GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – So far 2011 has been one for the record books in the world of professional tournament fishing.
First, there was the amazing Walmart FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee which rewrote some 28 individual records in FLW Tour history.
Then, last week, the Bassmaster Classic saw several of its records fall on the Louisiana Delta in a spectacular display of big bass in the Big Easy.
This week, the pros fishing the EverStart Southeast event on Lake Guntersville are hoping to follow suit with some record-breaking catches as well.
Timing has been a key element in some of the records broken this year: a sudden warm-up after a brutal cold winter sent big bass on rampages at Okeechobee and in Louisiana. A similiar suddenly-spring phenomenon could be in the cards this week at Guntersville as well.
During practice, pros have experienced that same ominous fishing-is-not-as-good-as-it-should-be feeling that preceded the Okeechobee and Delta melees.
“Remember what happened at the Classic last week?” questioned Power-Pole pro Chris Lane of Guntersville, Ala. “That same thing could happen here. Practice has not been that strong, but I have a feeling it’s going to bust wide open any minute now – we’re right on the verge.”
Even though many pros have been bellyaching about slack lines here at the world-famous Guntersville, Lane predicts big weights, with 20-pound limits extending down past the 10th place mark after day one.
“All the ingredients are coming together perfectly,” said Lane, who won an EverStart event on Guntersville in the fall of 2009. “We’ve had a big warm-up. The water temps have come up. There’s a front approaching.”
“Two days ago I might have said it’s going to be a little tougher than normal, but now I’m changing my tune,” Lane added.
Straight Talk pro JT Kenney echoed the same sentiments.
“Up until yesterday morning, I’d have said this tournament was going to be off the normal Guntersville standard,” Kenney explained as he scrolled through his cell phone to show off a picture of a giant bass. “But late this afternoon, Ol’ Brutus showed up – that one is over ten. I’m sure a few of these guys are on a wad of these and I hope I’m one of them.”
As a full field of pros and co-anglers roared out of Lake Guntersville State Park this morning, a vast majority of them headed up river and the reason is simple: warmer water.
“The water up in the river is about 10 degrees warmer,” Lane reported. “It’s nearly 60 degrees up there and down the lake it’s still struggling to get into the 50’s. The bite is probably better going up, but if the lower end turns on during the event, it will be wide open. I’m kind of anticipating that and I’ll be checking the lower end every afternoon during the tournament.”
Anglers will take off from Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Ala., at 7 each morning. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will also be held at Lake Guntersville State Park beginning at 3 p.m.
Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 11697 U.S. 431 in Guntersville at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
Temperature at takeoff: 53 degrees
Expected high temperature: 71 degrees
Water temperature: 50 to 60 degrees
Wind: South at 15 mph
Day’s outlook: warm, balmy, breezy with a threat of thunderstorms