GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Records will fall on Guntersville this weekend as 112 teams get set for the opening event of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. Fishing has never been better on the famed Alabama reservoir and everything is pointing to a college-style smackdown.
From local teams like Auburn University and Calhoun Community College to road-weary schools like St. Ambrose University and former national champion Arkansas Tech, every angler has sights of a monster early-spring largemouth on their minds heading into the first day of competition.
“The water is rising and the warm rain coming in is making the fishing really good,” said Joey Ford of Calhoun. “The Alabama rig will probably come into play and it should take at least 25 pounds a day to win this event.”
Even with no practice, Ford seemed confident his local advantage would help keep him in contention at the two-day event. At stake for all the schools is a berth in the National Championship and from there, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. All two-person teams will fish for a full two days, with the heaviest cumulative weight taking the first-place trophy and a lion’s share of the $7,000 in cash and prizes.
Despite the Alabama rig craze sweeping the Tennessee River area over the past several months, Dustin Connell of Alabama University didn’t anticipate the lure being a factor in his strategy.
“It’s more of area-specific type deal rather than what bait you’re throwing,” Connell said. “The grass isn’t what it typically is out here and the fish are in transition to shallow water, making the fish stage in key places.”
The “what” and “where” are always critical decisions for teams to consider, but making adjustments to uncontrollable factors will be crucial. Weather is one of those many factors, influencing much of what goes into a tournament strategy and how a team attacks a body of water.
Jordan Lee from Auburn University won a BFL event on the lake last weekend. When asked how the change in weather conditions would affect the game plan for him and teammate Shane Powell, he was quick to admit he was on the hunt for new areas.
“Last weekend was post frontal conditions and this weekend with the full moon it could get tougher than what some people might expect,” Lee said. “We are having to target transitioning fish and when they’re on the move they can be difficult to pattern. I covered a lot of new water today so I’m not really sure what I can do in the tournament.”
Spring fishing on Lake Guntersville can be an experience of a lifetime, and there is anticipation for big bags to be a regular occurrence as numerous teams are quoting that it will take 25 pounds or more per day to win the event. Records will fall from the minute the first boat launches in the morning. To keep up to date on the action be sure to stay tuned online. Follow the live leaderboard, updated photo galleries, as well as interviews and on-the-water footage from BASSCam.