Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

Joining A Bass Club and Fishing A January Club Tournament

This is a great time to join a bass club. 

The Flint River Bass Club meets the first Tuesday of the month and fishes our tournament the following Sunday.  Potato Creek Bassmasters meets the Monday following the first Tuesday and fishes that Saturday.  Spalding County Sportsman Club meets the third Tuesday each month and fishes the following Sunday.  All three clubs have some two-day tournaments, too.

Annual dues are $25 in Flint River and $50 in the other two. Monthly tournament entry fees are $25 to $30 with a variety of pots, like daily big fish at $5, that are voluntary.

We have a lot of fun at the meetings discussing fishing and telling some true stories about it. Tournaments are fun competition, mostly for bragging rights since entry fees are low and there is not enough money involved to really get serious about it.

There are many of us in each of the three clubs that often fish alone, so there is always room for new members without a boat.  If interested in joining one of the clubs call me at 770-789-6168 or email

Last Sunday ten members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our first tournament of the year at Jackson.  The weather was great for this time of year, but the muddy 52-degree water seemed to turn off the bass.

In eight hours of casting, we brought 15 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 22 pounds to the scales. Ten of them were spots.  There was one limit and five members zeroed.

Doug Acree won with five weighing 8.09 pounds and said he caught a bunch of bass, culling in the first hour of the tournament, while the rest of us struggled to catch a keeper.  Don Gober had three at 4.12 pounds for second, Niles Murray placed third with two at 4.04 pounds and his 3.21 pound largemouth was big fish. My three weighing 3.72 pounds was good for fourth and Alex Gober had two at 2.19 for fifth.

Niles fished with me since his new boat has not arrived. We tried a little bit of everything that morning. Niles hooked a nice two-pound bass on a spinnerbait that came off right at the net first thing.

I missed a fish that hit a jig head worm because of my stupidity.  I had switched reels around and forget to check the drag. When I tried to set the hook, the spool just spun around, and I did not hook the fish.  I did land a keeper spot on a crankbait off a boat ramp and another one on a spinnerbait in a blowdown.  Then about 11:00 I slowed down and caught my third keeper on a shaky head worm on a rocky point.

I made the mistake of picking at Niles a little since he didn’t have a fish in the livewell and I had three. Then he caught the three pounder on a jig on a rocky point and caught up with me with one fish.  He added his second keeper with about an hour left to fish. It hit the jig on a point.

We both missed a lot of bites.  I caught two 11-inch spots and a couple of times, when I set the hook on the shaky head, I brought in half a worm, a good sign it was a little fish.

It was a fun day overall.  I am looking forward to the rest of the club tournaments this year.

Jackson Tournament and Fool On the Lake

Saturday, December 7, 17 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our last tournament of the year at Jackson.  After eight hours of casting, we brought in 38 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 54 pounds. Almost all of them were spots. There were five five-fish limits and seven fishermen didn’t have keeper.   

I won with five weighing 7.89 pounds, Mitchell Cardell placed second with five at 7.11 pounds, Raymond English was third with five at 7.01 pounds and Trent Grainger came in fourth with five weighing 6.42 pounds. Doug Acree had big fish with a 3.27 pounder.   

I started on deep rocky banks and fished them all day.  My first keeper hit a jig and pig slowly crawled down the dropping rocks at 7:30 and was a 2.98-pound spot, so I had a good start.  About an hour later I caught two more keepers on the jig on back to back cast on the end of a rocky point.   

At 9:30 I missed two bites on the jig by a log on a bluff bank, then landed my fourth keeper on a shaky head thrown to the same log.  I guess the smaller bait got in the fish’s mouth better.   

For the next three hours I tried hard but got no bites.  Then I tried to skip my bait under a dock, got hung on it and got a bad backlash.  After easing up to the dock and getting my bait, I let the boat drift against the dock while picking out the backlash.  My jig was hanging off the end of the rod, down in the water about six feet deep by the dock.   

My fifth keeper grabbed the jig and about jerked the rod out of my hand, setting the hook on itself.  It was on of those fish just meant to be caught.  I got another keeper at 1:00 on the same bank as the first one I caught that morning.   

With about an hour left to fish I was working up a long point in the middle of a wide cove. My boat was about 50 yards off the bank and pointed toward the bank as I cast to it.   

