Here is additional recap and insights into the mighty pool of the Tennessee River called Lake Guntersville. This is footage compiled from the 2012 FLW Everstart Tournament from May 3-5th 2012. There are some subtle details in the footage above. Suspended fish, getting caught on swimbaits. Sometimes in the form of the castable umbrella/Alabama Rig, sometimes just a single paddle tailed tube swimbait. Realize, that guys were able to catch 17-19 pounds per day sight fishing/bed fishing during this tournament. I had 15 pounds per day catching fish on the 8″ Triple Trout over milfoil and hydrilla in 2-6 feet of water. So, the fish were in 1 foot of water, and all the way down in 30+ feet. The lesson here to me was that the big fish, don’t just gradually make their way to the ledges. They go out deep FIRST. Really deep. Like full summer deep, and perhaps they aren’t on the bottom, but they relate to really deep water, and will suspend 10-15 feet down, over 30 feet of water. Justin Lucas provided some really interesting insights into what he was doing to catch 30+ pounds for 2 of the 3 days. Based on the brim one of his fish coughed up in the livewell on Day 3, which you can see in the above footage, it really makes me wonder what a guy could do with bigbaits, out on the ledges of Guntersville. Mark Rose’s insights, JT Kenney’s insights, and winner Alex Davis’s insights all made me realize little subtle things I found interesting, about how to find, locate and catch fish on Guntersville and the Tennessee River at large. Look at the results here. It wasn’t a wack fest out there for the vast majority of the field. Some schools of big fish out there, and only a handful of guys with the knowledge and ability to find and catch fish out of those schools.
My friend Casey Martin was not himself all week leading up to the tournament. He was giddy and acting ‘guilty’ and that told me he either had just robbed a bank (which isn’t likely, knowing Casey) or he was around some really big fish and knew he had a shot at winning, which was the case. You will notice the Top 10 on Day 3 pretty much all had addresses that give them excellent access to ledges on the TN River. You have to understand you just don’t pull out deep and get on fish Guntersville. There are all kinds of things I am still learning, but most importantly, you need side imaging to find these deep fish, something I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t been able to afford yet. Casey was telling me he was on schools of 4-5 pounders. Catching all kinds of fish about the same size. I’d seen this before the few times I’d gotten around them on Kentucky Lake. I really believe a bigbait, not just a swimbait, would get more of those 5-7 pounders to get fired up and eat. Casey was bummed with 23 pounds, like that was a small limit the final day. “I caught like 20 four pounders”…. Kills me!
Justin Lucas capitalized on a single, well placed, swimbait to catch 2 of the heaviest stringers weighed in, in the entire event. Suspended fish with a swimbait, TN River style. Very interesting. Mark Rose and Alex Davis were using castable U-Rigs with Shadalicious swimbaits to catch suspended fish. Casey was using the Picasso School E Rig with Shadalicious swimmers too. Suspended fish are a common theme of the TN River, and the Alabama Rig exposed how many big ones lives in no mans land, and now there is a tool to catch them. But as Justin Lucas showed, a well placed single swimmer can trump even the U-rig, and I wonder what an 8″ Huddleston or a larger swimmer like the Sledge Hammer swam in those same schools might do? 40 pounds? Anyway, I found Guntersville extremely ‘interesting’ to say the least. I learn something new every time I fish that river, and I’m finally getting my feet under me a little bit.
My tournament involved the 8″ Triple Trout fished over milfoil mostly. I had some opportunities at some 5-7 pound bites. Some really nice fish came close to biting, but ultimately I weighed in 15 pounds per day, and for the first time weighed in all 10 fish in a tournament on a bigbait, which was a ‘moral’ victory. I think if you got to the grass BEFORE the big ones had moved out deep, you could really do some damage and showcase what bigbaits could do up shallow on Guntersville. That bite is there, no doubt. However, it’s May and getting toward June which means even more fish will migrate to the ledges and get offshore. The Tour heads to Kentucky Lake in June, and I’m waiting to see who embraces the bigbait mentality on the ledges, or perhaps it won’t be necessary at all? These guys catch really big sacks on 3/4 football heads and Strike King 6XD cranks, but shoot, my limited experiences has showed me the bigbait, stroked or swam around the schools, which I rarely find, gets mega bites. Sometimes its about finding ’em, sometimes its about catching ’em, but most times it’s a balance of the two, and the Tennessee River is proving to be another ground zero where swimbaits and bigbaits are on a collision course, in a tournament environment.