Gunning for Guntersville - Major League Fishing

Gunning for Guntersville

Mad dash upriver heralds FLW’s day two in Alabama
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Katsutoshi Furusawa landed in ninth place in the Pro Division on opening day by catching a limit of bass like this one. Photo by Yasutaka Ogasawara. Angler: Katsutoshi Furusawa.
May 12, 2005 • Jeff Schroeder • Archives

DECATUR, Ala. – Quashing any doubt about which river pool is preferred this week, practically every boat in the first three flights pointed their bows upriver and ran toward Guntersville Lake at Thursday’s takeoff for day two of Wal-Mart FLW Tour competition at Wheeler Lake.

The anglers got the message yesterday when almost all of the top catches came back from the big-bass lake one pool up the Tennessee River. As FLW tournament starter Gary Peck called out numbers for all 200 boats this morning, the first boats to turn around and head downriver on Wheeler Lake didn’t start doing so until about boat No. 150 or so. Even then, just a trickle of them went the other way.

Anglers are keying on an early-morning, shallow, postspawn bite in Guntersville, which is why getting there first means a little more than usual this week. It also explains why some of the last boats to leave decided it would be best just to turn around and try their wares in Wheeler. Plus, concerns about barge traffic and locking time to get into Guntersville Wednesday didn’t pan out as badly as anglers feared before the tournament.

Fans watch as FLW boats take off onto Wheeler Lake under the Hwy. 31 bridge at Decatur.However, lest you think Wheeler is being shortchanged by FLW pros this week, consider the case of Jonathan Newton. In seventh place after day one, he was the only pro in the top 10 who said he didn’t run to Guntersville Wednesday. All of his fish, including some nice 5-pounders, came from Wheeler.

“I made up my mind to start by not locking up,” he said. “I knew there was potential for 20-pound bags right here.”

He would know. Newton, a local from Russellville, Ala., won a 2003 EverStart Series Central Division event downriver on Pickwick Lake and top-fived right here on his home lake, Wheeler, in a BFL Choo Choo Division event last year.

Then there was Clark Wendlandt, the beleaguered two-time FLW Angler of the Year who has yet to break the top 100 this year. Yesterday he said he locked down to Wilson Lake, the next pool downriver, and went in search of smallmouths. He caught a limit, but still languishes in 87th place with just 10 pounds 2 ounces.

“Just wait. I’ll get them tomorrow,” Wendlandt said Wednesday afternoon.

Still, all eyes are turned upriver toward Guntersville and the likes of Larry Nixon, Kelly Jordon, Koby Kreiger and the others who caught them big and quickly, then came home early to sit in the sunshine yesterday. Conditions are similar, so expect more of the same today.

Both fields will be cut to the top 10 anglers apiece after Thursday’s fishing. Tenth-place pro Alvin Shaw is sitting on a weight of 17 pounds, 8 ounces, so expect the cut to hover around 32 pounds or so. Co-anglers are staring at about 15 pounds needed to make the cut.

Wednesday’s weigh-in takes place at 3 p.m. Central time at Riverwalk Marina on Highway 31 in Decatur.

For bass-fishing fans unable to attend the festivities in person, you can catch all the weigh-in action live at with FLW Live. Show time starts at 3 p.m. Central.

Thursday’s conditions:

Sunrise: 5:48 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 70 degrees

Expected high temperature: 90 degrees

Wind: SSE at 8 mph

Maximum humidity: 47 percent

Day’s outlook: mostly sunny