If you’re among the crowd that thinks catching fish at Lake Guntersville during the 50th anniversary 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk is going to be easy, think again.
Just ask the vacationing anglers who go there and expect to catch a bunch of 6-pounders. Lots of quality fish live there, but it’s not a layup when it comes to loading the livewell with big fish. Those fish see a lot of pressure; they’re smarter than the average bass in other lakes.
I’m not saying the Classic pros won’t catch ‘em. It’s going to take 20-plus a day to win. But Guntersville is a dangerous place to try to make any assumption about how or where they’re gonna be caught.
Why? Because this lake is unlike any of the other lakes we fish in the Bassmaster Elite rotation.
I mean, when I look at all the events I’ve covered and the Zona shows I’ve taped there, I’ve never been able to predict what pattern or area of the lake was going to produce. The fishery is constantly changing, as in day to day, not year to year.
When the Elites have gone to other places we could tell you the top two patterns and even the section of lake that would produce the winner.
Can’t do that here.
Guntersville has so many different faces; you don’t know whether to fish bridges, flip dead grass, work bladed jigs and lipless crankbaits in grass or utilize a plethora of other techniques that can produce quality bass. They all may produce, but there’s likely only one that’s gonna get you the trophy on Sunday.
But that’s the beauty of Guntersville. So many different techniques could and will work. You will find a mix of shallow, dirty water playing as well as some grassy areas in clear water giving up fish.
Because of all of the possibilities, some Classic anglers will battle the urge to do too much. There’s always a temptation at Guntersville to run around the lake and try multiple techniques that are in play.
That strategy might work, but it’s usually a clock eater and could be the ticket to the sidelines.
Yet, you might see someone like Chris Zaldain lock a swimbait in his hands and pray for five big bites.
Anything is possible.
Another wild card at this year’s Classic is the astronomical amount of rain that region has taken on the last 30 days. Water conditions add another layer to the complexity of putting together winning patterns.
Cold fronts could be a factor, but one thing about Guntersville is its far enough south where big ones live yet far enough north that those fish are acclimated to cold fronts. So if that happens, it shouldn’t be a major deal.
Regardless of conditions anglers may face during practice, I think the best strategy is to get in a traditional area where better-than-average fish live and figure them out as the week progresses.
And remember, when Guntersville is under normal conditions it’s great. When it sucks, it’s still good.
This much I know: These guys will catch them, but who and how they will do it remains a mystery. You can pretty well count on the event making us prognosticators look like a bunch of knuckleheads.
But man, it’s sure going to be fun watching it all play out.