LAKE GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — For the first time in a few days, rain isn't in the forecast for the anglers who took off from Lake Guntersville State Park Thursday morning for the opening round of the Southern Challenge. While the weather shouldn't pose much of a mystery, however, the fishing might.
Some anglers in this, the fifth tournament in the 2009 Elite Series, were apprehensive that after more than four inches of rain fell in northern Alabama since the weekend, muddy water in Guntersville's main arms would diminish their results. Other questions remain to be answered:
"Dirty water might even help me where I'm fishing," said the Texas angler Thursday as he waited in line for the 6 a.m. takeoff. "The water was really clear in some of the places where I'm fishing and some of the bass were a little skittish."
Rick Clunn, who won the 1976 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville, is another fisherman who downplays the effects of dingy water. Though he thinks that the predicting the winning stringer is a fool's game considering the changing conditions, the lake will still live up to its billing and produce good catches.
"This lake is such a remarkable bass fishery that it's almost weatherproof," says Clunn, who, along with Rowland, has won two B.A.S.S. tournaments on Guntersville. "The only time that it hasn't been awesome was back in the 90s when the TVA decided it was going to kill all the vegetation in the lake. Thanks to B.A.S.S. and others, that didn't last long and since then the fishing has only gotten better. We'll do okay."
As the anglers left the dock Thursday morning, about half the boats headed toward Nickajack Dam in the more riverine portion of the lake, while most of the remainder ran down toward the milfoil flats and broad points where feeder creeks meet the Tennessee River. Current being a major activator, the fishermen who went upstream hold an advantage, but they also will have to contend with muddy water. The anglers fishing the flats and ledges downstream have a strong post-spawn pattern going for them, but bass could relocate or be positioned differently relative to increased current.
More questions to be answered, beginning with the opening-round weigh-in that starts at 5 p.m. ET at Lake Guntersville State Park.
"We'll see; everything seems to be working right now," observed Jones. "Everybody loves Lake Guntersville on Thursday morning."