UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Calvert, Lane Catch 29 at Guntersville Slugfest

Calvert, Lane Catch 29 at Guntersville Slugfest
Houston Calvert and Justin Lane of the University of North Alabama

Lake Guntersville lived up to its hype today at the YETI FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference tournament. Twenty-three teams broke the 20-pound mark, and the entire top 30 had at least 19.

Of course, as good as a 19-pound limit is, catching “just 19” would’ve left you more than 10 pounds back of tournament winners Houston Calvert and Justin Lane of the University of North Alabama.

Calvert and Lane weighed in 29 pounds, 3 ounces to take the top spot among 208 teams (fourth most in College Fishing history) and qualify for the 2020 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship.

Complete results

“We just had three or four days of sunshine where it was 60 to 72 degrees, and I think a big wave was pushing up,” says Calvert. “As you can tell, everybody found that. That’s the biggest weights I’ve seen in a college tournament. I really wanted it to be 30 pounds. I really thought we had 30. It was close, but maybe another time.”

“It’s just left me speechless, to be honest with you,” adds Lane. “Today is one of those days you dream about. It’s just incredible that it happened in a tournament for us. That’s the biggest bag I’ve ever caught in my life.

“I grew up about an hour and a half from Guntersville, but I never fished it until my freshman year in college. I always despised the place, actually. Houston, he kind of convinced me we were going to change that. Sure enough, he changed my opinion today.”

The warm spell Houston describes sort of fizzled by the tournament as a cold front brought lower temps and rain, which the team thinks caused some of the fish that were headed for the bank in practice to slide back out into hydrilla beds.

That’s where the Lions found their winning fish, targeting a single pocket all day long.

“We started out throwing a ChatterBait in grass in 6 to 8 feet,” says Calvert, a senior studying marketing. “We probably had, I want to say, 12 pounds within 30 to 45 minutes of blast off. It rained there for two to three hours, and we just moved up on the bank with it raining. He [Lane] threw a Zoom Ultravibe Speed Worm, and I threw the NetBait Big Bopper. We were swimming them around hydrilla.”

The shallower shift mostly produced smaller bass due to all the bucks up on the bank, so once the rain quit, Lane and Calvert slid back out. Lane added a solid 4-plus keeper with a Rat-L-Trap, and gradually the team chipped away at a nice limit.

What sealed the deal was a pair of kickers late in the afternoon that left Calvert and Lane with a limit comprised of one keeper close to 7 pounds, three 6-pounders and one about 4.

“We saw some shad running in the grass,” Calvert recalls. “We sat down and cut off our green pumpkin and black and blue ChatterBaits and tied on a white ChatterBait with a Keitech FAT on the back of it. Once we changed to white, right before weigh-in we culled two – big time. I know we culled at 2:15, and once we made that last cull we put everything up and went to the ramp.”

Rather than a straight retrieve, the Lions yo-yoed their ChatterBaits through the grass to try and get reaction strikes. Most of their big fish came on the ChatterBait in 4 to 8 feet. The key area had a couple of good ditches running into it and slightly clearer water than surrounding areas. The clean water held a lot of fish, but it attracted other teams to the area.

Hence, the team found it necessary to rotate through baits and colors to overcome the pressure from other teams, plus their own pressure.

“I was kind of changing every 30 minutes to an hour,” says Lane, a junior business management major. “I feel like we had to really stay on our toes about trying to stay with the fish and what they were doing. They changed so many times throughout the day.”

Change is normal for bass in spring. And if this tournament is any indication, there’s a really big change coming to Guntersville as bass prepare to move up to spawn. High water and inconsistent weather that’s tagged along with a bout of storms the last couple weeks won’t be enough to slow down great teams like Calvert and Lane, and we can probably expect more impressive weights from the Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing event to be held on Guntersville on Saturday.

“A lot of people in practice said they were seeing big fish up cruising the bank on the sunny, hot days,” Lane says. “The cold weather brought them back to reality that it wasn’t quite time yet. So they were staging out there in the edge of that grass trying to stay warm, and there was a lot of food in there.”

“I think if the weather was going to be warm next week they would be spawning,” adds Calvert. “They want to spawn so bad. There are a lot of bucks up shallow. We probably caught, I would say, 30 fish. Probably 20 of those were 2-pounders. The other 10 were anywhere from 3 to 6 pounds. Pretty much everybody I talked to caught 30 to 40 fish.”

 

Top 10 teams

1. Houston Calvert & Justin Lane – University of North Alabama – 29-3 (5) – $2,400

2. Dax Ewart & Kristopher Queen – Bethel University – 28-5 (5) – $1,000

3. Nathon Portch & Cully Scroggins – Bethel University – 27-15 (5) – $700

4. Jordan Thompson & Landon Smith – Calhoun Community College – 25-3 (5) – $750 

5. Justin Barnes & Adam Carroll – University of Montevallo – 25-3 (5) – $500

6. Wesley Culpepper & Scout Monteith – Lipscomb University – 24-9 (5) 

7. Chasten Beck & Andrew Pridgen – Lander University – 24-8 (5) 

8. Adam White & Cody Stahl – Savannah College of Art & Design – 24-8 (5) 

9. Tyler Turnage & John Malone-Grippe – University of South Carolina – 23-8 (5) 

10. Isaac Duncan – Blue Mountain College – 23-8 (5)

Complete results

Tags: university-of-north-alabama  college-fishing  guntersville  chatterbait  keitech  rat-l-trap  speed-worm  curtis-niedermier  co-angler-headline  2019-03-01-guntersville 

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