SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — Casen Wallace isn’t comfortable fishing grass lakes. That’s why the Cullman, Ala., native has never liked Lake Guntersville very much.
But with a five-bass limit measuring 96.50 inches that has him leading after Day 1 of the Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series at Lake Guntersville powered by TourneyX, Wallace may need to change his tune.
The 25-year-old anchored his bag with a 21- and a 20.75-inch largemouth, which helped him gain a .75-inch lead over second-place angler Clint Pippen.
“I tell my buddies all the time I hate this lake,” he said. “I don’t fish grass lakes very well, but it is something I have been putting a lot of time into the past six or seven months. I’m blessed to be in the situation I am today. To be leading 234 anglers, I wouldn’t even imagine I would be in the place I am now. I am very thankful.”
After a practice period where anglers saw unseasonably warm temperatures, a powerful front pushed through the area on the final practice day, bringing strong storms and wind while leaving significantly cooler temperatures and muddy water in its wake.
Wallace did not find much success where he practiced and admitted he wasn’t even sure he would catch a keeper when the day began. But on Day 1, he launched somewhere different, an area that he and some of his buddies fished before the lake went off-limits that featured milfoil, hydrilla and pad stems.
With dirty water conditions in that area today, he wasn’t feeling super confident, but one pocket changed his entire outlook.
“I woke up today expecting nothing,” Wallace said. “I went into this pocket and I kept on hearing some splashing noises. I thought it was turtles, so I didn’t think anything of it. I got back into some brush in the back of the pocket and saw there were bass chasing bait around. I threw my swimbait up there and my second cast she ate it. That was the 20-incher.”
Using an Ignite Baits 3.5 hand-poured swimbait and a 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer with the swimbait trailer, Wallace worked his way back out toward the creek channel and was able to dial-in where prespawn bass were staging.
Like most anglers, Pippen worried what the storms had done to the lake. But when he got to his spot on Day 1, he found his bass were still there and caught his total length of 95.75 by around 8 a.m.
“I was hoping they were deep enough to where (the weather) didn’t affect them, and if anything, it may have helped push some more fish into the area,” he said. “First cast I missed one. I switched from a soft plastic to a jig with braid and from there I pretty much had my limit by 7:30.”
Dylan Smith is third with 95.25 inches, followed by Daniel Lyons in fourth with 94.25 and Elite Series pro Greg DiPalma in fifth with 93.75. Will Doud-Martin from Vermont had Big Bass of the Day with a 22.75-inch largemouth he submitted just before 8:45 a.m.
The full field will return to Lake Guntersville Sunday for the final day of competition. Anglers can launch from any approved spot and will begin fishing at 6 a.m. CT. The tournament day will conclude at 2 p.m. with the awards ceremony to follow at 4 p.m. at the Goose Pond Clubhouse.
Anglers will earn points toward the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Kayak Series Angler of the Year race.
This tournament is hosted by the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce.