Derek Remitz laughs when he says he’d like to see the Bassmaster Elite Series begin each year on Watts Bar Lake and then hop-scotch down through the Tennessee River fisheries before finally finishing on Kentucky Lake.
He laughs, but he’s only half joking.
Since moving within a mile of Lake Guntersville nine years ago, the Minnesota native has made himself at home on the Tennessee River lakes – and that local knowledge has certainly shown on this year’s Elite Series with a third-place finish at Guntersville in April and a seventh-place finish at BASSfest on Kentucky Lake last week.
“I think the way I like to fish, it suits my style,” said Remitz, who also finished third in a BFL event on Guntersville two weeks ago. “I prefer to fish offshore. For me, I love looking around for schools of fish. I feel like I give myself a better chance if I’ve got 50 of them looking at my bait rather than going down the bank trying to catch one every once in a while.”
While some pros who live in the Guntersville area say they rarely get to fish the lake because of their hectic schedules, Remitz actually does some guiding on the lake during his down time. He gets at least two to three weeks there when the fishing’s best during spring and summer and much more during the fall when flipping hydrilla is the ticket.
That time on his home lake has helped him figure out the bulk of the Tennessee River system.
“All of these lakes fish pretty similar,” Remitz said. “So it helps a lot kind of knowing the little sweet spots to look for and off-the-wall stuff that schools might get on that not quite everybody knows. Everybody knows everything these days, so it’s all about trying to find something that looks like nothing – something a little bit different.”
Lakes operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority have helped Remitz to 42nd place in the Angler of the Year standings. That means he’s currently in position to make the Toyota Angler of the Year Championship on Sturgeon Bay in September and has a good chance to make his fourth appearance in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
Lake Guntersville has also been good for Remitz, even when a major tournament wasn’t being held there.
“For me, I just love getting out here, especially after a bad tournament,” said Remitz, who finished 106th and 100th on the Elite Series Western swing. “After going out West, the first day I got home, I went out fishing (on Guntersville) and caught 30-something pounds on a hair jig.
“After that, I thought, ‘OK, I still know how to catch a bass.’ It was therapeutic, a little bit of an ego massage.”
Remitz’s only career victory with B.A.S.S. came in 2007 on Lake Amistad in Texas. That $100,000 first-place prize was what allowed him to buy a house located just one mile from Lake Guntersville – and while he’s grown to love the lakes of the Tennessee River, he’s had success in other places as well.
Though he now considers himself a full-fledged Alabamian, often donning a University of Alabama crimson and white hat during competition, he says he still loves Northern smallmouth fishing. He’s looking forward to the remainder of this year’s Elite Series schedule, which includes stops on noted smallmouth hot-spots like the St. Lawrence River and Sturgeon Bay.
“One thing on my bucket list is to win a smallmouth tournament,” Remitz said. “We’ve got two more tournaments where I already feel like I have a chance to have a good finish. Then hopefully, I can figure something out at Chesapeake and make it into the Classic.
“I only wish we didn’t have a month and a half without a tournament – especially now that I have some momentum going.”