Anglers, fish try to stay out of hot water

With weight deductions for dead bass at stake, ice coming to the rescue

BASS Classic notebook

Fishing

July 27, 2002|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The BASS Classic might want to consider an ice-fishing tournament, given the number of cubes being used each day by competitors trying to keep their catches cool.

With an intense sun, temperatures hovering in the low 90s and humidity above 70 percent, it's an uphill battle, but one the anglers have to join. Each bass that dies before the afternoon weigh-in is a 4-ounce deduction for the angler.

Down at Paradise Point Marina, the tournament's launch point on Lay Lake, a muscled worker slings 7-pound bags of ice into a cooler every morning and replenishes it in the afternoon.

The anglers are using about 3,500 pounds a day, he said.

On the first day, eight fish died, two in Davy Hite's live well, even though he cut his day short by 40 minutes.

"I tried doing CPR on that one fish," said Hite, the BASS Angler of the Year. "It hurts my heart inside to see a largemouth bass die."

Yesterday, with anglers loading up on ice and running their live-well aerators on high, the number of dead bass was halved.

Business at home

Pardon Carl Maxfield if his mind isn't completely on the tournament.

His wife, Toni, is about to give birth at home in Summerville, S.C., and Maxfield has kept in cell-phone contact with her.

Two poor days of fishing left Maxfield two spots from last, and he'll be heading home today.

But the Maxfields aren't the only ones expecting.

Maryland's Chris and Katie Price are awaiting the late October arrival of their first child.

When asked which rated higher, his first Classic or his first child, Price, who is competing as one of the five amateur anglers, said, jokingly, "The Classic. This could be a once-in-a lifetime thing for me. I'm going to have other children."

Finding their rhythm

Competitors get to choose the music they use to enter the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center arena for the ESPN weigh-in show.

Some choices were comical. Jeff Coble, who got kicked off the rival FLW tour two years ago during a squabble about his choice of hat, selected John Mellencamp's "Authority Song" ("I fight authority, authority always wins").

Three-time Angler of the Year Mark Davis chose Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild."

Kevin Wirth, the former two-time Kentucky Derby jockey turned bass pro, selected "What's Going On," by Marvin Gaye.

But Maxfield, who won the Top 150 Tournament in Maryland two years ago, seemed puzzled by the music played as he mounted the stage Thursday.

ESPN host Fish Fishburne sensed the confusion and quizzed Maxfield about the title and artist.

"You tell me," Maxfield said, shaking his head.

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