GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Casey Ashley and the rest of Group B took to the Tennessee River Wednesday for Day 1 of their Qualifying Round at Toro Stage Four Presented by Bass Cat of the Bass Pro Tour on legendary Lake Guntersville. The Costa Sunglasses pro admitted that he intends to use his eyes to locate bass this week as much as he’ll use his electronics – something you might not expect to hear at a TVA tournament in mid-May.
“You keep hearing it from everybody but this ain’t the same Guntersville of the past,” the South Carolina pro said. “The water is so clear right now in this lake it’s hardly recognizable. I’ve got a few offshore places I’ll stop at throughout the day, but most of my time is going to be spent looking shallow.”
Like we’ve heard from many competitors, Ashley explained that the abundance of eelgrass in Lake Guntersville is not only making certain techniques difficult or impossible to fish, but it’s cleaned the water clarity up in such a way that Guntersville is fishing like a different lake.
“The water clarity is showing we might not know as much about the bass in this pond as we thought we did,” Ashley said. “We’ve come here a bunch of times in my career, and you never heard anyone talking about bream beds. I mean, I had never seen a bream bed here in my life. I don’t know if that’s just because you couldn’t see them with the dirtier water or what, but you can sure see them this week and that’s what I’m planning to target.”
Ashley spent some hours in practice graphing with his Lowrance electronics, but he spent just as much time covering water on his trolling motor looking for bass and bluegill spawning beds. He’d drop a waypoint anytime he would see or spook a quality bass and will revisit those spots throughout the week relying predominantly on a wacky-rigged Zoom Trick Worm, though he plans to keep a topwater honest when the conditions call for it.
Targeting bream beds and resident shallow bass is one of Ashley’s favorite ways to fish, and is a tactic made much easier with the right pair of sunglasses. Ashley is wearing Costa’s Corbina PRO frame and says the Sunrise Silver lens color has been a major key when visually picking off shallow bass. Small details and subtleties are paramount with any kind of sight fishing.
“Sunrise Silver is the deal for overcast conditions like we have today, but honestly this lens has become my favorite whether it’s sunny or cloudy,” Ashley said. “I’m actually colorblind and there is just something about the contrast you get with Sunrise Silver that helps me see more fish, which leads to catching more fish.”
While Lake Guntersville has undergone a lot of changes, the intense fishing pressure has remained consistent, and Ashley said you need to use every trick in the playbook to catch big shallow bass in this fishery. Long casts, finesse presentations, Power-Poles locking your position and lots of patience will be crucial for Ashley and other Bass Pro Tour competitors looking to catch skinny water largemouth on Guntersville this week.