AUM busts big bag

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Carhartt College Series records are in jeopardy after Day One of the South Super Regional on Lake Guntersville. Leading the big bass parade was Auburn Montgomery’s Tyler Strock and Dalton Darnell with 28 pounds, 10 ounces.

“This is not a feeling that you can describe,” Strock said. “We’re not from here and this is the first time that we have been on the lake. It’s been an unforgettable experience. Whether we bomb tomorrow or not – we’re just really excited.”

They enter the final day with a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Dillon McGee and Tanner Ellis from Bethel University, who caught 26 pounds, 14 ounces on Friday. In third, also from Bethel, was Cody Ross and Dewey Swims with 26-7. Rounding out the top five was Kyle Raymer and John Smith from Eastern Kentucky with 24-6 and Brad Rutherford and Chandler White from Young Harris College with 24-1.

Despite the many big fish crossing the scales, the glory belonged to Strock and Darnell on Day One. The duo had to overcome strong winds and mechanical issues early and lost two hours of fishing time due to the delay.

“My on-bank charger on my boat didn’t charge one of my trolling motor batteries and we were dead in the water for two hours,” Strock said. “We even tried throwing an anchor out. Ended up, my partner Dalton Darnell put an extra battery in the compartment before the tournament. I got down there and rewired everything, put the battery back in and two hours later we were ready to go.”

The Alabama rig has dominated competition on Lake Guntersville over the past several months, but Strock and Darnell went slightly against the grain. Instead, they probed deeper prespawn staging areas with big swimbaits in search of larger females.

Spring patterns always bring changing weather and this week has been no exception. Overcast skies and rain gave way to a windy bluebird day. Temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s overnight, with more clear skies ahead. Strock was still confident their pattern would hold up.

“What we are doing, the wind should not be a factor whatsoever,” Strock said. “We left a lot of fish today. There was one spot where we caught 22 pounds in 15 minutes and left, came back 3 hours later, made one cast, caught a 4.5-pounder and left. We have plenty of fish -- these places are going to replenish. It should be a fun day.”

Chasing close on their heels are Bethel’s McGee and Ellis, who found success even though they lost practice time Thursday.

“We are going to go out there like we did today and grind it out,” McGee said. “Practice day was cut short because of motor problems. I saw some stuff that looked good, like stuff I’d fish on Kentucky Lake and decided to give it a try. Within the first 30 minutes we had a 3-14 and that was the smallest fish of our day.”

McGee and Ellis took a more conventional springtime approach, chunking lipless crankbaits around grass and wood.

The tournament concludes Saturday, with the heaviest two-day total taking home the winner’s trophy and a share of $7,000 in cash and prizes. National Championship qualification will also be decided, with half the field advancing to the premier event later this year.

Rutherford and White lead in the race for the Carhartt Big Bass, with an 8-0 largemouth they caught on Day One.

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