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2010 Elite Series - Southern Challenge


Last year, four anglers joined the Century Club after catching 100 pounds or more from Lake Guntersville. This year, don’t expect any.

It’s not that fishing will be bad when the Synergy Southern Challenge begins Thursday, but the numerous 4-pound class fish that were widespread a year ago seem to be much harder to track down.

For a comparison, last year Mark Menendez estimated he caught 500 keepers over the course of the tournament, with half of those being over 4 pounds. This year is a different story.

“It’s not like it was last year,” Menendez said. “It’s good as Guntersville always is and you can find groups of fish, but I have yet to crack the code on any big fish.”

Tour Review

KVD's reaction to Guntersville

This was an interesting tournament. We had all that rain down here which pushed the water up and generated a lot of current. The crankbait bite was hot all during practice. You could catch them on almost every grass point out in the main lake — just throw and crank. That’s all there was to it.

That pattern held through the first day of the event. Then things changed. The water stopped rising and they stopped pulling. My crankbait bite on the main lake went to heck. It took me awhile to get another pattern going and by then it was too late to boat the kind of weight that you needed to win. What do they say, timing is everything? That was certainly true this week.

Today was especially frustrating. I just couldn’t put enough big ones in the boat to get it done. As I look back on it I realize I got a few bites that fooled me into thinking something was going on that wasn’t. By the time I realized I’d been fooled it was too late to do anything about it. I finished 9th, but that’s fishing.

You know, when you get a couple of bites you have to try to figure out what they mean, what the fish are doing and how they are responding. Basically, that’s how you put a pattern together. Usually I can do that. Today belonged to the fish, however. Chalk one up for them. They earned it.

I’m telling you, though, this lake is beyond belief. It’s ugly good. I caught over 75 bass a day, every day. Today I caught 150 if I caught one. I mean they just kept biting no matter what else was going on around them. They absolutely didn’t care about anything except eating.

It’s a phenomenal lake. If you get the chance make sure you come down here for a few days. You won’t regret it.

KVD back in the mix, 9th overall

KVD’s final day thoughts:
Final Day Thoughts: “I really thought that I would have a better day. The one school that I had, the big ones just didn’t show up.

Key Baits: Strike King Series 5 and 6XD in Chartreuse Sexy Shad and Sexy shad, Strike King Caffeine Shad.

Biggest Challenge: “I really needed the river current to position my fish and it just didn’t do that consistently.”

Key to the Week: “Five of the 20 bass that I weighed in this week came shallow. It’s just hard to be consistent and catch the bigger ones. We had perfect conditions to fish shallow and I found some good ones up there.”

Week in Review: “It was a good week but I just never got the big bites that I needed.”


KVD posted his best finish in Elite competition thus far this year with a ninth. VanDam moved up to 22nd in the Angler of the Year standings and will look to make a charge to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason, which only includes the top 12 anglers from the regular-season AOY standings.

Next up on the Elite Series schedule is the Pride of Georgia on Clarks Hill Lake May 20-23.


“Everywhere you looked out there today you could see bass being caught.”
Kevin VanDam

After a notable absence from the top 12 for the first half of the Elite Series season, Kevin VanDam finally got back into form at the Synergy Southern Challenge. His 66 pounds, 2 ounces of Lake Guntersville bass over three days has him in fifth place and will bring in some much needed points if he hopes to make a run at the postseason in July.

“I’ve been fishing as hard as I can, I just have had a few hard breaks,” VanDam said, referring to making the cut in only two tournaments and finishing no higher than 22nd since winning the Classic in February.

Lake Guntersville has seemed to be the right cure for whatever was ailing KVD and another bag over 20 pounds on Day Three has him fishing on Sunday for the first time this season.

“This week you need to have a 7- or 8-pounder and I don’t think I have had one over 5 pounds,” VanDam said. “This lake is definitely my favorite. Over the years, I’ve done well here. Everybody is catching them — it’s a fantastic lake.”

With a victory and six top-five finishes on the fabled reservoir, VanDam has Guntersville dialed in and looks to make it seven top-five finishes when he takes to the water on Day Four.

Day 2 quotes

“There were fishermen on pretty much everything I fished yesterday, and that makes it tough.”
Kevin VanDam

“I lost a 5-pounder and a 6-pounder back to back today … that pretty much crushes your hopes of making the cut.” — Mike Iaconelli

“I’ve been married to the same woman for over 50 years, but only spent 25 of those years with her … The rest I spent fishing.”
— Guy Eaker

“I’ve never had so much fun losing $10,000.”
— Terry Scroggins

“I’ve got two or three sweet spots out there, that only hold 4 and 5-pounders.”
— Derek Remitz

“I think the only way I can catch Skeet is to hit him in the knee with a baseball bat.”
— Gerald Swindle

Day 1 quotes

“If you don’t have 25 pounds we ain’t talking.” – Emcee Keith Alan “I don’t know what it will take, but it is gonna be a shootout. It’s going to take a lot of weight.” – Paul Elias

“There’s a lot of fish up shallow, but it’s going to be won deep.” – Dean Rojas

“I can’t believe they caught them this good without any water running in the lake.” – Gerald Swindle

“I was feeling good about my day until I got up here and saw the weights.” – Dennis Tietje

“I probably caught 200 fish today and threw back two or three 25-pound limits.” – Skeet Reese

“I thought 16 pounds might be good out here this year, but 18 pounds won’t even get you a clap.” – Dustin Wilks

“It doesn’t get much better than Guntersville.” – Gary Klein

“I caught a lot of 4- and 5-pounders today, just never caught any big ones.” – Derek Remitz

2010 Elite Series - Southern Challenge
Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, Alabama
May 6 - May 9, 2010


Skeet Reese - 100-13
1. 29-3, 2. 24-1, 3. 21-10, 4. 25-15
Davy HIte - 93-3
1. 24-7, 2. 27-0, 3. 28-6, 4. 13-6
John Crews - 92-11
1. 18-0, 2. 24-15, 3. 28-4, 4. 21-8
Morizo Shimizu - 92-5
1. 24-3, 2. 20-10, 3. 20-7, 4. 27-1
Russ Lane - 91-15
1. 23-15, 2. 23-11, 3. 17-14, 4. 26-7
Paul Alias - 89-14
1. 26-12, 2. 18-10, 3. 18-6, 4. 26-2
Cliff Pace - 88-13
1. 23-6, 2. 22-13, 3. 19-12, 4. 22-14
Mark Davis - 88-10
1. 27-12, 2. 23-10, 3. 15-9, 4. 21-11
Kevin VanDam - 83-9
1. 20-6, 2. 22-12, 3. 23-0, 4. 17-7
Fred Roumbanis - 82-8
1. 27-11, 2. 16-15, 3. 18-11, 4. 19-3
Stephen Browning - 82-6
1. 26-1, 2. 19-5, 3. 18-7, 4. 18-9
Derek Remitz - 72-1
1. 24-5, 2. 22-5, 3. 17-8, 4. 7-15

History & Notes;

Big Bass
Day 3 – Davy Hite 7-14
Day 4 – Paul Elias 8-2

— Skeet Reese overcame a dramatic 5 pound deficit on the final day to over take Davy Hite for the top spot.