2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro
Lake Guntersville - Birmingham, AL, Feb 21 - 23, 2014

The Importance of Practice Day 2014

Another factor that might favor Browning is the lack of aquatic vegetation in Lake Guntersville. There's still a significant amount, but much of the usual salad has been knocked back by the unusually cold winter.

That's standard fair for Browning. His home state's more northerly location makes Guntersville look typical to him for February fishing, just like it is in Arkansas' Lake Ouachita, Lake DeGray and the Arkansas River.

"It looks just like it does every year back in Arkansas," Browning said.

That will be important — knowing where to find "the needle in the haystack," as Todd Faircloth put it. The Jasper, Texas, native doesn't see the winter die-off of aquatic vegetation in his home state, but there may not be a better grass fisherman than Faircloth in this tournament.

"That's my comfort zone, fishing the grass," Faircloth said. "But it might be a hard spot in the middle of the grass where the fish are holding."

Hence, the needle in the haystack.

You've got anglers in this field who will stay away from Guntersville's limited grass and the crowds it's likely to draw.

"A guy who concentrates on the hard structure — the stumps, the rocks, the road beds — might win this because he'll have those fish to himself," Ish Monroe said.

Mark Davis doesn't agree, saying, "On a grass lake, the fish tend to migrate to those areas that have good grass. It's not rocket science. It's a pretty simple equation."

No one will argue with Monroe's assessment of the tournament, which he made on Tuesday, saying, "Everyone is going to whine after practice, then whack 'em during the tournament."

What's whacking 'em at Guntersville?

"I think it will take 78 pounds, 11 ounces to win," Monroe said with a smile. "If I catch 78-11 and don't win it, it is what it is."

"I think it will take 25 or 26 pounds a day to win it," said Davis. "This lake has got a population of fish right now that is bigger than normal. I think you'll see a lot of 8-pounders caught in this tournament."

Added Faircloth, "I think you'll have to average 25 pounds a day. But you never know. This lake is so full of big fish, 30 pounds a day isn't out of the question."

Wide open and big fish catches — if that doesn't catch your eye, well, you're probably not reading this anyway.