The first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Guntersville was a welcome departure from the grumblings of practice. Though fans weren’t treated to multiple 30-pound limits on the pro side, like at the Walmart Bass Fishing League event at Guntersville a couple of weekends ago, it still took more than 25 pounds to get into the top five on day one of this Mercury-presented tournament.
Cameron Gautney led the way, but the rest of the top pros are applying plenty of pressure.
Read about Gautney’s day one here. What follows are the patterns of the rest of the top five pros.
2nd Place – Joe Hall – 28 pounds, 1 ounce
Joe Hall, currently in second place, traveled all the way from Lake City, Minn., to fish Guntersville for the first time in 10 years. It took him a little while to get warmed up on day one, but he eventually put together an impressive 28-pound, 1-ounce limit.
“It started pretty tough, to be honest,” says Hall. “I didn’t have a very good boat number, and a lot of my areas up shallow were covered up.”
But then things clicked. After at first struggling to relocate to some deep fish as a second option, Hall managed to find that group of fish again, pushed up a little shallower at a nearby staging spot. He proceeded to catch the fire out of them with a chartreuse-colored lipless crankbait.
“Tomorrow will be a lot tougher,” says Hall. “I don’t think there’s anything left there. I fished my spot until I was done. I had to because there were other boats around us that saw it all. I think it should reload, and we lost enough that there are still some there, but I don’t have high hopes for it.”
3rd Place – Casey Martin – 26 pounds, 12 ounces
Walmart FLW Tour pro and Guntersville guide Casey Martin opted to avoid the lake’s best-known community holes in putting together his 26-pound, 12-ounce limit, which has him in third place.
“No bridges; not a single fish off a bridge,” joked Martin at weigh-in. “I caught them dirt shallow on a Rat-L-Trap Echo 1.75 in a pocket. I struggled at first, and I had about 11 pounds for a while. Then I pulled into a little pocket that I hadn’t fished in like two years, made seven casts and caught four of them. Then I got out before anybody could see me.”
Despite making the most of the fish staging in the pocket, Martin is far from confident that he can go back to it and experience the same level of success again.
“I’m big-time concerned about tomorrow, plus Gautney just weighed 33 pounds, so I have some ground to make up,” he adds. “I checked a lot of my other stuff today, and I didn’t get bit. I’m hoping the sun gets them going tomorrow.”
4th Place – Drew Benton – 26 pounds, 4 ounces
Close behind Martin is the second Walmart FLW Tour stalwart in the top 10, Florida’s Drew Benton.
Benton is targeting riprap with a Bagley crankbait. He caught most of his weight at his first stop but is fishing all over the mid-lake area. Though he is catching a few fish in front of bridges with a swimbait, the young pro isn’t planning for that to be a crucial part of his strategy tomorrow.
“I left a lot of stuff untouched today, so I think it could hold up,” Benton says. “I’m not doing anything too different, but I’m not just fishing down random riprap. I have some specific stretches that I’m targeting.”
5th Place – Jay Kendrick – 25 pounds, 6 ounces
Local experience was critical for Jay Kendrick today as he put together a 25-pound, 6-ounce limit to open the tournament in fifth place.
“I live here, and I’ve fished here for 40 years,” says Kendrick. “I feel like I have a good handle on what the fish are doing right now. I practiced a lot, but I didn’t spend much time on the good areas.
“I had five schools of fish, and I went to two of them today, so I think I’m saving a little,” he adds.
With few details to go on, we can say this much about the tight-lipped Kendrick: He’s not fishing an umbrella rig, and he is targeting some extremely specific locations.