GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – When it comes to fishing early spring tournaments on Lake Guntersville, there are two schools of thought: either sit still and let the fish come to you or run and gun multiple spots, plucking off fish along the way.
At the FLW EverStart Southeast event this week, there were representatives from both camps.
On day one, Robert Boyd of Russellville, Ala., sacked up a massive limit weighing 29 pounds, 3 ounces and took the lead by playing the waiting game on a well-known spot in North Sauty Creek.
On day two, high north winds blew Boyd off his spot and he had to scramble, scrape and scratch up 14 pounds to keep him in the hunt. Meanwhile, pro Casey Martin of Huntsville, Ala., played the run and gun perfectly to take the lead away from Boyd.
Going into the final day, Martin held nearly a 6-pound lead over Boyd. But at this morning’s take-off, Boyd could only smile and say, “If I can get back on that spot, I’ve got a little something for them.”
That “little something” was a 6-inch BassTrix swimbait that Boyd planned to sliver over the most well-known community hole on Lake Guntersville.
Boyd’s plan worked and 22 pounds, 11 ounces later he was named the EverStart champion with a three-day total of 66 pounds, 3 ounces worth $35,000.
Much of Boyd’s hole-camping game plan resulted from shoulder and wrist injuries that prevent him from winding and grinding a rattle bait all day.
“I had some other good fish going in other areas,” Boyd said. “But when my shoulder went to really hurting on Wednesday afternoon, I figured it would be best for me to see if I could get on that spot and just stay.”
That spot just happens to be where well-known pro David Fritts won a FLW event several years ago. It sits at the bridge over the mouth of North Sauty Creek and features a “magical rock” in 14 feet of water that hundreds of Guntersville bass use to stage on every spring. The only problem is everyone who fishes Guntersville regularly knows where it is and has beat it to a pulp with every lure in the tacklebox – except, perhaps, for a 6-inch BassTrix swimbait.
“The first day I used a DD-22 and ¾-ounce jig to catch the 29 pounds,” Boyd said. “And all along I kept thinking, if I can get on this place the last day, I’m going to slide that swimbait down around that rock for a while and see how they like it – well, they liked it – every keeper I caught today came on that swimbait.”
Davis rocks his way to second
Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., made a run at victory lane with a 21 pound, 12 ounce catch on the final day that bolstered him to second place with a three-day total of 63 pounds, 12 ounces worth $12,000.
Davis spent the week fishing rip rap with Lucky Craft RC 1.5 and 2.5 crankbaits tied to 15-pound Berkley fluorocarbon on Powell cranking rods.
He fished rip rap all over the lake, but one stretch in particular featured three key rocks that kept producing bigger fish during the event. Davis noted that keeping the boat as tight as possible to the rip rap and paralleling it with casts was critical.
“I had to hold the boat so close to the rip rap that the back end of my boat is scratched up from blowing up against the rocks,” Davis said. “But that’s the way they wanted the bait – perfectly parallel – and deflected off the boulders.”
Day-two leader Casey Martin of Huntsville, Ala., finished third with a three-day total of 63 pounds, 12 ounces worth $10,000.
Martin ran the run and gun game on Guntersville, fishing waters from 18 feet to less than a foot.
“I basically broke it down into three types of areas to match the conditions,” Martin said. “For the cold weather, I fished deep wintering areas long rock bluffs and rip rap with a MegaBass Ito 110 and a Spro McStick. I also fished a few grass flats with a Rat-L-Trap and an Excalibur Xr-50. And when it warmed up in the afternoons, I’d go to the back of some shallow pockets and throw a 3/8-ounce Omega swim jig, which produced my bigger fish.
Clark Smith, Jr., of Pell City, Ala., finished fourth with three-day total of 57 pounds, 4 ounces worth $9,300.
Smith joined the lipless rattle bait crowd in the creeks with a little different strategy. Instead of rattling the grass with hard baits like the others, he fished behind them with a ½-ounce ChatterBait, white and chartreuse in color, tied to 65-pound test braided line.
Marty Giddens of Alpine, Ala., finished fifth with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 5 ounces worth $8,000.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Guntersville:
6th: Yancy Windham of Reform, Ala., three-day total of 53-9, $7000
7th: Chad Prough of Chipley, Fla., three-day total of 53-5, $6,000
8th: Brandon McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., three-day total of 50-12, $5,000
9th: Arnie Lane of Lakeland, Fla., three-day total of 49-11, $4,000
10th: Rick Williams of Decatur, Ala., three-day total of 46-12, $3000
The next FLW EverStart Southeast event will be held April 28-30 at Lake Eufaula in Alabama.