Matt Arey’s not saying Guntersville’s water clarity is anywhere near that of the bottled water for sale at the lake’s iconic Waterfront Bay Grocery and Tackle store. But he will tell you it’s the clearest he’s ever seen Guntersville in his 13 years of fishing professional tournaments on the famed northeastern Alabama bass fishery.
“I fished my first pro level event here in 2007 or 2008, and I’ll promise you, I’ve never seen Guntersville this clear. There are places where you can see your lure 5-feet below the surface,” said Arey while fueling up next to Seth Feider at Waterfront Grocery after two days of practice.
The Team Toyota pro believes much of G’Ville’s newfound clarity is the result of an abundance of eel grass (Zostera) that acts as a natural filter. And while bass and their prey love living in it, Arey says it will definitely alter the typical early summer patterns fans are accustomed to seeing Elite Series pros rely on.
Arey finished third here in June of 2019 by mining a classic offshore structure spot in 17 to 20 feet of water with a 3/4-ounce football jig and a deep-diving crankbait. But he says those kinds of magical isolated spots are less of a player now because the eel grass beds offer so many top-notch stopping locations between the spawning areas and deeper creek and river channels.
“At one point today, I was offshore with a spinning reel and a drop-shot rig trying to find some deep fish in that clearer water, and Hank Cherry found it so rare and funny he stopped and took a picture of me with his cellphone,” grinned Arey.
“I’d guess only 20% of the field will focus on the classic offshore, postspawn ledge bite or isolated structure spots this week,” says Arey. “And I still think you’ll need to average 17 pounds a day to make the Top 10 cut, but you’ll see a lot of limits being caught around shallower grass on a topwater and other baits like Jamie Hartman wrecked ‘em on the final day of our 2019 event here,” concludes Arey.