LAKE WYLIE -- About this time last year, Todd Auten of Lake Wylie qualified for the one of the final spots in the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. This year, he hopes to do the same to clinch a spot in the 2009 version.
"I'm still in 10th place in the points," said Auten, a Lake Wylie professional angler fishing in the final Southern Open tournament Oct. 16-18 on Lake Guntersville in Alabama. "I've still got a chance to get in."
The top three finishers in the three-event Southern Open series automatically qualify for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic on Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana's Red River. Auten needs a top five finish on Sunday, he estimates, to have a shot at moving up into the top three.
"I told my wife I just need to go ahead and win the thing and I won't have to worry about it," he said. "It's about time for me to win one, but we'll see."
While Auten said after the Sept. 27-28 BFL tournament on Lake Wylie that the Southern Open is "gonna be tough," fellow Bassmaster Elite angler Jason Quinn of York encouraged his hometown friend.
"He's got as good a chance as anybody," Quinn said.
Some of the anglers ahead of Auten in the Southern Open standings already qualified for the 2009 Classic, but the rules state that if an angler qualifies twice, the extra spot goes to the next angler in the Bassmaster Elite Series standings, not the next Southern Open spot. That means Auten must finish top three to advance.
"I've probably been there six or seven times over the years," Auten said of Lake Guntersville. "Actually, I've done pretty well there."
The anglers ahead of him also are strong on Lake Guntersville, he said. Hydrilla in the lake and good fishing spots make for good fishing this time of year, Auten said.
"You catch fish everywhere you go," he said. "It's just finding those good spots and catching those four and five pounders."
For more about the event, visit bassmaster.com.