UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

FLW anglers set to conquer Lake Martin

FLW anglers set to conquer Lake Martin

Alabama lake makes debut on Wal-Mart FLW Tour

In January, the FLW Tour kicked off the 2001 season at Lake Okeechobee amidst much fanfare. However, despite the cooler-than-normal conditions and lower-than-average lake levels, the nation's premier bass anglers managed to reel in a parade of monster bass and hefty five-fish limits. In the end, David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., walked away with first place and a $100,000 check.

The following month, the 2001 tour moved to the Pascagoula River in D'Iberville, Miss. With dense fog, cool conditions and gusting winds dominating the landscape of the Pascagoula and Biloxi Rivers, anglers battled the rough elements and endured some of the smallest catch totals in recent memory. However, when all was said and done, Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., went on to capture his first-ever FLW tour victory.

So what does Lake Martin - the third FLW Tour stop in 2001 - have in store for the nation's top anglers? Well, if you listen to the experts, it appears that the March 21-24 FLW Tour event on Lake Martin almost certainly will be a hybrid of the first two tour stops. In essence, anglers can expect to catch lots of fish, just not a lot of big fish.

Lake facts and history

After dam construction was completed in 1926, Lake Martin earned distinction as one of the largest reservoirs in the world. With a surface area of 40,000 acres, and more than 700 miles of shoreline, Lake Martin is the second deepest in the state. Located in east-central Alabama in Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa Counties, Lake Martin is commonly referred to as the cleanest lake in Alabama.

Lake Martin and its tributaries form part of the Tallapoosa River watershed that extends all the way into Georgia covering more than 3,000 total square miles. The Tallapoosa River joins the Coosa River just north of Montgomery, Ala., to form the Alabama River. The waters of Lake Martin eventually flow to the Gulf of Mexico through Mobile Bay.

While Lake Martin is an excellent largemouth fishery, it is estimated that spotted bass comprise approximately 70 percent of all bass found in the lake.

Big numbers, small stringers

With Lake Martin expected to be in a pre-spawn phase heading into the tournament, anglers are expecting some exciting competition on the water.

"It should be a good tournament," said Trip Weldon, a native Wetumpka, Ala. "Lake Martin's not a great lake for catching large fish, but I think there will be a lot of fish caught."

And Weldon should know. After all, he won the EverStart Series tour event on Lake Martin in 2000 and has been fishing the lake for the last 25 years. In fact, Weldon arguable possesses more knowledge about Lake Martin than any other angler of the circuit today.

"By the start of the tournament, the lake is likely going to be in its pre-spawn phase," said Weldon. "The creeks will be heavily stained, but the main lake will be pretty clear. And unlike a lot of lakes on the FLW circuit, the whole lake is extremely fishable - which makes it a perfect lake for tournament fishing. Unlike Lake Okeechobee, where everyone basically fishes in two locations, you can catch a fish anywhere on Lake Martin. The FLW Tour is definitely hitting the lake at the right time of the year."

Weldon believes that anglers will be able to use a wide variety of fishing styles as well.

"The fish are going to be caught on many different patterns," he said. "Sight-fishing, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastics ... people are definitely going to catch a lot of fish."

Although Weldon remains one of the pre-tournament favorites, given his extensive knowledge of the lake and past tournament success on Lake Martin, he believes the tournament will be wide open.

"For starters, when I won the EverStart tournament on Lake Martin, it was during the winter (February 2000) and the water level was down about 9 feet," said Weldon. "So, it's going to be a very different tournament this time around. In mid-March, the fish will be spawning, which means that they'll most likely be on the beds. It's a big equalizer when the fish are shallow. Not to mention the fact that FLW anglers are some of the best fishermen in the country."

Ten pounds a day could do it

Like Weldon, FLW angler Dale Teaney also believes that Lake Martin will produce a large number of five-fish limits.

"If we get some warm weather, the fishing will be pretty good," said Teaney, who leads the FLW Tour overall points standings despite fishing the FLW circuit for the first time this year. "There are a lot of fish in this lake and there are going to be many limits caught. However, the weights are not going to be huge. My guess is that 10 pounds a day will be enough to make the top-10 cut."

Terry Bolton, a native of Paducah, Ky., echoed the sentiments of Weldon and Teaney.

"There will be lots of fish caught and a lot of five-fish limits," he said. "But you probably won't see a lot of big fish. My guess is that a really good stringer of fish will be in the 12- to 15-pound range."

Although approximately 70 percent of the bass present in Lake Martin are of the spotted variety, Bolton believes that largemouth bass will ultimately tip the scales in the final outcome.

"You're going to see anglers bring in a lot of spotted bass," said Bolton. "But I think you're going to need to catch some bigger largemouth bass to win this tournament. It should be a very interesting tournament from both an angler and spectator standpoint."

After battling the difficult and frustrating conditions on the Pascagoula River, many anglers said they were looking forward to the third stop on the 2001 FLW Tour.

"I can't sleep already," said Teaney, who finished in 13th place during the EverStart Series event on Lake Martin last February. "I'm very anxious to say the least."

Weldon, anxious to get in his first dose of FLW tournament action this year, said he just might have some trouble sleeping as well.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I'll be there with both barrels blazing for this one."

Related links:
Tournament field
Event details
Wal-Mart FLW Tour anglers heading to Lake Martin
Tournament preview: FLW Lake Martin, March 21-24











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