I am not sure if the Bassmaster Elite Series has ever fished a regular-season event on a fishery that, in the same year, hosted the Bassmaster Classic, but that is what the anglers will face in the next event on Lake Guntersville. Other than the location, I don’t think you can draw many parallels to this March’s Classic and what will go down in early October.
I think there are a few nuggets you can take away from Jamie Hartman’s June victory here in 2019 where most of his weight was mined from grass. Grass should be the dominant factor for the top anglers this fall.
While it may be a touch early for the full-on grass punching and frogging, they should be heading that direction, and you typically want to fish for fish that are coming to you, right?
BUCKET A: GROSS
I am not sure exactly why, but I feel like Buddy Gross is the pick this week. He is a Tennessee River expert, he has fished it extensively in all seasons and I think that will serve him well. He will be ready to have another solid event on Guntersville.
Backup plan: Scott Canterbury will be looking to get redemption after this spring’s Bassmaster Classic. Expect him to make a push with a jig and a buzzbait in his hand this fall to make some noise in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
BUCKET B: WELCHER
Kyle Welcher survived the Northern Swing; I now expect him to thrive. His strengths are punching and frogging, so expect big things from this rookie on Guntersville. He does not have a ton of experience on the Big G, but I still think he is a strong play.
Backup plan: John Cox’s new mullet should be enough to get him through to the Day 3 cut, plus he is pretty solid when he is fishing shallow grass. Not to mention, if stealth is required, he has the perfect vessel for that.
BUCKET C: KUPHALL
There is no long history of strong Tennessee River finishes on Caleb Kuphall’s resume, but I think his storied history on the Upper Mississippi will play more during this event than most would expect. Caleb launched his career plucking bass from shallow grass and is not afraid to chuck a frog all day if needed. He's little bit of a gamble in Bucket C, but I expect to be rewarded handsomely.
Backup plan: If this tournament becomes the shallow grinder that it is expected to be, Bill Lowen should be a safe Bucket C pick this week. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Lowen up towards Mud Creek doing something a little off the wall.
BUCKET D: SUMRALL
Caleb Sumrall’s becoming a very versatile angler, but his comfort zone is shallow grass and that goes back to his Louisiana roots. Caleb has done well in events that offer shallow grass, like Eufaula, and has a good track record on Guntersville. The way Caleb attacked Guntersville last June should play in this event as well.
Backup plan: Wes Logan is a young Alabamian that I talked about on my YouTube Livestream. His roots come from the Coosa River, but he has his share of tournaments on Guntersville. He won’t be lost when he hits the water, and he is a solid value pick this week.
BUCKET E: CREWS
John Crews started this year hot on the St. Johns River and at the Bassmaster Classic. From there he has been in a major rut compared to his usual standard level of performance. John is too talented to be in Bucket E at the end of the season. I think now is the time to buy low on the "Crews Missile."
Backup plan: Carl Jocumsen had a breakout first day in a November championship on Guntersville in November of 2018. If you want to the roll the dice on somebody with upside, throw your chips in on Carl and his Glide Baits.