Posted by Tom Ensey - email
A private lake in Pike County loaded with trophy bass is loaded this weekend with a dozen top professional fishermen paired with disabled anglers from across the nation.
They are participating in the first Catch a Smile fishing tournament, a two-day event organized by OWL – Outdoors Without Limits – which is dedicated to using outdoor sports to break down barriers and provide opportunity for people who might not otherwise have the chance to fish, hunt and enjoy nature.
The local sponsor and the owner of the 80-acre lake is Kenny Campbell of Troy, who also owns a nearby smaller lake that will host a free bream fishing tourney for anyone with a disability starting at about 8 a.m. Saturday.
The lakes are located off Alabama 29, which runs through Banks. Kirk Thomas, a spokesman for Owl said drive past the grocery store across the railroad tracks and look for the first left past Banks Elementary School. There'll be signs and plenty of people there to help participants and spectators find their way around.
Among the pros are Hank Parker, a world champion angler and a host of an outdoor TV show, who is also a spokesman for OWL. He has been called "The rod-and-reel answer to Michael Jordan."
Other pros include Shaw Grigsby, Aaron Martin, Kevin Wirth and others.
Thomas said the amateur participants come from all over, and one blind fisherman came all the way from New Jersey for the event.
There will be a dinner open to the public Friday night at 6 p.m. at the Cattlemen's Association Building on U.S. 231. Cost for dinner and a chance to meet the pros and see their boats close up is just $20.
Competition will resume Saturday morning at about 6 a.m. and conclude at 11:30 a.m. with the final weigh-in and awards ceremonies at noon, Thomas said.