I heard a boat enter the cove behind me to my right.  He slowed way down, making a huge wake, went behind me, up the left side of the point then across it in front of me, about 20 yards off the bank.  Then he sped up and went further back in the cove.   

I don’t know whether he was an idiot, inconsiderate slob, or mad because I was fishing “his” place. He was in a bass boat, and I hate other fishermen that are so stupid.  I kept hoping he would run aground on the rocks up shallow on that point.    If you fish much, you just have to put up with fools like that.

Carter and Lee Rose Koza with St. Croix Rods

Press Release – Marietta Bassmasters high school anglers, Carter Koza and Paul Marks, recently bested a field of 95 teams to win the 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Lake Hartwell Open. The no-entry fee tournament was held November 2nd and was hosted by the Hart County Chamber of Commerce. The win qualified the duo of for the 2020 High School National Championship being held next summer on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Qualifying for the event is a significant accomplishment, as only the top ten percent of anglers at state qualifiers make the big show.
Lee Rose and Carter Koza with dad
Photo courtesy FLW
“We only got to practice one day, but we fish Lanier a lot, which is a herring lake a lot like Hartwell, so we stuck with what we knew,” says Koza, who found success with his partner fishing Chattahoochee jigs in deep brush piles with 7’, heavy power, fast action St. Croix Legend Tournament rods. “We caught a lot of fish; they were mostly 13 inchers, but we were patient and managed enough bigger bites to win with 13-10.

”Meanwhile – the same day on the same lake – Carter Koza’s sister and previous high school fishing partner, Lee Rose Koza, placed second in the Yeti FLW College Fishing Tournament at Lake Hartwell Presented by Costa with her partner Maddex Walters. The finish qualified the Carson-Newman University fishing pair for the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship, scheduled for Feb. 26-28 on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Florida. 
Lee Rose and Walters didn’t get to pre-fish Hartwell at all. “Maddex is from Georgia and he had been there (Hartwell) in high school, so we just had to go with what we knew from the past,” says Koza, who admits they received a bit of help from their draw. “We drew Boat #2, so we got out early and were able to get to the spots we wanted,” she says.

Generally, those spots were the deep ends of main lake humps, where the duo fished Z-Man Shaky HeadZ  jigs with Z-man Giant TRD and FattyZ Elaztech plastics on St. Croix Legend Tournament medium power fast and extra-fast action rods. “We had a limit by 8:45, so we started throwing bigger worms and got some upgrades,” she says. “Green pumpkin was the key color.”
The Future of Bass Fishing Both outdoor enthusiasts, Carter and Lee Rose come from a fishing family. Their father, Jamie Koza, is a former Chattahoochee River fishing guide, an avid tournament angler and tackle shop owner who passed on the joys of fishing to both kids when they were young. He also taught them a reliable set of techniques.
“Dad has always thrown a lot of crankbaits and it has always been one of our favorite ways to fish,” Carter says, “so, it’s not surprising that St. Croix’s Legend Glass and the new Mojo Bass Glass rods are the rods we prefer to use.”

The Koza’s insist that the St. Croix Legend Glass casting series offers the lightest crankbait rods in the industry; a testament to the linear S-Glass blank each is built around. The new 7’2” heavy power medium action Rip-N-Chatter model in St. Croix’s Legend Glass and Mojo Bass Glass lineups is one of Lee Rose’s favorites. “I’ve yet to find a better rod for cranking chatterbaits or rattlebaits,” she says. “I’m steadily converting my team members to glass! They can’t believe how light and sensitive these rods are, while possessing that sweet, moderate action you need to keep bass buttoned up.

”Carter, currently a high school junior, fished competitively with Lee Rose last season, which was her senior year at Mt. Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. They locked in a National invite by placing sixth at the Georgia State Finals on West Point Lake last February and went on to compete together in the High School Fishing National Championship.

“I’m still new to fishing and to the industry,” says Lee Rose, now a freshman at Carson-Newman University. “I grew up watching my dad and brother fish and decided as a junior in high school to join my school’s fishing team. I fished with a different partner that first year and fished with Carter my senior year. It was a blast. Everything flowed, because we had the same kind of style. Dad was our boat captain. It was a cool family deal,” Lee Rose recalls.

