JASPER, Ala. — Lewis Smith Lake’s bass profile is typical of many man-made impoundments in the middle South.
Spotted bass thrive in the lower portion of many lakes from northern Alabama to North Carolina. Clear, deep water and immense schools of shad support prolific populations of spotted bass. They all but relegate the ranks of the largemouth to the headwaters. The clear water turns dingy. The depth rises closer to the surface. And the laydowns and structure largemouth prefer is more available.
This dual personality of bass populations presents a conundrum for a tournament angler. Do you fish the numbers game for spotted bass? Make the long run for the quality largemouth bite? Or gamble on a mixed bag of both?
Those are questions facing a national field of anglers competing in the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #3 on Smith Lake.
Gerald Swindle’s tactical approach is simple when deciding between largemouth and spotted bass. Choose one and don’t look back. The restraints of time pose too great a risk for sustaining a tournament winning game plan.
“You spread yourself too thin in a tournament like this if you try and spend 50 percent of your time on largemouth, then the rest of the day trying to catch spots,” he said. “When you go back and forth, you burn time and confuse yourself.”
The Bassmaster Elite Series pro rarely sees Smith Lake even though it’s a half-hour drive from his home. Swindle spends most of his time on the Tournament Trail chasing largemouth. That’s why he’ll target them in this tournament.