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Secret York works one of her rigs across a rocky bottom on Lake Hickory while practicing for this weekend’s LBAA tournament. Ernie Masche/Record

For the second time in three years, the Lady Bass Anglers Association will fill the waters of Lake Hickory with boats and anglers for one of its national tournaments.

The two-day event is the first of four stops on the women’s pro bass tour. Anglers from across the country – as close as Maiden and as far away as South Texas – will populate the lake Friday and Saturday as they compete for the biggest catches.

Local professional angler Angela Mayo played an integral role in bringing the tournament to Hickory two years ago. That event went so well that there was high demand to bring it back again.

Secret York, a Kentucky native who co-founded the LBAA almost a decade ago, won the pro-angler event in 2017. She’s made the eight-hour trek here to defend that title this year, and said during a practice session earlier this week that she really enjoys fishing on Lake Hickory.

“Everybody loves it here, it’s beautiful,” she said.

There’s more to the lake, however, than meets the eye.

York went on to say that its size is perfect for a competition such as this one. It offers a variety of fishing experiences depending on how the anglers prefer to fish.

Many of them have spent the week searching for the best spots so they know where to go once the competition begins. And unlike Kentucky Lake, where York lives, Lake Hickory is small enough that anglers can rule out many areas they don’t believe will be successful for them.

“I’ll tell you that there will be five different ways that somebody does really well, or do as good as any of them,” York said. “It’ll be all different types of fishing so just whatever your strength is.”

But the fun isn’t reserved for just the professionals.

On Wednesday night, many of them met with disabled and wounded veterans to take them out on the boats. And there is something for the kids, too, as the LBAA has teamed up with Pond Hopper Nation to host a “Teach a Child to Fish” day. That event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lovelady Access on Lake Hickory, and the first 25 kids to register will receive a free fishing rod.

As for the competition, fishing begins at 6:30 a.m. today and tomorrow. There will be weigh-ins at 3:30 each afternoon at the Hickory Crawdads’ L.P. Frans Stadium, giving the community a chance to interact with the anglers and see who got the biggest catch of the day.

Anglers earn points based on their final results, with the goal of qualifying in the top 12 to reach the championship event on Caddo Lake in Shreveport, La., in September. This stop on Lake Hickory will be crucial for those hoping to get a strong start to their 2019 season.

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