By Jason Duran
Alexander City, AL- The best of the best in the Alabama Bass Trail converged on Lake Martin Friday and Saturday. After two days of fishing, another team of Champions has been crowned. The team of Charlie Williams and Michael Smith led 180 other teams by almost 4 pounds to take the win and the $50,000 grand prize with a total of 28.09 pounds.
This week set up to be a great championship week with the lake providing plenty of spots for teams to fish. Many teams boasted of catching 30 or more fish a day; most of those falling in the 2.5-pound range. Teams searched hard knowing that trying to find the bites that would produce a 3-pound fish was key. A lot of teams struggled to break outside that 10-pound average bag and find the larger fish. Teams that were able to weigh in larger bags focused more on the largemouth bite than spotted bass.
On day one the team of Brain Adamson and Ryan Lloyd brought 13.70 pounds to the scales to take the lead and set the bar for all other teams to beat. With a good bite on day one many teams were able to capitalize on the topwater bite using buzz baits and frogs. Brian and Ryan said they started the day early throwing a translucent shad colored whopper plopper on sea walls that produced a couple of 3-pound spots and other keepers before going largemouth fishing. The plan for them was to come to Lake Martin and fish their strengths- shallow and primarily targeting largemouth. After day one, they felt they could have had more weight but were happy to be leading. They expected the topwater bite to get better going into day two.
Conditions drastically changed on day two when anglers blasted off at daybreak to storms moving into the area early and continuing throughout the day. There were periods of very heavy rainfall and lightning flashing in the area. Brian and Ryan said, “on day two the topwater bite completely went away when the lightning started, so we had to scramble. We didn’t have a fish for the first two or three hours.” Because they target largemouth, they caught fewer fish but caught better fish. On day one they caught about ten fish, and on day two they caught six. They finished with a two-day total of 24.17 pounds to claim second place.
The champions, Charlie and Michael, said the key to them winning was having a good plan. The plan both days was to “start out fishing for spots, get five and then go largemouth fishing.” They shared, “We knew it was key to get those one or two largemouth bites and wanted to give as much time as possible to produce those bites. We felt like we could slow down and fish for largemouth once we had a limit of spots in the box.”
Their primary area was Kowaliga Creek. In practice, they found a stump row out in the middle of the creek in about 3 feet of water that no one else was fishing. They spent lots of time studying maps trying to find more areas similar to that stump row. When they fished that stump row, they first used a Zara Super Spook and tried to get them to bite. However, it ended up the fish wanted a more subtle presentation on day two, so they used a Big Bites Stick bait in Green Pumpkin Blue Flake Wacky Rigged on a homemade jig head.
On day 2, they weighed in the largest bag of the tournament at 15.29 pounds anchored with two largemouths weighing 4.6 and 4.82 pounds. They both agree that was what signed the check for them bringing their two-day total weight to 28.09 pounds and giving them enough to take home the trophy and the prize money. The key baits that worked best on day two were the Big Bites Stick bait and a Buckeye ¼oz double-bladed buzz bait with a white Big Bites unnamed trailer and 1.0 KVD Crankbait in Shad Pattern.
Third place team of Bradley Jones and Broox Goza fished day one using swimming baits and topwater. They said they caught a pile of 1.5 - 1.75-pound fish. They found these fish in practice in a creek fishing shallow 3-5 feet on a 400 yard stretch of wooded cover and creek bends. For two days they weighed in 9 largemouth and 1 spotted bass. They said if they caught spotted bass it was a mistake. They shared, “on day two when the conditions changed, we noticed the creek began to have a little flow around 8:30 am and about 9:30 am, the water started to stain up. About that time Broox was swimming a jig down a lay down tree and felt a bite. He sat down in the boat to put a trailer back on his jig. Bradley flipped a soft plastic lizard into the tree and said, “one just about took the rod out of my hand!” Broox tried to move the boat and stirred up the water around the tree about that time Bradley set the hook and landed a 6.01 pounds largemouth- the biggest fish of the event. They both said they were so surprised how close that fish bit to the boat. Key baits for their third-place weight of 23.32 pounds were primarily moving baits like a white ½ oz. Chatter Baits and topwater Frogs.
Charlie and Michael took home $50,000 in prize money along with a $7000 Phoenix Bass Boats contingency for a total of $57,000. The crowd at the weigh-in could hear Charlie shout loud that it was $57,000 and not just $50,000… he wanted everyone to know he was claiming that Phoenix First Flight money and was proud to be fishing from his new Phoenix Boat.
This concludes the Alabama Bass Trail 2020 Season. The top 13 teams from each division will fish the BASS Team Championship December 9-12 at the Harris Chain with the hopes to be the one team to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.
For full results, click here.