The Bassmaster Elite Series is headed to Lake Guntersville for the 23rd time in a major tour level event. Just 9 months before the iconic 50th Bassmaster Classic visits the same body of water in 2020. Although Guntersville is no stranger to top tier bass tournaments, it is unusual to see a tournament held this time of year. Anglers will not only have to battle the heat; they will also have to factor in the local fishing and recreational boating traffic that is well into full swing.
This time of year, offshore structure will play an important role in catching numbers of fish. Summertime Guntersville is known for bass moving deeper to school on offshore structure. Anglers will need to key in on subtle differences to locate areas that hold fish better than others. Characteristics like channel ledges meeting main lake ledges, bottom composition changes, or certain vegetation combinations could be the difference. Finding these spots could yield bites on every cast from time to time depending on the size of the school.
Finding several of these spots will be necessary to last an entire four-day tournament. It’s common for hard hit areas to run out and stop producing a day or two into the event, although there have been instances in the past where that was not the case. Formulating a pattern early on will most certainly help anglers make it to the final day. The one uncontrollable factor that will play a role in how anglers adapt is fishing pressure.
Elite Series Pro, Seth Feider believes the fishing will be tougher. “Ledge fish will have been on those places for at least a month before we get there so they will be beat to death”. With high pressure fishing, finesse tactics like the drop shot and Neko rig will prevail in getting bites. Feider also thinks current will play a major role in activating the ledge fish into feeding mode. “Without them pulling current I think the ledge bite is going to be pretty tough,” Feider said.
Along with the ledge bite, you will also see anglers heading towards the grass where bass will be covering themselves from the summertime Guntersville heat. These bites will most likely be few and far between, but the reward can be substantial with landing one of the many giants that live in the lake. Getting five bites and executing perfectly will be the top priority for anglers that choose the shallow water strategy.
A big factor for the shallow bite will be the stage the grass is in. If it’s all matted up, punch rigs will be a necessity to reach the bass below them. If growth is still needed, expect to see swim jigs and swimbaits play in getting the monster bites. “I think guys will have to get in the grass and throw a frog and swim jig, maybe flip a little bit,” Feider said.
With Guntersville there is also the “community holes” around the bridges that become highways for bait and bass, especially when current is being pulled. Even though they are well known, high place finishes are consistently achieved year after year. Even during the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, Randy Howell utilized them to seal the deal in his victory.
Regardless of the conditions, one thing is for certain, big bass are going to be caught! Anglers head out for the first day of competition on June 21st from Goose Pond.