RICHMOND, Virginia -- The 2011 Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #1 has arrived at the James River and GEICO pro anglers Robert Pearson and Teddy Carr are both extremely motivated to do well, but for different reasons. For Pearson, the competition and the stakes has him fired up for the first major tournament of the year. For Carr, the motivation is more personal, making his son proud, who is due home next week from fighting in Afghanistan. With different motivations to do well, both anglers have been planning and practicing for whatever comes their way.
For Pearson, the competition, the stakes, and the tough venue all add to the pressure. "Everybody in the country is here, and I mean everybody," Pearson said. "We're all looking to do well this weekend and get that Bassmaster Classic berth in our pocket. This is the first of three tournaments to qualify for the Elite Series, too, so you have the best from every division out here competing in one event. It's going to be a shootout.
"I've been practicing and I can tell you it's going to be a tough, tough tournament. Fishing has been extremely hard, and it's been difficult to even catch five fish on a given day. We're going to see. But hey, I usually thrive in tough tournaments, so I'm excited. I'm going to run a long ways, and we're going to see tomorrow evening when we get to the scales and weigh 'em in just how we stack up."
According to Pearson, the huge James River fishery has been in a slow rebuilding phase since a large fish kill wiped out a large portion of the population almost a decade ago. He said with so many people routinely fishing the popular area, not to mention the various tournaments held there, that fish can be scarce at times.
"This venue has been extremely tough for the last seven years because they had a fish kill," Pearson said. "They stopped having BASS tournaments altogether for the last few years and they stocked the entire area with finger-length fish maybe two or three years ago but it hasn't helped a whole lot, at least not yet.
"For whatever reason BASS decided they were going to have this tournament here so we're going to fish. We're just looking to catch five fish, to be honest with you. The Potomac was tough, but I could catch five fish pretty easily on the Potomac. Here, it'll be difficult, but I still think I can do it."
"Here's what I plan to do: Calm down, fish hard, do my best, and put them on the scales," Pearson said. "It's going to be a tough event. It's loaded. But I'm ready."
As for GEICO angler Teddy Carry, he has his own reason for wanting to do well over the four day tournament. "My son John (a corporal in the United States Marine Corps) is coming home from Afghanistan early next week," Carr said. "Before they loaded up for the trip back he called me and wished me luck. Man, that pumped me up. Sure this is a big-time event with a lot of stress, but when it gets put in context against what John's been up against, this is nothing but a good time."
With a refreshed perspective, Carr has laid out a game plan honed from several days of practice on the massive tributary, which is fed in large part by the Appomattox and Chickahominy Rivers.
"It's all about timing your fishing with the tide," Carr said. "The James, the Chick, and the Appomattox are very different from the Potomac, even though they're both tidal rivers. You have to move around a lot and you have to time your fish just right. Go in too early and you'll miss the bite. Go too late and they're gone.
"This should fit my power style pretty well. It wouldn't surprise me if I make 40 or more stops each day. There may even be places where I stop for just five or six casts before I fire it up and move on. It happens that quickly.
"The thing is, if you hit it just right, you'll catch plenty."
"I can't wait for John to get home, but I'm not going to look past this tournament because I know how thrilled he'll be if I have a big weekend," Carr said.
For both anglers, weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Osborne Park and Boat Landing, located at 9680 Osborne Turnpike in southeast Richmond. The top 12 anglers after Friday's weigh-in will advance to Saturday. The overall tournament winner will earn a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, although they must compete in all three Northern Opens to claim the prize
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