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Seen and Heard at Dixie Duel

4/2/2009

DECATUR, Ala. — How do you describe the downpour at Thursday's first-round weigh-in of the Evan Williams Bourbon Dixie Duel at Ingalls Harbor.

"The most intense weigh-in that I've ever seen in 19 years of tournaments," Tournament Director Trip Weldon said.

Though the weigh-in began with only a few sprinkles, in between the third and final flights, the skies unloaded. Lightning flashed and rain sloshed across fishermen and spectators in a horizontal flood.

More than an inch of rain fell in less than 30 minutes, and Weldon eventually called a 15-minute halt to the proceedings until the squall line moved past.

In what must have been the quickest weigh-in in BASS history, anglers and their catches were hurried across the tournament stage. The weigh-in, which can run near two hours, started at 5 p.m. ET and was over by 6.

Never have so many pros had so little to say.

A rare catch

In the final day of practice on Wednesday, Mark Menendez caught a hybrid smallmouth-largemouth of about 3 pounds.

Though hardly common, such crossbreeds do occur, and Menendez said it was the second one he had caught in the past four months.

Whether a product of a random meeting of largemouth milt with a smallmouth's egg, or an intentional mating, such hybrids display characteristics of both parents. The Kentucky pro released the one he caught at Lake Wheeler, hoping to boat it again during the competiton. Thursday, it didn't happen.

A little extra weight

Mike Iaconneli of New Jersey didn't land a smallmouth-largemouth hybrid on opening day, but he caught something perhaps scarcer still: a largemouth bass with a 6-inch-long lamprey attached to it.

"It was pretty rough-looking with that lamprey growing out of its head, and I started to pull it off," said the New Jersey pro. "But then I figured, what the heck, it's extra weight, and I left it on."

Unfortunately for Iaconelli, the lamprey and the bass parted company in the livewell.