One angler who's generated a fair amount of buzz heading into the Lake Eufaula FLW Tour is Ryan Ingram.
You won't find his name anywhere in the Angler of the Year standings because he hasn't fished a Tour event this year, or ever, but the chatter amongst other anglers this week and even locals who know the ins and outs of Eufaula indicate he's the odds-on favorite heading into the first Tour event on the Chattahoochee River impoundment since 1997.
He's the definition of a decorated local angler with a half-dozen wins at Eufaula combined in FLW and B.A.S.S. competition. The Phenix City, Ala., native paid the deposits to fish all six Tour events with the intention of only fishing the Eufaula tournament.
"I was going to fish this tournament and maybe one other one, but probably just this one," he said, "which I think they're frowning upon now."
Asked if he meant FLW or other anglers, he said, "I think it's a little bit of both, but it's per their rules. The rules say if you pay your money, you can fish one of them or all of them."
He said he should be the least of everyone's worries this week as he called his practice session "terrible," and he guesses he'd have a difficult time catching a limit if the tournament were to start today.
"Little do they know they don't have much to worry about with me," he said. "I didn't catch them at all. The water's 2 1/2 feet higher than it usually is, the water's 12 degrees cooler than it normally is and the shad are still spawning a month later than usual. I'll have been lucky to catch a limit, let alone a big limit.
"It's so far from ideal it's awful for me. I'm trying to make the fish be somewhere they're not. I'm not a good shallow-water fisherman and I don't practice that way. I guess the egg's on my face this time."
He said he'd much rather be targeting shallow ledges this time of year and maybe some brush piles, of which he's said to have planted hundreds around the lake, but that's more of an early-spring pattern.
"That's a March and April deal to win on," he said. "If the shallow fish turn on like I'm scared they are going to with the water stabilizing and the temperatures warming up and the south wind, which is always better for shallow fishing, it doesn't look good at all for me. As bad as they want me out of this tournament, I wish someone would walk down this dock right now and offer to buy me out. I'd come real cheap."