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2015 Diet Mtn Dew Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville

Preview

In 2015, B.A.S.S. celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Bassmaster Elite Series with a schedule that commemorates some of the greatest events in bass fishing history. Six of the sites have hosted Elite tournaments in the past decade, and all eight fisheries are among the finest venues the sport has to offer for the best anglers in the business.

“It’s fitting that the 10th Elite Series season features such prominent and important fisheries,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin in announcing the 2015 schedule. “The schedule spans the country from coast to coast and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and it includes some of the very best bass lakes and rivers in the country — and some of the most challenging.”

Tour Review

The pitfalls of previous experience

There are times when knowing a lot about a lake can work to your advantage, but there are others when it can work against you.

That’s what happened to me at Lake Guntersville last week. I’ve fished there several times, and with all that history in my head, I had a difficult time fishing with an open mind.

The solution, as simple as it sounds, is to examine the exact conditions of a lake at each moment and make decisions based upon what patterns might prevail.

It’s only natural to fall back on past experiences when things aren’t going well, but you really have to focus and get as much current information before making a decision on where and how to fish.

That’s important on places like Guntersville in the spring where a lot of variables come into play, like the changing grass patterns, enormous fishing pressure and fickle nature of the fish.

Our event was held when vacationing anglers from around the country converged on Guntersville, knowing spring is the time to catch big fish.

I could count at least 40 boats in every area I went.

Another factor was that the bass were in all phases of the spawn and were constantly on the move. Conditions changed by the hour.

Just look how this thing shook out. Skeet Reese said he had a horrible practice and wound up winning. I had a solid practice, shaking off several 5 pound fish, yet I found myself a step behind during competition.

Also, you couldn’t fish fast because the fish were scattered. You had to be methodical, fishing for individual fish that were spawning, just finishing the spawn or coming into the spawning area.

The mood of the big fish and locations they used changed by the hour. That’s what makes fishing spawning bass such a fickle time of the season.

Mike Iaconelli handled it well. He didn’t win, but he did a great job of blocking out the past and fishing the right structures at the right time of day based on the conditions he saw.

A lot of guys who have a good history on this lake struggled because they did the same as me; instead of staying on top of the conditions they fished areas they caught them in the past.

Also, I shouldn’t have let the local fishing pressure affect the decisions I made. I tried to stay away from those areas getting pounded, overlooking the fact that wind direction and conditions were right for many of those spots. I should have gotten right in there and slugged it out with them.

Instead, I’d tell myself I know of a better spawning pocket and drive by several others that better suited the current conditions.

In a tournament like this, you have to make the right adjustments early and then grind it out to get a good stringer. You need the key bite early to clue you in, not four or five hours later in the tournament.

It’s hard to not get caught up in past experiences, but to be a highly successful angler you must force yourself to pay close attention to the weather patterns, water temperature, wind direction and the lake’s power generation schedule when choosing places to fish. You have to monitor conditions by the minute and rely on your observation skills - not what happened in previous years.

Once again, I learned a lot in this tournament and will put that experience to good use in the future!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

KVD from the final day on Lake Guntersville
Saving Guntersville habitat

I fished my first tournament at Guntersville in 1989, and I’ve seen it at its best, and when the grass was gone, I saw it at its worst.

It’s pretty good right now. In fact, extremely phenomenal.

But I’m concerned. A lot of the grass we saw when the Classic was held here in 2014 is gone.

Quite a bit, in fact. Many of the flats are barren and the lush grass beds that once inhabited the lake are gone.

That may leave some people to say, so what? It’s still very good without the grass. But that’s a short term effect, just as it was in the 90s when the grass was eradicated and the fishery went downhill.

If you want an example of what can happen without grass, look one lake down from Guntersville and see how Wheeler Lake, once another outstanding bass lake, has been affected. Now that the grass has been killed off, you simply don’t hear much about it anymore.

The purpose of my comments is to remind the local community and anglers how good this lake is today and how important it is for them to do all they can to protect it.

With grass, Guntersville has been producing great catches of bass and other species as well.

I’ll acknowledge that there are natural occurrences that have diminished the amount of cover in the lake.  However, lake property owners complained about grass around their docks last year and chemical applications were applied heavily. I understand the need to tamper down the vegetation that creates boating issues around the shore, but there has to be a delicate balance to controlling grass and maintaining an outstanding fishery.

Of course, there were other factors, like flooding and the long, abnormally cold winter we had that kills or limits vegetation growth. Those are tough to predict, but when coupled with excessive weed treatments, the lake’s ecosystem suffers.

Weedless flats limit the places for bass to forage and for young of the year gamefish to hide. It makes them more susceptible to being caught. Lack of cover affects the forage greatly, and you wind up with slow-growing, skinny bass that do survive.

Without habitat, a lake doesn’t have the means to support such a huge population. Imagine what happens when a farmer moves his big herd of cattle off 100 acres into a 10-acre pasture. He winds up with fewer healthy cows.

Grass expands the living space for all species and is the primary reason this lake is drawing thousands of tourist anglers every year. That has been evident during the time we’ve been here; hundreds of non-tournament anglers are fishing everywhere on the lake.

There’s no doubt that this week’s tournament will showcase just how great Guntersville is right now. This could be one of the best tournaments ever held here, but remember that’s a testament to the habitat this lake has embraced in previous years.

Like so many of my competitors, I love Guntersville. We all have great memories here. But it’s important that the lake’s local and state caretakers realize that it’s superb now because of the habitat.

To maintain one of the best bass lakes in the country, you have to live with the inconveniences the grass may cause and see it as the blessing that it is.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude! 

KVD day 1 - Lake Guntersville

2015 Diet Mtn Dew Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville
Lake Guntersville, , Alabama
Apr 9 - Apr 13, 2015

Leaderboard

1
Skeet Reese - 92.11
2
Byron Velvick - 88.1
3
Derek Remitz - 85.5
4
David Walker - 84.8
5
Keith Combs - 83.6
6
Carl Jocumsen - 81.15
7
Jason Christie - 81.15
8
Greg Vinson - 78.14
9
Brent Ehrler - 78.1
10
Chad Morgenthaler - 76.6
11
Dean Rojas - 75.4
12
Michael Iaconelli - 72.7
45
Kevin VanDam - 47.6