CELEBRATION, Fla. — For the 108 Bassmaster Elite Series pros, few fisheries prompt such excited anticipation as Lake Guntersville, especially in the springtime. That is the backdrop as the world's best bass anglers head to the famous Alabama fishery on April 26-29 for the Southern Challenge presented by Purolator.
The fifth stop of the 11-tournament Elite Series epitomizes the philosophy of the most visible and prestigious circuit in the world — putting the best anglers on the best lakes at the best times.
And now it's Guntersville's turn to show the world on ESPN2's The Bassmasters how many largemouth it can produce.
Consider the last four times that the highest level of BASS competition has visited the 69,100-acre Tennessee River impoundment:
• 2006 — 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Michael Iaconelli won the Elite Series event with 71 pounds, 13 ounces.
• 2005 — Texan Zell Rowland won with 87 pounds.
• 2004 — George Cochran's winning weight was nearly 100 pounds. The two-time Bassmaster Classic champ posted a four-day total of 99 pounds, 10ounces.
• 2002 — Texan Kelly Jordon won with 83 pounds, 11 ounces.
The Elite Series pros from Alabama are expecting nothing less this time around.
"I think it will take 20 to 22 pounds a day to win at Guntersville," said Timmy Horton of Muscle Shoals. "There will be a lot of big limits brought in."
Fellow Elite pro Jimmy Mason of Rogersville, agreed.
"We're going to hit it at a time period when an angler can catch fish any way they want to. It should be a great tournament," said Mason, who also works as a guide on the lake.
The Alabama pros also said that the Elite anglers will find bass in different biological modes, primarily spawning and post-spawn. That was the situation during the same week in April last year when Iaconelli won the Southern Challenge presented by Berkley with two techniques.
The 2003 Classic champion sight-fished for bedding bass and moved to deeper grassbeds to tempt fish that had just finished spawning.
There will be both pre-spawn and post-spawn fish," Horton said. "Anytime you go to a lake that's full of bass like Guntersville, they spawn from March through
"It will be one of those neat tournaments where a number of techniques will come into play," Horton said. "Topwater fish in the morning will be productive and deep crankbait fish will be another choice for many anglers. A lot will look to sight-fish. There will be a little bit of everything going on."
In addition to the $100,000 top prize and gaining valuable mid-season points toward the coveted 2008 Bassmaster Classic, the Elite Pros will be earning points towards the 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
Daily weigh-ins take place at Guntersville High School at 3 p.m. CT. Anglers will launch from the Top of the River beginning at 6:50 a.m. CT.
Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide and Costa Del Mar.