The editors of Bassmaster Magazine recently announced their listing of the top 100 Best Bass Lakes in America for 2013. They chose Lake Guntersville, Ala., as No. 4, behind Lake St. Clair, Michigan; Sam Rayburn, Texas, and Clear Lake, Calif. Those are great picks and hard to dispute, but to me personally, Guntersville is No. 1 for a lot of reasons.
I was raised 45 minutes from Guntersville in the town of Cullman, and while we spent many days on Lake Catoma, Guntersville was where my mom and dad had a boat docked at a marina. It was a cruiser, not a bass boat, but it had a bed in the cuddy cabin where we’d sleep, and then spend most of our waking hours fishing from the dock.
Dad finally bought a bass boat, an old 361 Ranger, and my brother Jordan and I were allowed to fish from it inside the protected waters of what we called “the lagoon,” right next to where the big boat was docked.
Things progressed, and we gained mom and dad’s trust as the months passed. We had no clue as to how to find bass on the big lake, but mom and dad finally trusted Jordan and I to head out on Guntersville beyond the lagoon to figure it out.
When the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament came to Guntersville in April 2006, as they have so many times over the years, I guess you could say it sorta changed Jordan and my lives forever. We were able to watch Mike Iaconelli catch 71 pounds and win $101,000.
Not only was it amazing to watch a top pro like “Ike” catch so many bass from the waters we called home, but also it was amazing to see how fans treated him like a rock star, and the overall electricity that surrounded the tournament. Looking back, that was the experience that really amped-up my and Jordan’s devotion to tournament fishing.
When I started college, I was still really into baseball, but that sort of came to an end, and it just seemed like every time Jordan and I had a free moment we headed to Guntersville with the promise of catching a 5- or 6-pound largemouth on any cast, which is more a reflection of how good a fishery it is, rather than our skill sets at the time.
Jordan and I are best friends, but like most brothers we rival each other constantly (note the position of my elbow in the photo). One of us is always trying to catch a bigger limit than the other; and there’s no doubt, it’s made both of us better anglers. Once one of us gets over being mad for having caught the smaller sack of fish, we always get around to talking and figuring out what pattern or lure allowed one of us to out-catch the other. That benefits both of us.
As I finish my engineering degree at Auburn, I’m still making time to fish Guntersville as much as possible. In fact, I fished it over spring break last month with my dad, and we caught an 8-pounder and a 5-bass limit that weighed 20 pounds. And trust me, that’s not braggin’, because in reality, Guntersville is such a great fishery that a 20-pound limit won’t even win you a paycheck most days.
Guntersville is home. And when I’m done here at Auburn, I gotta be honest with you, wherever I’m fortunate enough to begin a career, or buy my first home, I’ll promise you this – it won’t be far from Lake Guntersville.