Classic 2014: Bass Fishing Report
No matter the conditions, anglers should catch ‘em on Guntersville
Bassmaster Classic anglers should bag good limits at Guntersville whether it's snowing or not. (Courtesy B.A.S.S.)
Neither wind, nor cold, nor sleet nor snow should thwart the 56 competitors in the 2014 Geico Bassmaster Classic. Bass fishing reports from Lake Guntersville say it's the prime time for big bags.
Guntersville guide Brent Crow, 43, has fished the 67,000-acre lake for 25 years. He has been up and down its 70 miles and knows a thing or two about tournaments there, having competed in various derbies for 15 years.
Caught inside on day when you’d have to break ice at the boat ramps, he gave a rundown of what to expect in the 44th Classic. Last year’s event at Grand Lake near Tulsa was a frigid affair, with snow in practice and icy temps throughout, and that could happen this Feb. 21-23.
Guide Brent Crow caught this hefty largemouth on Lake Guntersville in March. (Courtesy North Alabama Guide Service)
“We could have 60 degrees and sunny or 20 degrees and snowing,” Crow said, “but it should not affect the fishing at all. Guntersville, the fish there are backwards, or crazy. Some of the best days on the lake in February are when it’s snowing.
“You think of wintertime deep fishing, but at Guntersville it seems the colder it gets, the shallower they get. There’s going to be more caught in 5 foot or less than deeper.”
Last year, Crow said he fished a Rat-L-Trap event on “absolutely the most miserable day I’ve ever been fishing. It started out 20 degrees and had sleet. It was like somebody had a giant beanbag and was dumping it. I had about an inch in the boat.”
The winner came in with 27 pounds. Another event his team caught a 9 ½ pounder and had 27 pound but knew going to the weigh-in there weren’t going to win. They finished fifth with the winners totaling 32 pounds.
February is big fish time on Guntersville, and Crow said he thinks this Classic could be decided by several big bites. The largemouth bass record is 14 pounds, 8 ounces.
“Anytime you hear about a double digit fish, it’s always in February,” he said. “The 10s, 11s, the 13 last year. February is always the best time to catch big fish. The females are full of eggs and shallow and probably more accessible than any other time of year.”
Crow’s North Alabama Guide Service says that Lake Guntersville is the jewel of the Tennessee River lakes, and it’s considered one the top bass destinations in the world. It ranks No. 3 in Bassmaster’s top 100 lakes.
The fishery has something for every type of angler. It’s riverine in the top third and has plenty of creeks and flats in the lower end, with tons of vegetation.
The Alabama Rig has dominated events there the past several years from February to April – Crow can only remember one other that was won with a jig – but since multiple lure devices aren’t allowed in the Classic, anglers will go with a variety of big bite baits, from the Rat-L-Traps to jerkbaits, to jigs and swimbaits.
“I think between 25 and 30 pounds is possible,” he said. “I think a 25-pound average over three days. There’s going to be a bunch of people that have between 20 and 27 pounds a day, every day.”
He said a bag topping the Classic single day record of 29-6 is a definite possibility, but don’t expect an angler to duplicate it. He said there are several community spots where a number of big stringers are caught consistently, but the lake regulars might ruin the party.
“The locals are not going to not fish the lake,” Crow said. “So some of those community holes are going to be hard to have all to yourself for three days.”
The entire field fishes the first two days then is cut for the final Sunday. Some anticipate the Classic record of 69 pounds, 11 ounces set in 2011 on the Louisiana Delta by Kevin VanDam might be eclipsed.
Chris Lane, the 2012 Classic champion who lives on Guntersville, has predicted a winning weight to be around 83 pounds, or 27.6 pounds each day.
“If the winner beats 75 pounds over three days,” Crow said, “I’m going to be shocked.”