Jonathan Newton hopes his experience angling in the Decatur area will give him an advantage in the FLW Tour Open fishing tournament starting today at Ingalls Harbor.
“It’s a challenging time of year for everybody, which makes it even more fun,” he said. “The fish go from the summer pattern into the fall pattern, and they’re just kind of roaming around. It makes it hard to locate the fish.
“Just being familiar with the water makes a big difference because it isn’t near as stressful when you know the areas where the fish usually are.”
Newton, a Team Evinrude angler from Rogersville, will be among 178 competitors casting for top awards and up to $125,000 in the Pro Division and $25,000 in the Co-Angler Division during the event.
The event is expected to generate about $500,000 in revenue for the area, according to the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Eighty boats will participate, each with an angler and co-angler, FLW spokesman Joseph Opager said.
“The co-angler fishes off the back of the boat, and the angler fishes off the front,” he said.
After three days of official practice, the water was off limits to anglers Wednesday.
Recent wet weather presents another challenge.
“It has been kind of a roller coaster ride for three days, with 5 inches of rain and the cool front, but that’s typical for this time of year,” Newton said.
Newton, a Rogersville city councilman who has been a full-time angler for eight years, said advances in technology through the years, especially for full-time professional anglers, have made fishing more challenging.
“The mapping has gotten so much better,” he said. “A lot of the stuff that we used to know — now they have the capability of turning on depth finders and can use GPS to find the fish as well.
“You still have to think outside the box, and you have to observe what people are doing in practice and general fishing.”
Newton had his best FLW Tour season in 2010. Though he didn’t post a victory or a top-10 finish, he earned seventh place in the Angler of the Year race. He won his first FLW event in the EverStart competition on Lake Pickwick in 2003.
Straight Talk Pro Scott Canterbury said he is confident going into the event, despite the recent rain that muddied waterways.
“You’ve got to be confident or you shouldn’t be out here,” he said. “It’s a tough bite right now.”
Canterbury, of Springville, is fishing his fifth FLW Tour season. He started fishing Bass Fishing League events in 2003 and has qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup three of the four years he has been on the tour.
In 2009, he began the Tour season with two top-10 finishes and ranked 28th in the Angler of the Year chase.
Canterbury said he enjoys fishing the Tennessee River system because of the number of fish and the current, and prepares by doing as much research as possible.
“I came up for a couple of days before it went off limits and rode around and looked at what was new and where the grass was growing,” he said. “The three days of practice, I get up, and I’m on the water around daylight and take out around dark — just trying to find as many areas as you can that you like and can catch a fish in.”
A free Outdoors Expo will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Wal-Mart before the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes fishing tips from anglers, Ranger boat simulators and interactive games, activities and giveaways.
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