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Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Updated: September 4, 12:49 PM ET
BASS Reporter's Notebook

By Deb Johnson
BASS Communications

The second of three Bassmaster Central Open tournaments this season, the Sept. 3-5 Open event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir out of Jasper, Texas, will be decisive for quite a few anglers.

At season's end, the top two anglers in the points standings will qualify for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic and the top seven will have 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series invitations in hand.

Leading the race for those two coveted prizes is Bassmaster Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas. But many anglers are still in the hunt. One is Elite pro J. Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga.

Tucker, a second year Elite pro, just wrapped up the Elites in August, but he has also been competing this year in all three Bassmaster Open circuits: Northern, Southern and Central. Besides the monetary lure of entering multiple circuits, the Opens were a way to improve his odds of getting into the field for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala. It would be Tucker's first Classic appearance.

A 56th place finish in the Elite's Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings left Tucker shy of a Classic slot through the Elite ranks — but well inside the cutline to qualify for the 2010 Elite season.

So Tucker's options are now from the Open circuits. His points rankings line him up fairly well in two: 21st in the Southern Open, fourth in the Northern Open. His 51st place in the Central Open isn't as good, but with two events to go, much is possible.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, fishing fans can log onto Bassmaster.com for live, streaming video of the Sam Rayburn competition's weigh-ins beginning at 3:50 p.m. ET. The site also will present daily photo galleries, stories and standings.

THE REAL MCCOY

Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy is on the cover of the September/October issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

It shows the University of Texas senior hoisting two bass as he kneels on the deck of Alton Jones' boat, the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champ who took McCoy fishing recently. They were joined on Lake Whitney (a fishery north of Waco, Texas, where Jones lives) by Longhorns receiver Jordan Shipley and Bassmaster editorial and ESPN Outdoors camera crews.

The cover story by James Hall, Bassmaster editor, shows that the 22-year-old McCoy not only likes to spend time on the water, he's nearly as good at fishing as he is at football. McCoy won the 2008 Walter Camp Award and was the 2008 Heisman Trophy runner-up and his accolades are expected to increase after this season.

A sidebar relates how, with McCoy on shore and Shipley on board Jones' boat, McCoy throws to Shipley as he zooms by at 40 miles per hour.

Was the pass complete? Bonus content at Bassmaster.com shows the remarkable outcome.

HONORS FOR SANDERS

ESPN Outdoors TV personality Tommy Sanders will be inducted Sept. 11 into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.

Sanders, a graduate of Hendrix College and a resident of Little Rock, has been prominent for years in ESPN Outdoors programming. He and Mark Zona co-host the weekly ESPN2 show The Bassmasters, as well as the Bassmaster.com show Hooked Up, which is webcast live from Bassmaster Elite Series competition venues.

Sanders was one of four tapped as a 2009 inductee. The others were Bert and Cheryl Haralzon of Augusta, Ark., and Greg Butts of Little Rock.

Former inductees include Bobby Murray, whose two Bassmaster Classic wins are highlighted by the first Classic, in 1971; Jerry McKinnis, with whom Sanders worked for years on The Bassmasters; 1973 Classic champ Rayo Breckenridge; and Cotton Cordell, founder of the famous lure brand now owned by PRADCO.

A program of the Arkansas Game & Fish Foundation, the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame is in its 18th year. The foundation supports the mission of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and raises money to support conservation, habitat and educational programs in the state.

The 18th annual induction ceremony will be Friday, Sept. 11, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. More information is available at www.agff.org or by calling 501-223-6396.

WIRTH THE GOLFER

Now that his 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series season is over, Kevin Wirth of Crestwood, Ky., has turned to golf to quench his competitive thirst.

He's playing in the Aug. 31-Sept. 4 PGA TOUR Superstore World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Wirth is up against 3,059 other golfers from 49 states and 20 countries. The winner after four rounds of net stroke golf plus a fifth playoff round is regarded as the world's top amateur. Flight winners receive trophies and gift certificates good at a PGA TOUR Superstore. Over $130,000 in gift certificates will be awarded.

As on the water, Wirth shines on the links. When he competed in the World Am event last year, he finished in a five-way tie for third place. To see how Wirth fares in 2009, go to www.worldamgolf.com/results.

A 7.4-handicap golfer, Wirth has had few weeks a year to give to the game. Elite tournaments and his appearance schedule at fishing events take most of his time. His next on-the-water competition will be Feb. 19-21 on Alabama's Lay Lake in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic. He qualified for the world's most prestigious fishing contest by finishing 23rd in the 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year rankings. It will be his 11th Classic appearance.

THE BEST VS. THE BEST

"The postseason is upon us, and I think we added some intrigue with the way things ended up at Oneida. There is certainly a pile of all-star talent in the finals ready to tackle Alabama." — 2009 Classic champ Skeet Reese in his Bassmaster.com blog.