“I hope we can fish as a team again in the future.”Carter would like that, too. He has a great deal of respect for Carson-Newman’s coach, Hunter Sales, but says he is keeping his options open.“My sister and I will always be close,” says Carter, who talks to Lee Rose almost every day. “It’d be great to fish with her again in the future, because I know we could go far, but there’s a lot of great teams out there and I’m not sure where I’ll end up. In addition to their great coach, Carson-Newman’s team and program are fully funded by the school, which is a major benefit and makes a big difference for student competitors.”
What’s Next? Carter and his partner, Paul Marks head to Lake Chatuge in Georgia the weekend of Thanksgiving for the next stop on the Georgia Bass Nation tour. “It’s a points tournament and a qualifier for the Kentucky Lake National Bass Championship,” says Carter, who plans to stay in a camper and commute to and from school during the event. “If it stays cold, it will be a good deep brush pile bite,” he predicts. “It’ll Probably take 15 or 16 pounds of spots to win there.

”As for the 2020 High School National Championship next summer on the Mississippi River in La Crosse? “We have never been on the Mississippi,” says Carter, “so it will be a learning experience. But we’ll definitely spend some time up there and figure it out.

”As for Lee Rose’s goals, she wants her Carson-Newman team to finish this season in the top five in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year. “We ought to easily meet that. We’ve climbed from 66th place and are currently sitting in 11th,” says Koza, who has lofty personal aspirations, too. “My ultimate goal is to be successful working in the fishing industry. In addition to fishing and going to school full time, I work as an intern for the fishing PR firm, Traditions Media, and also help manage St. Croix Rod’s social media presence. I want to work on the media side of the industry after I graduate, so I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be working with these great companies.”

Committed to the Cause There’s been a buzz behind high school and college fishing since its inception in the mid-1990s. But recent backing from the nation’s largest professional tournament trails has transformed the sport, and sponsors have taken note of the youth movement. Today, many college bass programs have travel budgets for their players, allowances for rods, reels and tackle, and some even provide the use of modern bass boats. Nearly all of these products are donated or deeply discounted by manufacturers in the fishing market.St Croix Rod is on the leading edge of providing support to high school and college bass angling. It sponsors both the Bassmaster and FLW college fishing programs. 
“St. Croix representatives are on-hand at collegiate events to specifically determine the needs of college anglers and build long-term relationships that provide the foundation for future sponsorships,” says Lee Rose. “We are grateful to St. Croix and to all the other companies who have stepped up to support high school and college angling. It’s exciting to be a part of, and the opportunities are only going to expand.”

Lake Martin Three Club October Tournament

 Last weekend 30 members of the Flint River Bass Club, Potato Creek Bassmasters and Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our annual three club tournament at Lake Martin.  In 17 hours of casting, we landed 268 12-inch keeper bass weighing 379 pounds. Almost all of them were spotted bass.

    We had 26 limits on Saturday and 25 on Sunday. That is why we love to go to Lake Martin in October; we catch a lot of bass. Many folks reported catching 20 or more keepers each day.  Most are 13 to 14-inch spots weighing about a pound and a half, as the results below show, but they fight hard and are fun.

    For the two days, I barely won with ten bass weighing 19.14 pounds, Tom Tanner placed second with ten bass weighing 19.09 pounds, Lee Hancock was third with ten bass at 17.26 pounds and Doug Acree was fourth with ten bass weighing 16.64 pounds.  Buddy Laster had big fish with a 4.52 pound largemouth, one of the couple dozen of them caught.

    We paid back both days, fishing each day like a one-day tournament. On Saturday, Tom Tanner was first with five bass weighing 10.96 pounds, my five at 10.15 pounds was second, Buddy Laster placed third with five weighing 9.93 pounds and his 4.52 pound largemouth was big fish.  Lee Hancock was fourth with five bass weighing 9.01 pounds.

    On Sunday I won with five at 8.99 pounds, Doug Acree was second with five at 8.49 pounds and Wayne Teal placed third with five weighing 8.43 pounds.  Billy Roberts placed fourth with five at 8.26 pounds and had big fish with a 4.04 pound largemouth.

    I went over on Tuesday to try to find some bigger fish. In research before I left, I got information that most tournaments were being won in Kowaliga Creek. Martin has two long arms from the dam, one going up the Tallapoosa River and the other up Kowaliga Creek. Wind Creek State Park, where we launch, is far up the river from the dam, where Kowaliga Creek starts.

