Originally created 05/02/04

Easter Seals expects big turnout



More than $14,000 will be up for grabs Saturday during the 22nd annual Easter Seals Open Team Bass Tournament expected to lure as many as 200 boats to Columbia County's Wildwood Park.

"This is the first time we've had the opportunity to use the completed ramps at Wildwood, so we're looking forward to a big crowd," Easter Seals Development Director Laurie Cook said.

Throughout its history, the tournament has raised about $10,000 each year for the organization, she said. "Multiply that by 22 years and you can see what a tremendous help fishing has been to Easter Seals."

Last year's event attracted 155 boats, but this year as many as 200 are expected to converge at the $1.2 million, six-lane Wildwood tournament site dedicated in April.

First prize award is $7,500, with other prizes of $2,750, $1,750, $1,250 and $1,000 offered to winning teams.

A Big Fish Pot is optional at $5 per team, she said.

After weigh-in, the winners will be announced, but they must pass a polygraph test before they receive their check.

"They take this very seriously, and they want to make sure no one can cry foul," Cook said. "The polygrapher will ask how long they were fishing, whether they actually caught the fish, questions like that."

To keep things honest, the Clarks Hill Committee, which organizes and hosts the tournament, usually recruits a polygraph examiner from outside the area.

"The fishing clubs raise the prize money not only to guarantee the winnings, but also to insure that Easter Seals and the people with disabilities we serve benefit from the event year after year," Cook said.

This year's tournament will be held Saturday with sponsors including Century 21/Larry Miller Realty and Budweiser. The entry fee is $60 per two-man team for Clark Hill Committee members and $100 for others.

A boat flight drawing and early registration will be held Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Augusta Marine Superstore, 1547 Gordon Highway.

Late registration will be held at 5 a.m. Saturday, with blast off from Wildwood Park at 6:30 a.m. Call 706-667-9695 for details and applications.

Last year's first prize was split by teammates Robby Grandle of Warrenville, S.C., and Pat Ellis of North Augusta.