PELL CITY, Ala. — Thunder, lightning and a deluge Friday night muddied Logan Martin Lake’s already stained water.
It also raised the water level at least 2 feet and turned the tributaries feeding the lake into coffee-colored torrents.
The drastic change in conditions sent most of the pros that qualified for the Top 12 finale scrambling to find new water and fishing patterns.
The anglers who claimed the top two spots were able to catch bass using the same tactics that produced for them prior to Friday night’s monsoon.
David Kilgore of Jasper, Alabama, sacked four solid bass Saturday that brought his total to 46 pounds, 8 ounces.
It was enough to snatch victory from Elite Series Pro Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., who finished second with 40 pounds, 15 ounces.
Kilgore’s winning lure was a white 1/2-ounce Strike King Pure Poison chattering jig dressed with a white Strike King Rage Tail Craw.
“I fished docks over 10 to 15 feet of water where the shad were spawning,” Kilgore said.
All but one of the bass that Kilgore brought to the scales during the three-day tournament were fat Coosa River spots. He caught 12 to 14 keepers a day the first two days.
Saturday, only one area of the lake was clear enough for his pattern to hold up.
The win earned Kilgore $10,000, a Nitro Z-9 powered by a Mercury 225 Pro XS outboard and a berth to the 2014 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville.
Kilgore knows Guntersville well and is pumped to compete in the world championship of bass fishing.
Vinson keyed on spawning bluegills in shallow water around flooded shoreline grass. The bream beds were too deep to see, but he caught largemouth bass wherever bluegills nipped at his Texas-rigged NetBait Mini Kickin’ B craw matched with a 1/4-ounce tungsten bullet weight.
This bait and a Lobina Rico popper produced all of Vinson’s bass.
“I fished different areas every day,” Vinson said.
“Today I was lucky enough to find a place that didn’t get extremely muddy.”
Tennessee Elite Series pro David Walker started the day Saturday in third place and ended up there with a total of 40 pounds, 11 ounces.
He struggled to bag a 9-pound, 12-ounce limit due to the challenging water conditions.
“Several people asked me if the water came up today,” Walker said. “It was like a Biblical flood out there.”
Walker caught largemouth and spotted bass over the course of the tournament. His primary lures included a Koppers Frog, a Z-Man Chatterbait and a spinnerbait.
As the highest finishing owner of a Toyota Truck, Walker pocketed a $1,500 bonus.
Clarksville Tennessee’s Grayson Smith won the co-angler division, finishing with a three-bass limit that went 10 pounds, 3 ounces. His 24-pound, 1-ounce total allowed him to walk away with a certificate for a Triton 17 Pro bass boat with a Mercury 115 Pro XS motor.
Remarkably, Smith has finished in the co-angler division's Top 12 in each of the three Bassmaster Southern Opens this year. The odds are good that you’ll see Smith fishing the Bassmaster Southern Opens next year as a pro.