Consistency, confidence fuel White to Strike King co-angler win at Guntersville - Major League Fishing

Consistency, confidence fuel White to Strike King co-angler win at Guntersville

Image for Consistency, confidence fuel White to Strike King co-angler win at Guntersville
Eric White won Guntersville with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 53-14. Photo by Jody White. Angler: Eric White.
February 16, 2024 • Justin Onslow • Toyota Series

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – Last year, Cullman, Alabama, Strike King co-angler Eric White had what he called a “brutal season” that didn’t turn around until a third-place showing at Old Hickory Lake in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Super Tournament in September. White didn’t wait until the end of the 2024 season to get the train rolling, instead notching a win in his first Toyota Series event of the year at Guntersville with 53 pounds, 14 ounces for the tournament, nearly 2 pounds clear of second place.

White bested 259 other Strike King co-anglers in a massive field on a fishery that’s been pumping out huge bags. While White didn’t weigh in any truly monster limits, his consistency was above reproach. He sacked 18-13, 18-3 and 16-14, respectively, all while fishing from the back deck of three different boats in various areas of the lake.

It was a matter of making the right decisions for White, who fished in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Guntersville the Saturday before the Toyota Series Central Division opener. It was that time on the water, paired with the few practice days that followed, that allowed White to get familiar and comfortable with Guntersville’s massive, hungry bass population.

In fact, he happened to practice in the exact area that Day 2’s pro leader, Matt O’Connell, took him to start Day 3.

“I knew we were probably going to be fishing deep,” White said of O’Connell’s preferred tactics for the week. “He said he had a place down south that’s current-related, and we were going to be fishing deep throwing swimbaits.

“I said, ‘How far south?’ I know the area; I practiced there every morning leading into the BFL. I knew the ditch. I knew the fish. I knew the bait. It kind of set up perfectly for me.”

Ironically, that’s not at all how White caught his fish the first two days. On Day 1, he had his entire 18-13 limit in about 15 minutes after takeoff, all fishing shallow grass with a green pumpkin Berkley Slobberknocker. On Day 2, using the same bait, White gave his boater a new area to check out, at which the co-angler immediately landed a kicker. 

“I had been here for a week and a half, so I kind of had a pattern figured out,” White said. “I kind of gave him a breakdown of where in general we needed to be in terms of depth and type of grass – still green, no sludge, no slime. We pulled up on our first spot and my fourth or fifth cast I cracked a 5-pounder.

“And then it was a grind all the way to the end of the day. The last 30 minutes of the day, I was able to catch those last three to jack up that weigh to 18-3 and put me into first going into the final day.”

On Day 3, paired with O’Connell, White switched tactics and paired a 4-inch Rapala Crush City Mayor with a 1-ounce Pulse swim jig. That combination allowed White to get his bait deep enough to contend with the current and slowly pick off bass that were relating to the bottom. 

After nabbing a couple quality keepers at that spot, White went back to shallow grass fishing, green pumpkin ChatterBait in hand, and added a couple more keepers and a cull to piece together his winning bag.

The owner of Cotton State Construction, White has been documenting his journey as a co-angler with the intention of one day having a successful career at the front of the boat. 

“You hear everybody say that it’s a dream to do this,” he said. “On the back of my jersey, it says, ‘It’s more than just a dream. It’s a journey.’ This whole experience has been a journey for me, and I’m excited for the rest of the year. I want to keep the momentum rolling.”

It’s hard to not feel excited about the season with a big cardboard check for a brand-new Phoenix bass boat in hand. White still has a full schedule of events he plans to fish across multiple Toyota Series divisions. And he’s ready for them all.

“I’ve been fishing a lot of derbies over the MLF offseason and really just gaining confidence in areas and trusting my gut in a lot of things,” White said. “I’m really, really looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Top 10 Strike King co-anglers

1. Eric White – 53 – 14 (15) – $38,500

2. Mark Schlarb – 51 – 15 (15) – $8,000

3. Ike Gillentine – 51 – 04 (15) – $6,500

4. Rich Frey – 50 – 04 (15) – $5,000

5. Chris Bensel – 48 – 13 (14) – $4,650

6. Robert Russell – 47 – 12 (15) – $3,750

7. Lenny Bays – 47 – 11 (15) – $3,250

8. Brendan Johnson – 46 – 05 (15) – $2,500

9. Brady Lunsmann – 45 – 13 (14) – $1,800

10. Dakota Bishop – 45 – 04 (13) – $1,600

Complete results