February 28, 2013 by Rob Newell
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - It's been 16 months since the Alabama Rig exploded on Lake Guntersville creating a bass fishing lure frenzy like never before.
With the EverStart Series Southeast event beginning this morning, the stage is set for yet another Alabama Rig runaway event. In fact, it looks as if Alabama Rig ver. 2.0 is even bigger and badder.
"Check this out," laughed EverStart pro Randall Tharp as he unveiled a new version of the Alabama Rig that features - you guessed it - more swimbaits than ever before.
"I call it the `niner,'" he chuckled. "Nice, huh? It now has nine swimbaits on it. Is this the future of fishing on Guntersville? Really?"
"What's next?" Tharp asked. "The fifteen-er? And you know what comes after that? The twenty-er. Then the twenty-fiv-er? Where's it going to end? I can't wait to find out because when it comes to creating schools of shad, the more the merrier. And once you throw one with nine on it, it looks so good, you can't go back to five. And I'm sure once someone figures out how to put twenty swimmers on wires, nine will look like peanuts."
Tharp's rig is not a joke. Indeed, Mann's has introduced the Alabama Rig V, which features four "teasers," without hooks, rigged on the inside of the original five bodies with hooks for a total of nine swimming bodies.
But what may actually slow the A-rig A-rama down this week is mother nature.
Heavy rains on Monday have turned Lake Guntersville in to a mud pit. Water visibly on the main channel has been reduced to nothing and strong west winds on Wednesday helped spread the mud around.
Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., believes the excess muddy water is going to put a dent in what was expected to be a serious umbrella rig beatdown.
"If conditions were like what they were five or six days ago, there's no doubt it would have been dominant," Martin said. "You could pull up out there on the river channel and go to work on them with an umbrella rig. But now, it's different. The lake is backing up with cold, muddy water and with that the chances of sitting out on the channel and whacking 30 pounds on the rig has diminished."
The question now becomes how fast can the mud be pulled through Guntersville? How long will the lake take to clear itself?
"Normally it only takes a couple of days," Martin said. "But the hard west wind yesterday really kept that from happening. Don't get me wrong, I have one (umbrella rig) tied on, but it will not be my primary deal as long as the water is muddy. I actually plan to use a lot of different lures in a lot of different places today."
This morning a northwest wind was still howling at about 22 mph helping drive the wind chill down to about 27 degrees. Ironically, today is actually supposed to be the warmest day of the event with a predicted high of 45 degrees. After that, it's all down hill with a high of 37 degrees for Saturday.
Tharp agrees that the muddy water will hinder the full potential of the A-rig bite, but he is still convinced there is going to be plenty of fish caught on it.
"This lake is the birth place of the Alabama Rig," Tharp reasoned. "It's one lake where they bite it all year long and everyone knows it. It's crazy. I'm not a fan of that style of fishing, but I can't stand around and get run over by it. And as long as no one is going to limit how many lures we can put on it, we might as well keep adding them on. Heck, by tomorrow I might hook two of the `niners' together and go with 18 swimbaits."
Anglers will take off from Lake Guntersville State Park located at 7966 Alabama Hwy. 227 in Guntersville, Ala., at 7 a.m. each day. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will be held at the take off site beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Walmart located at 11697 U.S. Hwy. 431 in Guntersville beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Temperature at takeoff: 36 degrees
Expected high temperature: 45 degrees
Water temperature: 45 degrees
Wind: NW 20 mph
Day's outlook: cold and blustery