The FLW Tour will visit Lake Norman March 24-27 for the second stop of the FLW Tour circuit. The Wal-Mart/FLW National Guard Open Bass Tournament is presented by the National Guard and hosted by the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Charlotte Sports Commission, Visit Lake Norman and Visit Charlotte. This is the largest Pro Angler bass tournament scheduled for Lake Norman this year. This is the fourth year that this event has been held at Lake Norman.
Here's your chance to see some of the country's best bass anglers in person. It doesn't get any better than this. Watch them weigh in their bass, get pictures and get autographs. Lots of fans even follow their favorite angler in boats.
Anglers will take off from Blythe Landing, located on N.C. 73 in Cornelius, at 7:15 each morning. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday weigh-ins will be held at Blythe Landing beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will begin at 4 p.m.at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center located at 4751 N.C. 49 North in Concord.
Fans will be able to experience a Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo at the arena on Friday from 5 - 9 p.m. and Saturday prior to the final weigh-in from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV, compliments of radio station WRFX. Rod and reel combos will be given to the first 300 children under 14 on Saturday.
The Family Fun Zone includes Ranger boat simulators, opportunities to interact with professional anglers, games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors and chances to learn more about the sport of fishing. All activities are free and open to the public. Thousands of fans are expected.
Chad Gay, public relations manager for FLW Outdoors, commented on the upcoming event.
"We have a full field of 150 pros and 150 co-anglers set to compete in the event, and it's shaping up to be a good one," he said.
The pros have to qualify and pay a $4,000 entry fee to fish in this event, and the co-anglers pay to fish from the back of the boat. You have to have a dream to fish with the best of the best, and you have to have the $700 entry fee.
By a drawing, participants are paired with a different pro each of the first three days to try to win the $25,000 first-place, co-angler prize. Competitors' scores are determined by the number and weight of bass caught by the co-angler and the pro. This year 30 co-anglers are from North Carolina, and 13 are local area anglers.
"Temperatures are warming up; the water temps are slowly increasing, and that, paired with the longer days letting a little more sunlight in each day, is really getting the fish into a solid pre-spawn mode with some of them just itching to spawn," said Gay in an e-mail. "The bite should be great during the event. Of course, the regular big names are always a threat on Lake Norman, but local knowledge could pay off this time. I look for a strong performance from Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia. Last year's winner, 22-year-old Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., won the event in only his second pro start. He loves it there. My long-shot pick is Bobby Curtis of Siloam Springs, Ark. The clear home waters of Beaver Lake are the perfect training grounds for Lake Norman."
There will be lots of local representation joining Chris Baumgardner. Matt Arey and Bryan Thrift, of Shelby, Todd Auten, of Lake Wylie, David Fritts, of Lexington, Brent Long, of Cornelius, and Brian Travis, of Conover, will try their best to take home the $125,000 first-place, pro prize.
Gay shared this interview from a press release with pro-angler Bryan Thrift.
"If it stays warm, it's going to be wide open," said Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., who has won more than $447,000 in FLW Outdoors competition. "It's a great lake to fish, and it will be a really fun tournament. Lots of limits will be caught."
Thrift predicts bass will be in pre-spawn mode as well as on the beds when anglers begin competing. He said unlike previous Tour events on Lake Norman, this stop is happening during the prime time for anglers to weigh heavy limits.
"It's going to be the best we've ever seen, I hope," Thrift said. "I think we're going to see a lot of 15- to 16-pound bags. If the water temperature gets up into the low- to mid-60s, you'll really be able to pick your poison. You'll be able to do whatever you want to do to catch them."
Thrift predicts an angler will need a weight in the mid- to upper-40s to walk away with the championship title.
Bring the camera, bring the kids, your best fishing buddy and come out to Blythe Landing to see what bass fishing is all about.