Arey moves up on Guntersville

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — Even after a solid start on Friday, North Carolina pro Matt Arey sounded less than confident heading out for Saturday’s second round of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville.

Guntersville, after all, is one of the most popular bass fishing lakes in the world — and since a Saturday in June usually means a crowded waterway, he was worried the areas he fished Friday would no longer be reachable.

His worries proved unnecessary, however, as he caught five bass that weighed 21 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead with a two-day total of 44 pounds.

“There were a lot of boats out there for sure,” Arey said. “But it seemed like a lot of locals were staying off a lot of the obvious stuff, and I was really pleased with the way things played out.

“When I was running to my first spot, I probably saw 50 locals that were already out there before we blasted off. But you could tell they were fishermen — very respectful.”

Arey’s day didn’t start well at all. At 10:30 a.m., he only had two fish that he described as “two of the smallest 15-inchers in the lake.”

But since he’s fishing ledges in 15 to 20 feet of water — and those areas tend to be hit or miss throughout the day — he didn’t panic.

“Yesterday I had all of my weight by about 10:30, and today I couldn’t get a decent bite until after 10:30,” Arey said. “Then from 10:30 until about 1:30 or 2, it was good. They turned the current on, and the fishing just got better.”

Arey’s big day put him just 9 ounces ahead of Tennessee pro Brandon Lester, who spent much of his time Saturday on the same offshore roadbed he fished for hours Friday. The area produced a Saturday limit of 21-7.