By Jason Duran
Decatur, AL - The team of Chris Brittain and Eric Springer was first in line when the scales opened at Ingalls Harbor. They dropped 21.84 pounds on the scales setting the bar high for the other 224 teams. At the close of the scales, no team came within three pounds of them. They took home the win and $10,000 on Wheeler Lake.
Fishing up the Elk River in pre-practice on Monday, Eric located a group of fish, and, in about one and a half hours, he caught a 5.41 and a 3.99. He called Chis and said, “They are here!” Storms and changing conditions caused them to wonder all week if the fish would still be around come tournament day.
On Saturday, the plan was to head to Eric’s spot in the hopes the fish were still there. As they were fishing and working their way to the spot, they kept telling each other the same thing they said all week, “man, they are going to be here.” Chris made the first cast on the spot and caught a 3-pound fish. Two casts later, he caught a 5.51 pounder, and Eric followed up with a 4.65 pounder. There was a 10-minute span where they didn’t get a bite, so they decided to let it rest a little and fish close by. They came back 20 minutes later and caught a 5.35-pound fish. Chris quickly realized, “we are on our way today!” About 10 minutes later Eric caught another 3-pound fish. It was over after that because they didn’t get another bite after 9 am.
The team agrees “Wheeler has been really tough and normally the fishing here is better at night this time of year.” They worked hard to take good care of their fish making sure to protect their catch. They headed back early as soon as the scales opened to be sure and put a healthy bag of fish on the scale.
Brittain and Springer described the spot as a sandbar with a hole ranging from 5 to 8 feet. They said the fish stayed in the 5 feet range early, and they were able to catch them on two baits. They used a Zoom Ultra Vibe green pumpkin Texas rig and fished on the bottom slow. This is the same bait Eric used in practice to find the fish. Chris added a Mean Mouth ½ oz. football jig in green pumpkin with a Zoom Speed Craw green pumpkin trailer. This was the bait Chris caught the big fish on.
The second-place team of Chad Sykes and Michael Briggs made a short run to the Decatur Flats and quickly went to work. The team said they “had a limit and were culling before blast-off was completed.” Michael said he “has fished this spot for about 15 years with a lot of good days on there, but this was by far his best tournament day on the spot.” Chad said they “practiced separately and he was really thinking it was going to be a tough day based on practice, but it was really a fun few minutes in the morning. The rest of the day went just like practice with no bite after 6 am.” They used a Bone Zara Spook on a 7-foot hammer rod and Lew’s Reel.
Alan Barrett and Tyler Caldwell finished third with 18.36. They too made a quick run expecting to catch them early fishing the flats using topwater and swimbaits. That first stop was not productive for them as “they just couldn’t get them to bite.” After a few hours, they decided to make a move. Alan also said they “knew they had to get a limit if they were even going to have a chance.” They moved out to a river ledge and were able to get a 14-incher to bite. They agreed that the fishing was really tough out there, so they decided to move back to their first spot and fish the grass edges. Alan said, “Tyler is really good at finessing the fish to bite,” and that was the plan they stuck with the rest of the day. Alan and Tyler targeted the grass edge mixed in with stumps using a Ned Rig composed of a 3/16 oz. Z-Man Shroomz Head and a Z-man TRD Finesse in Green Pumpkin. Alan said a “couple times during the day they had their hearts broken when they hooked a drum thinking they had hooked a big smallmouth.” They only lost one fish, probably a 3 pounder, that could have made weigh-in a little more interesting. They were very surprised to see their weight hold for a solid third place.
The top ten standings are below for a full list of results visit: https://www.alabamabasstrail.org/tournament-series/wl-results/
Download and listen to the ABT Podcast on your favorite Podcast app by searching for “Alabama Bass Trail Podcast.” The Podcast is released each week on Tuesday.
The sponsors of the 2020 Alabama Bass Trail include; Phoenix Bass Boats, Bill Penney Toyota, Garmin, Academy Sports & Outdoors, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Sweet Home Alabama, Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, T-H Marine Supplies, Wedowee Marine, Strike King, Buffalo Rock, Mountain Dew, Jack’s, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Alabama Power Company, Lew’s Fishing, Berkley, YETI, Power Pole, Big Bite Bait Company, E3 Apparel and Hydrowave.
For information about Alabama Bass Trail and for complete tournament standings visit www.alabamabasstrail.org.