    Wednesday, I drove the few miles by road to a ramp on Kowaliga Creek and spent the day riding points looking for brushpiles and rocks. I marked 20 places with waypoints that looked promising.  I fished some and hooked two decent fish but lost both.

    Thursday, I made the 30-mile trip by boat, laying in GPS trail. There are many islands and short creeks near the dam where it is very easy to get lost, and if I made the run first thing each morning in the near dark, it would be tough. But with a trail to follow it would not be a problem.

    When I got to Kowaliga Creek I again fished some, concentrating on docks, and never got a bite.

    Friday, I fished around the park and in two hours caught a limit of bass that would weigh about eight pounds.  They were in their usual places in that area, around rocks, docks and brush I have fished for more than forty years.  That made me think hard about the long run to where I had not landed a fish in two days.

    I decided to gamble on the long run and took off at 7:00 AM Saturday morning. At 7:30 I made my first cast and got a hit on topwater. I quickly caught two on a Whopper Flopper hand painted lure from Jim Farmer’s Castaway Tackle Company, but they were about 1.5 pounds each, no better than what I caught on the other side of the lake.  The third one I caught hit one of Jim’s hand painted Sebile swimbaits and it was a bigger fish, so I felt better.

    After the sun got up I went back in a cove and cast the Plopper to some shade and got an explosive bite.  I fought the bass to the boat but when I bent down to pick up the net, the fish dove straight down and got me hung up in some brush.  It was stuck solid when I tried to pull it free.

    I did want to lose the expensive lure, so I got out my chain lure retriever. When it hooked the plug and pulled the brush loose, the limb, plug and fish came up and I manage to get all of it in the boat. I was very lucky.  I fished the Plopper on windy banks the rest of the day and caught about 20 more fish.

    Sunday there was no wind, so I switched to a shaky head worm and landed about 20 more bass, but they were smaller. But they were big enough for first place!  The run was worth it, even though I burned about 40 gallons of gas in my boat in the two days.


The Buyout: What it Means for Pro Bass Fishing
Frank Sargeant
from The Fishign Wire

Things continue to happen fast in the world of big league bass fishing, where Major League Fishing (MLF) announced yesterday that they are gobbling up Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) in yet another move that must have the lights burning late at night at B.A.S.S. headquarters in Birmingham.

MLF stunned the tournament industry last year by convincing a majority of the top names in the Bassmaster Elite circuit, arguably the best-known and most financially-successful competitive anglers in freshwater fishing, to jump ship from their long-term relationship with the 50-year old B.A.S.S. and move into a new made-for-television series that so far has pretty much lived up to expectations, delivering very watchable competition where viewers truly get the sense of the moment-by-moment intensity and emotion involved when lots of money is on the line.

To be sure, a few fans (and some in the industry) threw bricks at the pro’s who jumped to the MLF after being made famous (and rich in some cases) by the public relations muscle of B.A.S.S. and the industry connections that brought high-dollar sponsorships. But there were also some on the Elite circuit who felt the tournament organization was making an excessive profit on the backs of those who pay-to-play.

Tournament fishing, unlike other pro sports, depends on the participants to fund themselves,  and it can be very, very expensive, starting with a boat and truck package that will approach $100,000, tens of thousands in entry fees and many more thousands in travel expenses, plus lots of time on the road which makes working a “normal” job impossible and also cuts many off from their families for weeks at a time. A few get rich, but many go broke. It ain’t for sissies, to be sure.

 MLF, co-founded by Boyd Duckett, a highly successful B.A.S.S. Elite pro and businessman in his own right, offered select pros what most viewed as a more equitable and dependable financial package. When a few of the top names agreed to enter the new circuit and abandon B.A.S.S., the rush was suddenly on for those invited in.   MLF also touts a couple of technical advantages over the venerable B.A.S.S. circuit, started by Ray Scott in 1967 and still following basically the same format.

The MLF Bass Pro Tour consists of eight events and a championship streamed live and MOTV. MLF uses the conservation-friendly catch, weigh and immediate-release format where every scorable bass counts, the tally is kept by a marshal in the boat and the winner is the angler with the highest cumulative weight. First, the fact that anglers can score lots of points by getting on a school of relatively small bass in the MLF circuit means there’s a lot more action available on-camera than in the B.A.S.S. format where anglers purposely avoid small fish to catch the 4 to 5 pounders almost always needed to win on quality fisheries.

