Live now : TOYOTA SERIES 2020 Pickwick

Perfect timing

Perfect timing
It's one minute from the official launch of the 2009 Walmart FLW Tour season and conditions are lining up for some big catches to kick the new season off right.

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - It's too cold ... that front will shut them down ... the wind is going to blow ... the water is too muddy ... the fish are in transition ... the grass is dead ... the lake is turning over ... there's not enough current ...

In the world of professional bass fishing, there always seems to be some weather or water condition that fouls everything up come tournament time. The common sentiment is always, "man, if we were here last week," or, "next week these fish will really turn on."

When do you ever hear professional anglers say, "Everything is perfect; we're gonna catch'em!"

Well, the Chevy Open on Lake Guntersville is going to be that tournament.

In a rare occurrence for February, weather and water conditions have lined up nicely for the 2009 Walmart FLW Tour season opener this week.

After a prolonged period of arctic freeze in the Southeast, the practice round for the Chevy Open has been graced with increasing temperatures bumping into the 70s during the day and falling just below 50 at night.

As a result, water temperatures have warmed as well. When practice started, pros saw 40-degree water temperatures, and by the end of practice, some said they discovered 55-degree water temperatures up in the shallows.

And talk about good timing: Another frontal system moved through Wednesday, bringing squally rain showers and high post-frontal winds, but the pros were on the bank because it was the off-limits daySnickers pro Greg Pugh wrestles with a pile of rattling lipless crankbaits: the premium lure for fishing Lake Guntersville in cold water..

Wednesday's front was very mild to boot. Last night, temps dipped barely into the 30s, and by this afternoon, it's going back up to a sunny 65 degrees.

"We're gonna catch them, there's no doubt," said local favorite and Snickers pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. "Guntersville bass bite pretty well when it's cold anyway, but throw a little warm up into the equation, and it only gets better."

Some pros think FLW Tour records might be in jeopardy, specifically the two-day qualifying weight to make the top 10 (Thursday and Friday's total) and the winning weight for the final round (Saturday and Sunday's total).

Also, the heaviest single-day catch and the four-day total record might be on shaky ground as well.

For a quick review, those current records (FLW Tour only) are as follows:

The qualifying weight record belongs to Castrol pro Darrel Robertson for a two-day catch of 49 pounds, 8 ounces on Lake Murray in 2003.

The two-day winning total record is owned by Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi for his 47-4 winning catch at Lake Murray in 2006.

And the single-day record and four-day total record both belong to Tim Carroll, who weighed in 30-15 on the final day at Lake Murray in 2006 to amass a four-day total of 90-3.

Pros get ready to light off into the dawn on day one of the Chevy Open."I'm not claiming that we're going to destroy all the records in this event, but I think a record or two could be broken," Pugh said. "Especially the four-day total weight or the single-day record. I think we might see a 30-plus-pound stringer or two weighed in this week; it's definitely going to be a fun tournament."

As for catching those giant bass, it's no secret the best Guntersville grass gig going is a lipless rattling crankbait, and it's a safe bet that nearly every pro in the field had a lipless rattler tied on as they departed the dock this morning.

"It's a Guntersville standard," Pugh said of the rattlers. "You don't go out here this time of year without one."

Randall Tharp, another local favorite, agreed.

"Some kind of lipless rattling lure will probably be the winning bait," Tharp said. "It's like candy to these Guntersville bass this time of year; it's a perfect reaction bait in the grass in cold water."

Tharp, too, is predicting some heavy weights this week.

"Things seem to be lining up right, and it could be a special week," Tharp said of the possibility of breaking records. "I'm thinking we'll see low to mid-40s to make the cut, and there's the potential for some 30-pound bags out here. It's that time of year when the big ones bite, but keeping up with them is difficult because they're moving so much.

"My favorite time to fish Guntersville is actually in the late summer and fall because the grass is matted and the fish live in those mats. Once you find a wad of bass in a mat, they're not going anywhere. This time of year so much is changing and the fish are on the move. It means you have to chase them down a little bit more than in the fall when you can keep dipping from the same well. But it's still going to be a great tournament, and like I said, the conditions seem to be lining up perfect."

LogisticsLocal favorite Randall Tharp fools a nice Guntersville bass on a lipless crankbait during the Guntersville practice.

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. each day from the Lake Guntersville Resort State Park Resort in Guntersville, Ala., located at 1155 Lodge Drive in Guntersville.

Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the Lake Guntersville Resort State Park Resort beginning at 3 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday's weigh-ins will be held at the Von Braun Center located at 700 Monroe St. in Huntsville, Ala., beginning at 4 p.m.

In conjunction with the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Von Braun Center from noon to 6 p.m. each day. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator.

Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last. One lucky member of the audience will even win a new Ranger boat during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in Sunday, Feb. 15. Admission is free, and you must be present to win.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:33 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 43 degrees
Expected high temperature: 65 degrees
Water temperature: 42-52 degrees
Wind: NNW at 5 to 10 mph
Day's outlook: sunny and warming

Tags: rob-newell  morning-story  2009-02-12-lake-guntersville 

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