Logan Martin to host inaugural B.A.S.S. kayak tournament Thursday

The inaugural Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia on Logan Martin Lake this week will likely be a spotted bass slugfest with the top places decided by mere fractions of an inch.

That’s the takeaway from interviewing several competitors familiar with this central Alabama fishery that will host 233 anglers in plastic boats on Thursday. Despite unrelenting rain over the winter, the 48-mile-long lake is stained but overall not too muddy and just 4 inches above winter pool. The water temperature should be in the upper 50s come game time.

Anglers will vie for part of more than $30,000 in cash, with prize money in excess of $7,000 going to first place. The Top 20 anglers, or top 20% based on field size, (whichever is larger), will qualify for the 2021 Huk B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series Championship

To learn more about how these kayak bass tournaments will be operated, read more here.

“I pre-fished the lake Feb. 15, first time on the lake, and caught 35 to 40 fish on jerkbaits and crankbaits,” said kayak tournament veteran Craig Dye of Canton, Ga. “They were chasing bait. I caught 100% spots and was around several boats that were also catching fish and never saw a largemouth caught.”

Dye is one of the anglers to watch, with numbers of impressive finishes throughout his eight years of kayak competition. These include a KBF Trail victory at Tennessee’s Old Hickory Lake and a River Bassin’ win on the Cumberland River in Kentucky, plus twice winning the Tennessee State Championship and taking a gold medal in the 2019 Pan Am tournament.

Despite the spotted bass dominance, Dye believes a couple of big largemouth bass could propel the best angler to victory. Some kayakers could also break away from the pack with larger spots — decent numbers of 21-inchers are present, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ website.

“Logan Martin has some good largemouth, but I think the spotted bass will be what everyone is going to end up with,” says kayak enthusiast Britton Boone of Prattville, Ala., who was planning his pre-fishing strategy for the contest. “It’s a numbers-kind-of-lake — it’s no Guntersville, with numbers of giant bass.”

Boone noted water temperatures were already in the upper 50s a week before the contest, with a weather forecast of a warm front and warm rain for a couple days before the event. 

“We’ve actually had a pretty warm February this year, and the water temperatures are up, but we’ve also had a ton of flooding,” noted Boone. “The Alabama Power Company has been doing a good job keeping water levels stable.”

The lake has a plethora of marked public access sites, which bodes well for spreading out the large field of contestants who can launch at any public shoreline.

Additionally, Dye points out that an up-close look at the lake with Google Earth reveals numerous launch points on public land. Anglers who do their homework have a good chance to find water void of other competitors on the 17,000-acre impoundment of the Coosa River.

The pre-tournament meeting will happen Wednesday night at the Pell City Civic Center, and the unofficial Top 10 kayakers will be announced on Friday, March 6, during the awards ceremony set to take place on the Classic stage at Birmingham’s BJCC at 3 p.m. prior to the official Classic weigh-in.

Logan Martin has 275 miles of shoreline and is sometimes called “the lake of a thousand coves,” which means anglers should be able to find protected areas if the wind blows.

Anglers should expect both spotted and largemouth bass to be in prespawn mode, although it’s possible some smaller males will be moving up to establish bedding territories. Larger females could be on the first breaks out from the spawn zones. That’s what Boone is hoping to find.

“In an ideal world I’ll catch five bass on surface lures shallow right away, then move to the breaks and target bigger fish with A-rigs and crankbaits,” he said.

“I would say they’re probably going to be prespawn” agreed Lance Coley, of Calera, Ala., who has fished tournaments with the Iron City Kayak Anglers since 2010, with annual contests on Logan Martin. “I don’t think they’ll be on the bank yet. I’m sure there will be some up there — it’s day-to-day at this point.”

Wherever they are, the bass are likely to be active this time of year.

“They’re going to be biting. This time of year is perfect timing,” said Ken Chambers, who runs Freedom Marine Center in Guntersville, Ala. A longtime bass boat competitor, he will be fishing his first ever kayak contest. “They won’t be bedding yet, but they’re going to be all over, shallow to deep.

“What’s great about this time of year, most everything you like to fish with can be productive — guys can throw whatever they have confidence in,” Chambers continued. “There’s so many ways to catch them. Some will be already up and some will be moving up.”

Chambers is another contestant who believes a big largemouth or two could be the difference-maker for the angler who wins. How would he target the larger bass?

“Jump up in the shallows and cover the laydowns and structure with a jig, spinnerbait or crankbait,” he said. “I feel like to fill a big limit you’re going to have a mixed bag.”

The million-dollar question before any kayak contest is what combined length of five bass will put anglers in the money. Dye believes that many anglers will post lengths in the 75-inch range, and that to make the Top 30 and a paycheck, it will take at least a 16-inch average and 80 inches total.

Contestant Jeremy “Gorilla” Caquelin of Harvest, Ala., who competes on the Northern Alabama Kayak Anglers, said he believes the winner will find big enough fish to push past the 100-inch mark.

“With 233 anglers, someone is going to find some big fish,” he reasoned. He and others interviewed for this article are hoping to make the Top 10 and be recognized on the Bassmaster Classic stage at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex’s Legacy Arena in Birmingham on Friday, when the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing gets underway.

“I’m just hoping to do my best and be walking across the Classic stage,” said Caquelin. “My goal is to be that guy in the Top 10.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a tournament,” commented Dye. “B.A.S.S. getting involved in kayak tournaments adds another level of legitimacy to the sport.”