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Alabamas Lake Neely Henry to host 2007 ...

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Alabamas Lake Neely Henry to host 2007 Bass Federation Nation National Championships
CELEBRATION, Fla. - The BASS Federation Nation National Championship is the place where dreams are realized for amateur anglers.

The 2007 version will feature 54 talented anglers competing on Lake Neely Henry, Jan. 17-19, out of Gadsden, Ala., and throughout its illustrious history, the championship has served as the amateur angler's crowning event.

The full field will have a chance to earn one of six qualifying spots into bass fishing's most major event, the 2007 Bassmaster Classic, and a shot at the $500,000 Classic grand prize. The Classic spots are awarded to the top performer in each of six geographic divisions.

"The Federation Nation Championship continues to be the premier tournament for amateur anglers from around the world," said Gary Jones, director of the BASS Federation Nation. "We are excited about all of the perks associated for anglers who do well in this marquee event."

Television coverage from the championship will air on ESPN2 Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. ET. The winner will take home $15,000 plus a Triton/Mercury package valued at $50,000. But this championship is about so much more.

"It's not so much the money," said Justin Nichols, the lone Alabama representative in the field. "It's more about earning the reputation of beating everyone because these are all good anglers."

Nichols, a 32-year-old field service technician in Tuscaloosa, is typical of the competitive nature that dominates the entire national championship field.

A longtime member of the West Alabama BASS Federation Nation club, Nichols qualified through the BASS Federation Nation Southern Division.

Joining Nichols are anglers from across the country and globe representing 47 states and Canada (Ontario), Italy, Mexico, Japan, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Also competing is 2006 champion Anre De Villiers and Rhode Island's Joel St. Germain, who qualified for the 2006 Bassmaster Classic through last year's Federation Nation Championship.

This year's winner will receive an added bonus - qualifying for the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series. Also, the six divisional winners will receive paid entry fees into the Bassmaster Open division of their choice.

Lake Neely Henry is 11,235 acres and is home to quality populations of largemouth and spotted bass  as past BASS tournaments have demonstrated.

Although Nichols is from Alabama, he has little experience on Neely Henry. He believes that his experience on other lakes in the Coosa River chain (Lay, Mitchell and Alabama River) through past club tournaments might give him an advantage in this tournament.

"I've only fished Neely Henry one time before it went off-limits," he said. "The fishing could be good. That river is narrow, so there should be a lot of current. And we've had a mild winter. So the fish ought to bite.

"I think the spots will be caught in numbers, but there will be some big largemouth, too. A jig, crankbait and just about any bait will probably work."

The no-entry-fee tournament will feature a five-bass daily limit and the full field will fish all three days. Daily launches will take place at the Gadsden Boat Dock at 7 a.m. Daily weigh-ins will begin at 3:30 p.m. at the Gadsden Mall.

2007 Federation Nation Contenders

1. Mark Adams New Mexico

2. Hoyt Akins Arkansas

3. Greg Alexander Delaware

4. Sean Alvarez Vermont

5. Jeffrey Brown South Dakota

6. Pete Cherkas Iowa

7. Martin Alexander De Kock South Africa

8. Anre De Villiers South Africa

9. Royce Dennington Oklahoma

10. Michael Edrington Kansas

11. Eric Femiak Massachusetts

12. Alan Fluharty West Virginia

13. John Gardner Colorado

14. Carl Hunter Georgia

15. Jimmy Johnson Texas

16. David Junk Illinois

17. Pat Klausen Nebraska

18. Dave Kromm Washington

19. Scott Lakey Michigan

20. Jim Lambert Pennsylvania

21. Ken Larrabee Arizona

22. Robert Laufaenberg New Jersey

23. Brent Long South Carolina

24. Mike MacDonald Zimbabwe

25. Joseph Matt New York

26. Mike Mattis Wisconsin

27. Bryan McNeal Ohio

28. Terry McWilliams Indiana

29. Brian Morin New Hampshire

30. Dean Morris Florida

31. Ivan Morris Virginia

32. Scott Nadeau Maine

33. Justin Nichols Alabama

34. Chris Novack Connecticut

35. Luke Payne Missouri

36. Ed Peterson California

37. Greg Pink Utah

38. David Porter Florida

39. Marco Rodriguez Idaho

40. Edgar Romero Mexico

41. Roberto Rondinini Italy

42. Mark Rorke Ontario

43. Tim Runions Tennessee

44. Jim Severson Minnesota

45. Bruce Shockley Louisiana

46. Stephen Siddoway Wyoming

47. Curtis Spindler Montana

48. Joel St. Germain Rhode Island

49. Bryan Thrift North Carolina

50. Shigeru Tsukiyama Japan

51. Les Underwood Kentucky

52. Kevin Waterman Maryland

53. Marks Wilkinson Mississippi

54. Gary Yexley Oregon