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Classic turns out well after all

Driving through Clanton on Saturday, the sound of weather alert sirens did not bode well for the fishing tournament I was headed to.

As a new member of the Rotary Club of Chilton County, I was on my way to help host the tournament–as well as cover it for the newspaper, as I’ve done for the past four years now.

There was some uncertainty among club members about the turnout. The decision had been made this year to host the tournament in the evening, from 4-10 p.m., instead of during the day. Not as many fishermen had pre-registered for the event as in years past, so we were unsure whether participants liked the change or not.

And now a storm is rolling in. We wanted to open up registration at 3 p.m., one hour before the start of the tournament, but heavy rain pushed it back some. Also, the pavilion at Higgins Ferry Park was reserved right up until 4, so registration was being done in a trailer from Gene’s Marine in Montgomery, who provided a boat to give away through a drawing among participants and helped with many other aspects of the event.

It didn’t seem like the ideal start to the day–maybe I’m bad luck, I thought–but then the boats started pouring in. Three of us were stationed in front of the boat launch, checking live wells to make sure the fish we weighed later in the night had indeed been caught that day and in that lake.

Turns out serious fishermen aren’t easily scared away from the lake, and the boat and a guaranteed $1,000 prize for the first-place winner provided even more motivation for the anglers to stick it out.

Considering we had 45 boats in the tournament, the event went off remarkably smooth, a tribute to Rotarian Carl Mims, Kim Cleckler and others with Gene’s Marine. The winner, Bo Hunter, fished by himself after his partner backed out at the last minute, while all the other entries had two fishermen on the boat.

Are we sure we checked that live well, guys?