and I’m goin’, ‘Good, no boats!’ and I put the trolling motor on high because there’s some good grass in there, some good depth. All of a sudden this cow comes — not walking, not meandering — but flying, running off the bank, into the water, and keeps walking until it gets midway to its belly. I’m like, ‘Dude, quit! You can’t swim, you need to go back!’”

She said the cow, which was of the ordinary-looking variety (black, no distinguishing marks or spots, no foaming at the mouth), did not budge.

“His buddies were on the bank. He stood there in the water, watching me. He sloshed his tail, mooed, made all kinds of racket. So I had to go to the other side of the pocket, away from the grass, and I caught a keeper. I would not have fished that side if it hadn’t been for the cow.”

Her second keeper of the day, the fish went about 2 pounds, a significant contribution to her day’s bag of 7 pounds, 15 ounces.

With a 19-7 tournament total, Martin-Wells finished in fifth place. More important, she kept her lead in the points race for the 2009 Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year title, an accomplishment that comes with a berth in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.

However the race turns out, she can claim to be the inventor of what one attending writer immediately dubbed “the cow pattern.”

Who knows, the technique might come in handy when she hits the Red River, Oct. 16-18 for the Academy Sports + Outdoors WBT Championship, the tournament that will decide the AOY.

FEDERATION NATION FINALE: Like the Bassmaster Elite Series and Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women’s Tour, the BASS Federation Nation is in full tournament mode and moving toward season finales.

This week, Wednesday through Friday, the final divisional tournament of 2009 will be played out on the Ohio River out of Wheeling, W. Va. The Sept. 16-18 Mid-Atlantic Divisional tournament will determine which Federation Nation anglers from the division will advance to the Oct. 28-30 BASS Federation Nation Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes out of Tavares, Fla.

That event, in which anglers representing all six divisionals will compete, will qualify six Federation anglers for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.

Weigh-ins for the West Virginia event will be at the Cabela’s location in Tridelphia at 1 Cabela Drive. Admission is free and open to the public.

Also at the event, the Junior Bassmaster and CastingKids entrants will compete for the right to advance to their respective finals held during the BASS Federation Nation Championship in Florida.

DOUBLE FEATURE: “I’m stoked to be in this position. All you can ask for is a chance.” — Skeet Reese last Sunday, just after the California pro positioned himself to go for a double: the Bassmaster Classic and Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year crowns in the same season

About BASS: For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

As the flagship offering of ESPN Outdoors, the Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com, ESPNOutdoors.com and ESPN360.com; and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women’s Tour, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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