DiPalma’s destiny

The bass fishing always seems to be good at Guntersville. Fact is, there’s a derby on the lake nearly 365 days a year — if there was ever a lake where a turn signal on a bass boat would be helpful, Guntersville is it. This week the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will take place on one of the greatest tournament lakes in the country; be prepared for some impressive limits of bass to hit the official B.A.S.S. scales in Birmingham this week.

Despite the seemingly epic fishing pressure it sustains day in and day out, the lake remains a productive bass fishery. Not many — if any — other lakes have been able to endure that kind of pressure, yet still be good. But Guntersville does.

Don’t be fooled, however, it’s no gimme.

It takes a talented angler to consistently stay on the big fish and push the 20-pound mark during a single- or multi-day event. It’s a challenging fishery, despite the numbers of big fish you often see and hear about. As the saying goes, someone always find the big fish.

It’s a legendary body of water for good reason. There are some giant fish that live there. It’s unlikely that a tournament will weigh in without at least one or more 8-pounder, or bigger.

For New Jersey angler Greg DiPalma, it fishes a lot like the rivers and lakes he grew up on.

“I’m comfortable fishing at Guntersville,” he said. “I especially like that for the most part, and throughout much of the year, you can go catch them however you want to. Not many places are like that. Having the Classic at Guntersville makes it that much more exciting, I think. I promise you there are going to be some big bags brought in this week.”

DiPalma wrapped up his rookie season on the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series with a strong 39th place in Bassmaster Angler of the Year points. He also finished sixth out of 18 in the Rookie of the Year race, cementing his place in the 2020 Classic.

“I know it gets said a lot, but I’m living my dream. I love every minute of this, and being here at the Classic adds an exclamation point to my first year,” he said. “I literally can’t get enough of this, and I thrive on the pressure that comes during this week. I love it. I was driving to Alabama last week, and I was overcome with goosebumps. It literally makes me emotional to realize where I’m at and what I’m doing.”

The greatest bass tournament in history brings with it expectations beyond tangling with big angry bass and gleaming stage lights. There are sponsor obligations, media expectations, meet-and-greets with fans, you name it. And DiPalma is embracing it.

“This is literally why I was put on earth. Knowing that gives me confidence to deal with everything as it comes, and still hit the lake on Friday with one goal in mind. To win,” he said. “I’m having a lot of fun.”

The weather and lake levels will be discussed at nauseum this week, but that makes sense considering how saturated Alabama is right now. The region is wet, and the rain seems to continue. However, the three days of Classic competition look to be clear skies and sunny. Perfect if you’re watching the tournament unfold from the water, or shooting photos of the competitors, but for the anglers it throws a wrench in things.