Menendez out with back injury

Mark Menendez, 21st, 57-5

Mark Menendez completed all three days of practice on Lake Eufaula. However, when he stepped out of his boat yesterday afternoon, he could barely walk to his truck. Long story short: Menendez is en route to the Huntsville Orthopedic Center this morning.

"It's in my lower back, most likely a blown disc," Menendez said in a phone conversation at 6 a.m. "Day before yesterday I made a cast with a crankbait and set the hook. And I thought, that didn't feel right. Then yesterday I finally got the boat seat out."

The 55-year-old veteran angler from Paducah, Ky., was hurting, but when he stepped from his boat to the dock after practice, "I almost fell down. I could hardly walk," he said.

Menendez immediately sought a chiropractor. When that treatment didn't bring much relief, Menendez knew his fishing tournament, and maybe his season, was over.

"My best friend David Hutcheson and his boys (Grant, 22, and Jack, 17) came down to get me," Menendez said. "The boys, who are like my sons, are driving my boat back. David is driving me to a 1 o'clock appointment at the Huntsville Orthopedic Center."

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Benton starting down lake

It’s goooooood to be back!

Drew Benton, a local favorite at the 2020 DeWalt Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula, began his day within supposed eyeshot of the Walter F. George dam.

I say “supposed” because it’s foggy, and you can’t see the dam yet, but we’re probably a half-mile up on the Georgia side.

While this lake isn’t his home lake, it’s close. He built his career in Seminole, which is the next impoundment below Eufaula. So he knows Chattahoochee largemouth.

Benton started out alternating between a winding bait and something vertical, but nothing yet. He just said he needs sunlight, which is coming for sure. Later this morning and for the rest of the week, the rain chances dissipate and hot sunny weather returns.

He told me last night he’s catching plenty of fish, even during the heat of the day, but he was unsure if the pattern he is on will compete on Championship Saturday.

Of course they all sandbag on is media types before things kick off, and I have no doubt Benton will catch them this week.

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Palaniuk’s flurry

Brandon Palaniuk didn’t take long to get things going. In his first couple of casts he set the hook on a 2 1/2-pounder, and then followed it up with two more keepers.

He’s currently got 6 or 7 pounds sitting in his livewell, but he’s got some work to do to catch leader Garrett Paquette.

No shoal bass this week

In addition to healthy populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, Lake Eufaula is one of the few places on earth that is home to shoal bass.

But no shoalies will be brought to the scales during this week’s DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula — and here’s why:

Shoal bass populations are considered vulnerable due to a lack of the rocky shoal-type habitat they need to reproduce.

While it’s legal to possess up to 10 shoal bass on the Georgia side of the Chattahoochee River that forms Lake Eufaula, it is illegal to possess them at all in several tributaries on the Alabama side of the river. For this reason, to avoid confusion, many tournaments held in the area simply do not allow shoal bass.

Shoal bass, which are olive green to nearly black along their backs with cream-colored bellies, are a gorgeous fish that sometimes grow to a decent size in the Chattahoochee. They always turn heads when they’re brought to the weigh-in scales.

But it won’t happen this week.

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Bassmaster is BACK!


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3 days until Eufaula Elite!

Three more days! The DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula starts Wednesday at 5:45 a.m. CT!
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Eufaula Elite only seven days away!

Only seven days until the Bassmaster Elite Series is back! The DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula starts next Wednesday.

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