Lunker Lessons from Lake Guntersville

"I was targeting big bass when I caught her," says the Dearborn, Mich., professional guide ("I'd had a big blowup in the same area during practice. I thought that bass looked big but, of course, you never know until you get them in the boat. Anyway, I had the area marked for big bass potential."Gostenik's area was a point made from matted milfoil grass along the main river channel.

 "In practice we weren't getting many bites there, but the ones we got were quality. After catching a limit early that morning — Day 2 — I decided to go there and see if I could catch something that would push my weight up. I'd only weighed in about 13 pounds the first day. I knew I needed a heavy bag the second day if I was going to make a check."

The trick to making the big one bite, according to Gostenik, was technique. Like many of the successful anglers in this tournament, he was throwing a black Spro Dean Rojas Signature Series Bronzeye Frog 65."The water was about 5 feet deep, so I wanted to work the bait slow, but still make a little commotion. I basically twitched it hard to make noise and then let it sit awhile so they could find it and look it over. The area was full of bream and shad. I'm sure that's why the bass were there."She struck the frog hard, and I knew she was a good one, but I didn't know how good until she was safely in the boat. You know, down there they come towards the boat in a wad of weeds and everything gets scooped up into the boat. It takes a minute or two to sort it all out and find out what you have."My partner in the back of the boat caught a 5-pounder doing essentially the same thing about 10 minutes before I caught the 8-pounder. Obviously, we had the right spot, the right lure and the right technique for the heavyweights — for that day, anyway."

 Gostenik threw his frog with a 7-foot, 2-inch All Star ASR Series medium-heavy Frog Rod and a Pflueger Supreme reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) spooled with 65-pound-test Stren Super Braid line.As an interesting side note, Gostenik roomed with Greg Pugh and Chris Ludwig. The men had never met before but were introduced through a mutual friend in Cincinnati who owns a house on Guntersville. All three men earned big bass honors during the event — Pugh on the first day, Gostenik on the second day and Ludwig on the final day. And all three men caught their giants with frogs.