What's at stake: $673,150 in cash to the top 50 Elite pros and valuable points towards qualifying in the CITGO Bassmaster Majors, CITGO Bassmaster Classic and the race for the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year award. The top 25 co-anglers compete for $115,400 in cash and merchandise.
Telecast: The "Southern Challenge presented by Berkley" will be aired on The CITGO Bassmasters April 29 at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
The pros said it
"I think the fish are in a post-spawn pattern. To win, you're going to have to do a little bit of everything — sight-fishing, grass and a little bit of ledges. I don't think there's any one way to win this tournament. I think 75 to 85 pounds will be close to a winning weight. I was a little worried before we got here, but I think my record is going to be ok." — Preston Clark , 41,Palatka, Fla., Santee-Cooper Showdown winner and the new record holder for the four-day heaviest catch in a BASS tournament.
"I we'll see a lot of post-spawn fish. You'll see bedding fish the first two days and then a lot of top-water fish caught the last two days. For me, I'm going to have to cover a lot of water. I haven't found just one single area to catch five fish. They're biting, it's just hard to get them in a concentration." — Fred Roumbanis, 27, Auburn, Calif.
"It's going to be a spawn and post-spawn bite and there should be pretty good weights. The caliber of fish here are good, but we just didn't hit it like we did in Santee. I think we will have weights similar to what we saw at Sam Rayburn. We've also had some exceptional heat and if it's looking to cool off, it might be a positive thing." — Dave Wolak, 29, Warrior Run, Pa., 2005 Toyota Rookie of the Year and 44th on the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index.
"It's definitely going to be a reaction bite. You'll see any type of shad-type reaction baits and Carolina rigs. A lot of the bigger females are gone. You will find them in clumps of two to five and then you've got to find feeding fish. It's still going to be a slug fest because there are still a lot of post-spawn fish feedings." — Vince Hurtado, 33, Waterford, Calif.
"I'm seeing a lot of bucks up bedding, but I've only spotted two females and they're not very big. I think we're a week or two late. I've seen a lot of them but they are all 2 to 3-pounders. Somebody's going to catch them, but I'm not excited yet." — Steve Kennedy, 37, Auburn, Ala., current leader in the Toyota Rookie of the Year standings and sixth in the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings.
Clark: Clark plans to use a variety of patterns to catch his limit and go junk fishing. He's located a few spawning fish he plans to catch the first day, and then will work his way around the lake, choosing his pattern based on location. He may throw a Carolina rig in water 20 feet deep or a spinnerbait in water three feet or less.
Roumbanis: Roumbanis plans to throw top-water lures over shallow grassy areas in water three feet deep.
Wolak: He plans to initially go after a few bedding fish he's located and will then zero in on fish using soft plastics around grass. He plans to slow down his fishing for the typical post-spawn pattern.
Hurtado: Hurtado plans to visit 10 to 15 spots that he's found and rotate between them each tournament day. This technique should put him on some bass, he said.
Kennedy: Kennedy is looking for bedding fish first and then plans to throw top-water lures and fish around docks. He doesn't feel it will be difficult to catch a limit, but it will be difficult to get quality bites.
Location and field
Southern Challenge presented by Berkley - CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series
105 pros, 105 co-anglers
Cut to top 50 after Day 2
Cut to Elite 12 pro anglers after Day 3
Top of the River Restaurant
7004 Val Monte Drive
Guntersville, Ala. 35967
Guntersville High School
14227 Hwy 431
Guntersville, Ala. 35967