EUFAULA, Ala. – Part of being a successful professional angler is knowing when to gamble, and just as importantly, when to hold up and make the most of what you have right in front of you. In high-stakes bass tournaments, that decision making ability is every bit as important as superb casting skills.
Today, Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., proved that he has that critical decision making ability by staying put on Lake Eufaula to win the EverStart Series Southeast event.
After making huge gambles the first two days and running some 200 miles round trip per day all the way to Lake Seminole to amass a 10-pound lead going into the final day, Canterbury wisely decided to bide his time in Eufaula today and catch more than what he needed to win without risking it all in a third trip through two locks and across three state lines.
“It feels awesome; it’s been a long time coming,” said Canterbury after receiving his first EverStart trophy. “Just to get a win at this level, it’s what I’ve always wanted. I’ve been staying on the water as much as possible lately, fishing every chance I get around home and it really helps to stay in tune with everything going on out on the water. These sponsors like Straight Talk coming aboard have taken the financial stress off and really allowed me to be on the water a lot more; I can’t thank them enough. The fire is burning in me now like it never has before – I’m going to Guntersville Tuesday just to keep fishing.”
According to Canterbury, the reason he picked Seminole over Eufaula in the first place had to do with comparison shopping. In his opinion, Seminole is currently much healthier than Eufaula.
“Something is just not right with Eufaula right now,” Canterbury said. “I fished a BFL down here a couple of weeks ago and Ryan Ingram won it with only 17 pounds and something. And that’s the way Eufaula has been all year. When Ryan Ingram can only catch 17 to 18 pounds down here in the spring, there’s something wrong with the lake, not the fisherman, because he’s as good as they get on this pond.”
Meanwhile, Canterbury knew tournament weights at Seminole had been off the charts, with multiple 20-plus pound limits coming in regularly. In fact, he fished a local team event on Seminole last Saturday and finished second.
“I looked at the winning weights coming from Eufaula and the winning weights at Seminole and there was no comparison,” Canterbury said. “You’ve got 25’s and 26’s coming out of Seminole and only 17’s and 18’s coming out of here.”
Canterbury liked what he saw at Seminole: plush grass already growing out to 8 feet; hungry, healthy post-spawn bass coming out to those grass edges; and most notably, a terrific shad spawn in the grass. Given that, he figured it was worth the gamble to spend over half his tournament days riding the Chattahoochee River 100 to 120 miles one way to Seminole, giving himself just three hours per day to fish.
During the week, Canterbury relied on a variety of lures to get his work done. On the first day, he tapped into a shad-spawn bite in Seminoles grass with a ½-ounce B&M spinnerbait and a buzzbait.
On day two, he missed the shad spawn due to high skies and went to ripping a Jackall Muscle 10 crankbait in the grass on 10-pound test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line as well as a Berkley 10-inch PowerWorm (plum) tied to 17-pound test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.
Today, he planned to fish Eufaula for about 30 minutes before making his big decision on the long run to Seminole. But he never really had to make that decision. In the first 15 minutes of the day, he boated a limit on Eufaula weighing 7 or 8 pounds and giving him the confidence to stay put and cull up.
“I had a 10 pound lead and once I caught that limit, I knew (Ryan) Ingram would need at least 17 pounds to catch me,” Canterbury calculated. “So I figured I would just run some on my old stuff right here in Eufaula and get it done.”
And get it done, he did. After collecting a limit on squarebill crankbait, Canterbury culled up with two sight-fish he caught off the bed on a Jackall Sasuteki craw. From there, he went out deep with a worm and improved his creel yet again.
By day’s end, Canterbury caught the day’s best weight, 14 pounds, 5 ounces, off of a stingy Lake Eufaula for a three-day total of 55 pounds, 15 ounces, helping put to bed any notions that he had to rely solely on Seminole for his win, and proving that no matter where he fishes right now, Scott Canterbury is catching bass.
Ryan Ingram of Phenix City, Ala., finished second with a three-day total of 44 pounds, 6 ounces worth $11,688.
Ingram has fished a total of four EverStart events on Lake Eufaula. He has won one and finished runner-up in the other three.
Ingram spent the week fishing the Cowikee Creek area with a Strikezone Lures perfect jig in ¼- and ½-ounce sizes (bluegill) teamed with a Perfect Jig green pumpkin trailer.
He targeted stumps on shallow ridges out in the lake in about 2 to 3 feet of water.
Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., rallied to the third place spot with a closing effort of 13 pounds, 1 ounce for a three-day total of 37 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,740.
Davis spent the week far up the Chattahoochee River fishing a shad spawn in the cooler waters of the river.
His primary lures included a ½-ounce B&M spinnerbait with a single #6 Colorado blade when the water was muddy and 6-inch Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait with a weighted head when the water cleared up.
JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., finished fourth with a three-day total of 36 pounds, 5 ounces worth $8,766.
Kenney spent the week grinding ledges in 12 to 14 feet of water that he found on his Lowrance StructureScan unit.
“That StructureScan is unbelievable,” Kenney said. “I found four places between the causeway and White Oak Creek that had hard bottom with some monster stumps – and you could see them plain as day on that Lowrance.”
Kenney’s primary lure on day two was a Strike King 6XD in ghost sexy shad. But today he had to go to a Carolina rig with a Gambler finesse worm.
“Yesterday I could get those fish to react by smashing that 6XD through there and creating a reaction bite, but today they would just nip at it,” Kenney said. “I think the biggest difference was the current. Yesterday, the current was rolling pretty good – you could see it on the buoys; today it was nonexistent.”
Clayton Batts of Macon, Ga., rounded out the top five with a three day total of 33 pounds, 7 ounces worth $7,792.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Eufaula:
6th: Monte Knight of Quitman, Miss., three-day total of 31-13, $6,818
7th: Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., three-day total of 31-8, $5,844
8th: Troy Gibson of Eufaula, Ala., three-day total of 31-4, $4,870
9th: Jason Lambert of Pickwick Dam, Tenn., three-day total of 29-5, $3,896
10th: Curt McGuire of Paris, Tenn., three -day total of 28-3, $2,922
The fourth and final EverStart Southeast Division will be held on Pickwick Lake June 9-11, 2011.