Tough Fishing on Lake Guntersville

The Bassmaster Elites Series season resumed last week with the first of three events in a row at Lake Guntersville in Northern Alabama. Guntersville is one of the most historic bass fishing lakes in the U.S., hosting dozens of big tournaments over the years.
When I left for Alabama last week to get ready for this event, I was excited to get back on the road and finish off the season. It’s a big run with four tournaments over the next six weeks in Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas to wrap things up. My goal is to finish in the top 40 in points at the end of the season in order to qualify for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic. Heading into this last stretch I was in 35th place in the points standings so I was in a good spot but I had some pressure to finish strong.
Typically our season runs through the spring and summer, usually finishing up at some point in August but after several events were cancelled this spring, they were rescheduled for fall. Most of the anglers in our field have not fished these lakes this time of year, including myself and the general consensus was that the fishing was going to be tough. The temperatures are still hot in the south and it’s just a tough time to bass fish, unlike at home in NW Ontario where our fish are feeding like crazy to bulk up for a long winter ahead.
After three days of prefishing, it was evident that the fishing on Guntersville was going to be tough. I was able to catch several keepers each day and had a few areas where I felt like I would be able to catch my five fish limit in the tournament but it wasn’t going to be easy. The first day didn’t start out very well as I didn’t catch my first keeper fish until 11 a.m. but I was able to put six bass over the 15” minimum in the boat during the afternoon. I ended up with 13-15 on day one, to land in 25th spot. I was relieved that I had survived one day.
After another slow start on day two, I was finally able to get it going and catch another limit in the afternoon, moving me up to 24th and keeping me in the top 40 cut to fish day three. I changed up my morning routine on day three and managed to catch a nice one early but my afternoon plan didn’t work out as good as it had the previous two days, leaving me with four fish to bring to the scales, finishing the tournament in 28th place. I was happy to end up inside the top 40 in this event and earn some money as well as good points. My best baits in this tournament were a ¾ ounce Z-Man spinnerbait and a fluke-style soft jerkbait fished weightless.
In the past I have struggled in some of these tough fishing tournaments in the south because I’m not used to fishing for only five or six bites a day around home and different techniques than I’m used to using are often utilized by southern anglers on these fisheries. So to leave with a solid finish makes me happy and gives me some momentum as we move on to Santee Cooper Lake in South Carolina this week.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to fish to win and finish as high as possible in these tournaments but sometimes you have to go with the best stuff you find in practice and that’s how it worked out in this one. My finish moved me up a few spots to 30th in the points race so I’m one step closer to qualifying for the Classic. Three more tournaments to go.