A new season starts in Alabama

After months of planning and preparation, the 2017 FLW Tour bass tournament season starts this week at Lake Guntersville, Ala.
Some 165 anglers are fishing the circuit this year and everybody is looking to get off to a good start, with the end goal for most anglers being to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup in August.
There are seven regular-season events this year—up from the six events that we have fished the past few years.
Each angler earns points based on where they finish in each event. And at the end of the season, whichever angler earns the most points will capture the Angler of the Year award and the $100,000 prize that goes with it.
The top 35 anglers in the points race qualify for the Cup, which has no entry fee event and a $300,000 first-place prize so it’s a big deal.
I missed qualifying for the Cup my first three years fishing the FLW Tour, but had a great season last year and qualified for my first one, which was an awesome experience.
It ended up being a tough tournament for me so I definitely want to get back there again this year for some redemption!
Lake Guntersville is one of the most famous bass fisheries in the U.S. and has played host to many pro tournaments over the years. The lake is going through somewhat of a downturn right now as I understand, but it still has a lot of big bass in it.
There will be some large catches brought in this weekend by the top finishers but, in general, the fishing is pretty tough.
Many of the anglers I’ve spoken with have been having a tough time simply catching a limit. But many of the fish are three- to six-pound bass so the weights generally will be pretty solid for those able to put five in the boat.
Through two days of practice, I was able to catch a limit on my first day and only a couple of “keepers” on the second one, so I have one day left to try and put a good game plan together before the tournament starts tomorrow (Feb. 2).
It’s definitely a challenge to put a plan together in three days on a lake that I’ve never fished a tournament on before, especially when the bite is tough like it is here right now, but that is part of the job.
For my last day of practice, my plan was to sample some more new water—looking for some of the things that have worked so far. I have caught most of my fish on lipless rattle baits and suspending jerkbaits, both of which are popular choices amongst anglers fishing this week.
The most important thing is just finding a good area that’s holding some fish because they aren’t everywhere right now.
Many people don’t realize it but if you are a fan of bass tournament fishing, you can play fantasy fishing on the FLW website. Fans can put a team together of 10 anglers for a chance to win prize money.
If you simply want to have some fun with your buddies, you can create your own private group to play against, as well.
You might not want to have me at the top of your list for this one if you play fantasy fishing based on my practice, but hopefully I can get a good plan together to put some fish in the boat on tournament day when it counts!
Look for my tournament report in next week’s column.