Anglers routinely catch 50 or more bass per day on camera in MLF events—the action is almost continuous.

Second, since the cameras are in the boats continuously, anglers can’t say they caught their bass on their sponsor’s Hula-Wiggler-Wobbler when in fact they caught it on the lure of a competitor not their sponsor.

And they also can’t fib about where and how they’re fishing—the camera sees it all, and so do the fans. If they’re finesse fishing, we know immediately. Ditto for flippin’, for crankbaiting and for popping the top—and watching them live as they sort through the possibilities that might turn on the $100,000 bite puts the viewer in the boat. It’s a real education for all who love bass angling. 

Last but not least, the immediate release format assures that virtually 100 percent of the bass caught will survive, and since they’re released right back into the same locations from where they were caught, there’s no disruption of the eco-system, as there is sometimes when large numbers of spawners are caught and moved out of a spawning area during the weigh-in process. (B.A.S.S. takes very good care of their fish and loses a tiny percentage of them, but they do have some casualties.) 

All of this said, the buyout is unlikely to have an immediate negative impact on B.A.S.S. A new generation of Elite heroes is being made on the water this season, and with the company’s strong ties in the industry forged over generations, their powerful web presence, increased live streaming and the venerable Bassmaster Magazine reaching their half-million members monthly, the company’s future looks strong.

In fact, we may at some point down the road see a sort of AFC/NFC competition where teams from each league go head to head to determine who, in fact, has bragging rights for the top competitive bass anglers on the planet. It’s an intriguing concept, sure to draw a whole lot of eyeballs to TV and streaming devices should it ever happen. We’ll be watching, and we’ll keep you posted. 

Fishing Lake Sinclair in September

 Although bass fishing is tough, its getting better and some big fish are being caught in big lakes.  At the September Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament at Sinclair, 12 members caught 35 bass weighing about 55 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and no one zeroed.

    Raymond English showed us all how to do it with five weighing 14.88 pounds and his 7.43 pounder was big fish.  George Roberts had limit weighing 8.39 pounds and had a 4.08 pounder.  Zane Fleck’s limit at 5.92 pounds was third and Randall Sharpton had four weighing 5.71 pounds for fourth.

    I had a frustrating day, catching only three keepers, and I landed every fish that I hooked.  I wrongly thought everyone was having a tough day and felt pretty good with a 2.42 pound largemouth until George weighed his four pounder then Raymond shocked us all with the seven pounder.

    Mayflies were hatching in many places and formed clouds in some of the spots I fished, but oddly I never saw any bream eating them, a bad sign.  I guess I was in the wrong places.

    After fishing a buzzbait without a bite for thirty minutes, my first cast to a dock post with a shaky head produced my first keeper. I stuck with that pattern for a while and caught some short fish, then tried some deeper brush. I caught nothing but short fish even there.

    At 9:30 I cast behind a dock and a bass grabbed my shaky head and went under the dock. Somehow, I pulled it around the dock post and landed the two pounder.  It was one of those bass just meant to be caught.  After retying my line, cutting out the frayed part from the dock post, I fished several more docks and finally got my third keeper, a bare 12-inch fish that grabbed my worm and ran back under the boat before I could set the hook. Another one just meant to be caught.

    Although I fished to the bitter end and tried everything I could think of, that was it for me.

West Point Fishing in August

Sunday, August 24, at West Point, 11 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club cast for nine hours on a cool day with pouring rain the last two hours. We landed 15 bass weighing about 19 pounds. There were only four 14-inch largemouth, the rest were 12-inch spots. There were no limits and five people did not catch a keeper.

Jay Gerson won with four weighing 4.50 pounds, Wayne Teal had three at 4.03 pounds for second and big fish weighing 1.82 pounds, my two weighing 3.17 pounds was third and Niles Murray had three at 2.97 pounds for fourth.

I stated with a buzzbait on a deep rocky bank where I have caught a good many fish, but never got a bite. Then as the sky got lighter, I started fishing deeper brush, landing a keeper spot and a keeper largemouth on shaky head worm from about 20 feet deep.

