GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – A flip through the leaderboard after Day 1 of the Toyota Series Championship Presented by A.R.E. on Lake Guntersville should let you know right off the bat that this isn’t a totally normal fall derby on the Tennessee River. Multiple local guides are buried in the standings without a limit, only one person in the Top 10 is punching, notable LiveScope addict Kyle Hall is in seventh, and a bunch of Western pros are knocking it out of the park.
The book on how to fish Guntersville in the fall has been written a thousand times, but at least early on, it looks like another chapter may be added this week.
“I think I had a limit by 11, fishing shallow, in the grass,” Faber said. “Then, it was tough for a while; then I went and fished some deeper grass, punchin’, and I got lucky and caught a couple good ones.
“It’s a great day to get lucky. I hope I get lucky again tomorrow, but we’re just going to go fishing and see what happens”
Faber caught a good number of fish on a day that many struggled, and he looks to be on to something, at least to some degree.
“I don’t know that I saw this coming,” he said. “I was hoping I could catch 15 or 16 pounds. But, the early fish were kind of surprising, I may have figured out a little something today. I ran some new water and caught some fish.”
Qualifying out of the Southwestern Division, Faber isn’t experienced on Guntersville; but he does love to fish grass, so he had high hopes when he pointed his truck east.
“I love grass fishing,” he said. “Colorado is not a good place to live and bass fish. I fish a lot of rock. I love fishing grass, I lived in East Texas for a couple years, and I just love it. They live there, most people are going to catch them out of the grass on Guntersville, and I just had a blessed day.”
Firmly part of the variety theme, Scout Echols knocked out a big limit with a pretty junky day.
“I was junk fishing, just a little bit of everything – flipping, A-rig, jerkbait,” said the Arkie. “I ran around, the fish are moving, we just ran into the right ones today and fished clean.”
Boxing fewer than 10 keepers, Echols caught the right size and has a bit of a pattern or two going.
“I have a couple key areas I feel like have a little bit bigger fish in them, just targeting grass lines and bait pushed in the back of pockets,” he said. “We really don’t have grass lakes where I’m from, but I’ve learned a lot about grass fishing this year. I just played it out today, and we’re going to go see what we can do tomorrow.”
Tristan McCormick held the lead for a total of about 10 minutes on Thursday before he was dethroned by Castledine. The Tennessee pro didn’t get a lot of bites, but he made them count when he got them.
“I knew it was going to be a grind today so all I was looking for was five bites,” McCormick said. “I had seven bites all day and made them count. I feel like I left some out there, so I’ll go give it all I got tomorrow.”
McCormick spent his day fishing the Guntersville grass, rotating between a duo of typical baits for this time of the year. He found a good stretch of grass patches during practice that helped him out today, so expect to see him doing the same thing on Friday.
“I’m just sticking in the grass like everybody else with a Strike King Thunder Cricket with a Strike King Rage Swimmer on the back and an Alabama rig,” McCormick said. “I have about a 10-mile stretch I call my ‘milk run’ where I know I can get some bites. I’ll run through it again tomorrow and hopefully pick up some more bites.”
California pro Mark Lassagne has finished 128th, 120th and 79th in his previous trips east for the Toyota Series Championship. Now, he’s off to a much better start than usual, and he feels pretty good about it.
“I’m doing something a little bit different than I think everyone else is doing,” he said. “I’m fishing offshore grass, and I’ll tell you the bait I’m throwing … later.
“It’s a specific pattern. I fished pretty close and had four fish, and then I started running around. I probably only caught about eight fish today, I’m catching pretty good ones, not a lot.”
With 19 pounds in the boat by about 1 p.m., Lassange didn’t really need the super-long day he was dealt; so he may be in good shape to keep things rolling on Day 2.
“I’m just trying to do something different,” he said. “This lake gets so much pressure. I think I can do OK tomorrow, I thought my bag was going to be about 15 or 18 pounds, and I ended up getting an extra good one today.”