The Bassmaster Elite Series heads to Alabama’s Lake Guntersville April 9-12 for the Diet Mountain Dew Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville to be held out of Guntersville City Harbor.
April 2, 2015
Big Weights Expected As Elite Series Shifts To Lake Guntersville
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala — After opening the season on the Sabine River where daily limits of 14-inch keepers were impossible for some anglers to come by, the Bassmaster Elite Series pros are now headed for the land of giants, Alabama’s Lake Guntersville.
Better still, they’ll arrive at the time of year when giants are most common.
The Diet Mountain Dew Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville, scheduled for April 9-12 with daily takeoffs and weigh-ins at Guntersville City Harbor, will offer anglers a chance to attack one of the nation’s premiere fisheries under near-perfect conditions.
With water temperatures still in the low 60s, the lake’s giant female bass haven’t completed their spring spawning rituals. That means they’re still carrying eggs and the extra layers of fat they packed on during the winter months in preparation for the spawn — and that could mean fishing fans will see some gigantic fish brought to the scales during the four-day event.
“There was a 12-7 caught in a tournament here just recently,” said Chris Lane, winner of the Sabine River Elite Series event, who makes his home in Guntersville. “I would be surprised if there aren’t several fish over 10 pounds caught next week. It’s going to be that kind of tournament.”
Many anglers have been predicting a “slugfest” at Guntersville. But Lane, whose fishing vernacular includes the catchphrase “Pow!” when he catches a big bass or wins a tournament, has another word for what he believes it will be like.
“It’s gonna be a smashfest,” Lane said. “I haven’t always done well in tournaments like that, but I’m trying to learn how to deal with it. You just have to keep telling yourself that 2- and 3-pounders aren’t going to help you any. You need big fish, because 18 or 19 pounds a day might not even get you paid.”
Guntersville’s vast beds of milfoil, hydrilla and coontail grass will likely play a role as the Elite pros begin forming strategies during the official practice period Monday through Wednesday. With fish moving into shallow water for the spawn, heavy limits could be caught on a wide variety of lures.
Lane agreed with the popular assessment that it could take a four-day weight of more than 100 pounds to win. So did Casey Ashley, winner of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro held on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell in February.
Ashley said the tournament will require a different kind of discipline than the Sabine River.
“On the Sabine, we were weeding through 13 1/2-inch fish, trying to find five keepers,” Ashley said. “On Guntersville, it’ll be sort of the same deal, except we’ll be weeding through a bunch of 3-pounders trying to find five fish that are big enough to actually help us at the scales. It’s two different kinds of challenges, but they’re both tough in their own way.”
Like all B.A.S.S. events held in Alabama, the field will include a host of in-state anglers with extensive knowledge of the venue.
Lane, who lives close enough to the lake that he can have his boat in the water in just minutes, finished 36th in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and 40th in the 2010 Elite Series event on Guntersville – his two most recent events on the fishery.
Justin Lucas, who relocated to Guntersville from his native northern California, will be fishing a professional event for the first time on his new home lake.
“I’m in a pretty unique position this year,” said Lucas, who is off to an excellent start in 2015 with a ninth-place finish in the Bassmaster Classic and a 10th-place effort on the Sabine River. “I get to fish back-to-back events on my new home lake, Guntersville, and the California Delta, which is where I used to call home. Not a lot of people can say that.”
Aaron Martens, another California native who now makes his home in Leeds, Ala., has a rich history on Lake Guntersville that includes a win in the 2009 Elite Series event on the lake. He also finished 13th in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, 17th in a 2006 Elite Series event and 14th in Bassmaster Tour events in 2004 and 2005.
John Crews, a Virginia angler who finished third in the 2010 Elite Series event on Guntersville, elected not to pre-fish before the lake was declared off-limits because he already knows it so well. He expects the grass to play a big role in the outcome.
“I’ve been to Guntersville 15 times,” Crews said. “The grass changes from year to year, but that’s true of any lake with grass in it. That’s what you have to be ready for.
“I think there will be a ton of 6- to 7-pounders caught. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Launches are scheduled for 6:15 a.m. CT each day from Guntersville City Harbor with weigh-ins also set for the ramp each day at 3:15 p.m. CT. Launches and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
The local host of the event is the Marshal County CVB.