February 28, 2013 by Rob Newell
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - Amazing. Mind-boggling. Incredible. Unreal. Surreal. Use any adjective you want to describe bass fishing at Lake Guntersville in Alabama and it still does not come close to emphasizing what this fishery produces day in and day out.
Despite air temperatures that hovered in the upper 30s, despite northwest winds to 20 mph producing wind chills in the upper 20s, despite water temperatures in the 40s, big Lake Guntersville bass were still more than willing to play catch at the EverStart Series event today.
In all, 39 limits broke the 20-pound mark with seven of those limits going over 25 pounds.
And, no, it's not all due to the Alabama Rig. Indeed it played a large role in the catches today, but four of the top 10 are not throwing an umbrella, including tournament leader Chad Aaron of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., who took day-one top honors with a limit weighing 30 pounds, 6 ounces.
Aaron is a TVA ace who knows his way around the Tennessee River pretty well. He won the EverStart Championship on Wheeler Lake in 2010.
Though Aaron would not say exactly what he was using, he made it clear an Alabama Rig was not part of his day-one arsenal.
"It's not really my deal," Aaron said of the A-rig. "I mean I have one in the boat and I threw one in practice, but it's just not my style of fishing. I fished around guys who were throwing it today, but I was using other stuff."
Aaron has found that the Alabama Rig craze on Guntersville has put a lot of competitors in similar waters and, in turn, has pulled a lot of fishing pressure off of traditional areas where more conventional methods work. In a way, Aaron is fishing in the shadows of the A-rig's spotlight.
"I really had no idea I would catch that kind of weight today," he said. "I was thinking maybe 20 pounds would be a good catch for me, not 30."
Aaron said he visited numerous spots and culled seven or eight times.
"I'm running around fishing a lot of spots," he added. "And some of those places have guys throwing Alabama rigs. But I also have a few places where there is not another boat for a half a mile. And some of those places would normally be pretty crowded before the Alabama Rig came along."
James McMullen is a long way from his home in Quakertown, Penn., but he got to experience some of his hometown weather today.
"I thought I'd come down here and get away from it," McMullen laughed as a stray snowflake or two fell from the sky. "You see how that worked out. I think it's following me."
Despite the weather, McMullen sacked up 28 pounds, 4 ounces for second place.
McMullen did confirm that he is throwing an Alabama rig.
"I fished one area all day, back and forth," he said. "I probably caught 25 keepers. And what's wild is they will bite in flurries. I would catch maybe three or four quick and then it would be dead for an hour, then they would fire back up for 10 minutes and go dead again."
Marty Giddens of Alpine, Ala., holds down the third place spot after day one with five bass weighing 28 pounds, 1 ounce.
Giddens said he did use an umbrella rig during the day but that he also caught some weigh fish on other lures.
"I'm throwing it some, but I'm not committed to it," Giddens said of the umbrella rig. "I think the key for me today was being able to fish late. I caught my two best fish in the last hour of the day."
Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., is in fourth place after day one with a five-bass limit weighing 26 pounds, 14 ounces.
Canterbury said he posted 9 or 10 keepers for the day and some came from an umbrella rig and some from a Chatterbait.
"Of the ones I weighed, three came from the rig and two were shallow on the Chatterbait," Canterbury said. "If the water was clearer, they might have all come on a rig but with the muddier, stained water, the Chatterbait became more of a player for me."
Shaye Baker of Tallassee, Ala., grabbed the fifth place spot with five bass for 26 pounds, 6 ounces.
Baker is one of the top pros in the standings who caught his bass without an umbrella rig today.
"I caught them the way I like to fish," Baker said. "I only had five bites today. Four were from 25 feet deep and one was in a foot of water. I'm hitting a lot of spots, but I have two primary lures I'm using."
"I have to thank fellow pro Casey Martin and the guys at the Mercury trailer today," he added. "I spun a hub and they helped get another prop out to me to get me going again - those guys are awesome."
Baker, who has become the GoPro Guru on the pro circuits, covering pro fishing events with the unique perspective of GoPro technology, said he captured his fish catches on a GoPro camera today and they will be available for viewing on his channel at fishflics.com or search keywords Shaye Baker Guntersville after the event.
Jerry Gore of St. Cloud, Fla., caught the big bass in the Pro Division on day one weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Guntersville after day one:
6th: Ricky Williams of Decatur, Ala., five-bass, 25-8
7th: Michael Stevens of Fayetteville, Tenn., five-bass, 25-1
8th: Alex Davis of Albertville, Ala., five-bass, 24-13
9th: Lonnie O'Neal of Valdosta, Ga., five-bass, 24-9
10th: Craig Chambers of Charlotte, N.C., five-bass, 24-7
Cupps leads co-anglers
Nick Cupps of Decatur, Ala., leads the Co-angler Division with a five bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 13 ounces.
Cupps fished with Walmart pro Wesley Strader today and received a special bonus on his Alabama Rig: two five-pounders at one time.
"When it's your time, it's your time I guess," Cupps said. "I caught all of those in the first hour and two of the biggest ones came on one cast. It was unreal. When fighting them in, Wesley actually though I had three on at one time, but it ended up being two big ones."
Randy Gardner of Wetumpka, Ala., is in second place with five bass weighing 25 pounds, 11 ounces.
Deandrae Kimbrough of Tuscaloosa, Ala., only caught three bass today, but they were all big ones weighing in at 18 pounds, 14 ounces.
Jason Smith of Killen, Ala., is in fourth place with five bass for 18 pounds, 2 ounces.
Brian Fuller of Prattville, Ala., rounds out the top five with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces.
Rodney Treadaway of Decatur, Ala., caught the big bass in the Co-angler Division on day one weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers in the EverStart Series event on Lake Guntersville after day one:
6th: Scott Towry of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., five bass, 15-15
7th: Jim Austin of Lithonia, Ga., four bass, 15-1
8th: Leon Brewington of Moulton, Ala., five bass, 13-8
9th: Scott Ostmann of Cincinnati, Ohio, two bass, 13-6
10th: Lee Black of Danville, Ala., four bass, 13-5
Day two of the EverStart Series Southeastern on Lake Guntersville will begin at 7 a.m. at Lake Guntersville State Park.