Thought maybe that would work on other places but it didn’t. Since it was a rainy, cloudy day I tried a lot of shallow stuff too, and hooked one decent looking bass in a tree top in a foot of water, but it wrapped me up and sawed back and forth until it broke my line.

Saying it was a tough day is an understatement!

Trying To Catch Bass at Clarks Hill

August 10 and 11th, nine members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fish a miserably hot two-day tournament at Clarks Hill. At least the fishing was tough. In 18 hours of casting we landed 41 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 65 pounds.

There were three limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper in two days. But there were some good fish, five weighed more than three pounds each.

Raymond English, fishing as Niles Murray’ guest, won with ten weighing 17.11 pounds. Niles placed second with nine keepers weighing 14.51 pounds, Travis Weatherly was third with seven at 10.24 pounds and Chuck Croft came in fourth with six weighing 6.66 pounds. Jerry Ragen had big fish with a 4.39 pound largemouth.

I thought I had found some fish on deep rock piles and caught two Saturday, including one close to three pounds, and lost another one that felt as big as the three pounder. But that was it, two fish all day. And Sunday I missed one bite and had another good fish pull off the dropshot worm. No fish for me after eight hot hours of trying Sunday.

Lake Guntersville July Tournament Details

Camping for five nights at Guntersville – $196.00. Gas for truck – 100.00 – Gas for boat – 50.00 – Food – 50.00 – Club tournament fee – 35.00 – Ice – 25.00.

Winning $25.00 for third place and $35.00 for big fish – priceless!!

Sitting by the lake after fishing, grilling dinner and relaxing is also priceless. I always camp on multiday fishing trips for several reasons. It is more relaxing than a motel and I can leave stuff in and on my boat without worrying about it getting stolen. I much prefer my cooking to eating out. And it is easier to go to bed at sundown and sleep better.

Although it was very hot at Guntersville, a fan in a screen dining tent helped a lot. Fortunately, my camper has an air conditioner, so I sleep comfortably. Both fan and AC felt great after a hot day on the lake.

In our July tournament at Guntersville last weekend, seven members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished for 15 hours to land 33 keeper bass, only four of them spots, weighing about 80 pounds. There was one five-bass limit and everyone caught at least one keeper.

Raymond English won with seven bass weighing 16.75 pounds and Jay Gerson had eight, including a limit the first day, weighing 16.08 pounds for second. My four weighing 11.65 pounds was third and my 4.55 pound largemouth was big fish. Fourth was Glenn
Anderson with four weighing 11.14 pounds.

I went to the lake on Wednesday and got my camper set up. Thursday morning I went out looking for something that might work for me. I checked the backs of several creeks, isolated places where I thought I could fish in peace, but got only two bites and lost both fish. That afternoon I rode and fished ledges and grass lines, the usual summer pattern there.

Friday I spent the morning looking at the same kinds of places on the main lake. I have never fished a tournament on that area of the lake. The area I usually fish and am more familiar with is about 20 miles by water down the lake and I was not willing to make that run.

I did have the advantage of many GPS waypoints from old articles on the lake. But many of them were from other seasons, not the hot summertime. But I did have many good spots marked on ledges.

That afternoon I had not had a bite so I decided to try something with which I am more familiar. I had seen a line of docks around a deep cove that looked good. When I went to them I caught two nice spotted bass. At least I had something to fall back on if the ledges didn’t work.

I noticed a mercury vapor light over the water at one dock was on during the middle of the day, so I figured it stayed on all night and attracted fish. I filed that away as something to remember at first light.

Saturday morning I decided to start on a grassline when we took off at 6:00 AM. I quickly caught one short bass, about 14.5 inches long. Largemouth and smallmouth at Guntersville have to be 15 inches long to keep, but any size spotted bass can be kept, so we could weigh in 12-inch spots based on club rules.

At 7:20 I hooked and landed a 15.5-inch keeper largemouth and knew I would not zero so I relaxed – maybe too much. I fished a second grassline where I had marked baitfish the day before and largemouth were schooling on top, but all I caught were too short.

When I headed to my third marked spot, there was another bass boat there and they were fishing it hard. Since it was almost noon and the sun was high, I headed to the docks where I had caught the two spots, but there were three boats already fishing them.

