The last Southern Open is about to get underway on Smith Lake in Alabama, and it looks to be a good one.
We’ve had a lot of rain move through the area in recent days. The backwater areas, especially in the creeks, are getting a little dirty. Nevertheless, the largemouth bass are pulling up and starting to feed. I’d say the fishing for them will be pretty good this week. But don’t kid yourself. This one isn’t likely to be won on a largemouth bite.
Smith Lake is about big spots. That’s what it’s known for and that’s what it’ll produce this week, at least that’s the way I see it as of today (Tuesday). And, I’d guess that the weights will be better for this tournament than they were the last time we were here. They’ll probably start feeding and schooling up before it’s all over.
Another thing is that we can weigh 12-inch fish this time. That’s a real positive. That’ll make a big difference. It’s pretty hard to catch five big spots. If you can catch two or three of them, though, and then add a couple of little ones to the mix you can end up with a respectable bag.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has done one heck of a job managing this lake. Their efforts show. I don’t think some of the DNR agencies around the country get enough credit for what they do. Part of why we’re so successful as professional tournament anglers is that they do their job, and they do it well.
A couple of Elite Series guys just might do real well here. I’d watch Gerald Swindle and Aaron Martens. The G-Man has always done well on this lake. This trip isn’t likely to be any different. That shouldn’t surprise anybody, though. He’s one heck of a good angler, one of the best there is.
Putting Aaron Martens on any list of anglers to watch is obvious. He’s always a threat, and especially when we’re fishing deep, clear water. (That’s where most of the big, heavyweight spots will be found.) He’s death with a finesse rig. I’d have to say he may be the best finesse angler there is, or ever has been.
There’s a dark horse out there that we shouldn’t overlook, either. I don’t know who he or she is but I can tell you all about them. It’s a man or a woman who spends a lot of time fishing this lake and who has superior fishing skills. You might call him or her an amateur, a semi-professional or a professional. No matter, they know what they’re doing. They’re a threat to all of us.
The angler I’m talking about is good, seasoned and has the skills and mental temperament to win when he or she is under pressure. Don’t ever think that just because someone isn’t fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series that they aren’t good. They are, and they’ll eat your lunch if you give them half a chance.