The rest of the day I tried several things but never caught another keeper. At weigh-in I was in seventh out of seven people!

Sunday morning I ran straight to the dock with the light – and it was not on. But the fish were there. I quickly caught a 15.5-inch keeper, and six other bass just shorter than 15 inches, all on a spinnerbait. I lost what looked like a 2.5-pound keeper that just pulled off my buzzbait. That was not good.

At 9:00, after fishing the docks without another bite, I want to the ledges. I headed to the one I had not been able to fish the day before, and no one was there. It was the perfect set-up – a long creek channel wound across a huge flat to dump into the old river channel in the middle of the lake.

I got my boat in position and caught a short fish. Then on my second bite I set the hook on a good fish. I guessed it weighted about four pounds when I put it in the livewell.

A few casts later I hooked and landed a largemouth a little bigger than the first. It was the big fish in the tournament. Then, I got a bite, set the hook and my rod bowed up just like on the first two four pounders and fought like them for a few seconds, then pulled off my hook.

I stayed in that area the rest of the day but got no more keepers.

At weigh in my three weighed 10.01 pounds, the heaviest of any for the two days, and moved me to third place.

Guntersville is famous for its bass fishing, ranked as the second-best bass lake in the US this year by
BASS. But with the 15-inch limit, it can be tough to fish, with thousands of acres of grass and lily pad fields, and many miles of ledges and grasslines on the main lake, and heavy fishing pressure on all of them.

Its only 4.5 hours away – give it a try.

West Point Tournament and Guntersville Plans

Saturday, Jully 13, 24 Potato Creek Bassmasters members fished West Point from 5:30 AM to 2:00 PM in our July tournament. We started out wrong, arriving at Pyne
Park to find the boat ramp blocked for Dragon Boat races that afternoon. We quickly moved everyone to another nearby ramp.

In 8.5 hours of fishing, we landed 24 keeper bass weighing about 47 pounds. There were two five-bass limits, but 14 people did not have keeper.

Michael Cox won with four weighing 10.82 pounds and his 5.91 pound largemouth was big fish. It was very skinny and would have weighed over seven pounds in the spring, based on its head size.

Mitchell Cardell had four weighing 9.31 pounds for second, Lee Hancock placed third with five at 7.19 pounds and my five weighing 5.46 pounds was fourth. Trent Grainger had one weighing 4.62 pounds for fifth. It was another big headed skinny largemouth.

Again, I had a feeling I could catch some fish early in a certain place, but after fishing two places where I though they would feed shallow before the sun came up I had not gotten a bite. So, I started fishing deep brush, changing patterns completely.

I was on a 20-foot-deep brush pile at 9:00 and quickly caught three keeper spotted bass. I had fished it with a big crankbait and big worm, hoping for a good size largemouth since I had heard that was a good pattern, but got no bites.

My first cast to the brush with a smaller bait, a shaky head worm, produced a short spot then my next cast got my biggest of the day, a spot weighing a little over a pound. I landed several more short spots there, too, so I went to more deep brush.

At 11:00 I had not gotten another keeper, although I stuck with a shaky head and drop shot worm, small baits spots like. Then while looking for an old brush pile I saw a new one nearby on my depthfinder and caught my fourth keeper from it.

I kept trying deep brush without a bite. On some of them I could see fish suspended over them, the perfect set-up for a drop shot but could not get a bite on it. Then, with less that 30 minutes to fish, I caught my fifth keeper on the dropshot, my first bite on it all day.

Persistence pays off sometimes.

The Sportsman Club is fishing legendary Lake Guntersville this weekend. Although you hear about the fantastic catches there, based on the Alabama Bass Information Trail creel census reports from bass clubs, it is the most difficult lake in Alabama to catch a keeper bass in a club tournament.

Fishing at Guntersville is “combat fishing” in my experience. It seems folks go there based on its reputation, get frustrated by not catching fish, and lose all respect for others.

If you catch a bass there you can expect several more boats, anyone seeing you catch the fish, join you immediately. There is no consideration for others. A couple years ago I saw 17 boats fishing a small area. They were so close together some boats were bumping each other, and every one of them could have cast into every other boat.

I do not enjoy fishing like that and will be looking for a secluded area to fish. It may not produce a good catch, but I will enjoy it a lot more.