The epic, 3-day 2014 Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament completed this weekend in Alabama. This “Super Bowl” of bass fishing was a battle of 56 anglers competing for the prestigious title. Simply qualifying to compete in this event is a huge success. I drove over 12 hours to attend my 4th Classic and soaked up as much bass fishing info as possible, even interviewing former Bassmaster Classic Champion, Chris Lane, about fishing with his kids.
By catching 15 largemouth bass weighing a total of 67.8 pounds, Randy Howell walked away with a check for $300,000. His life will never be the same.
Randy was quoted as saying the final day of the tournament was “the best day I’ve ever had in 21 years of professional bass fishing.” Though this Alabaman’s first and second days on his “home lake” weren’t too shabby, he began the final day nine pounds behind the leader, Edwin Evers. This great day on the water was witnessed by many spectators on a bridge and caught on film thanks to GoPro cameras mounted on the boat.
For the most part, the water in Lake Guntersville was stained or murky, thanks in part to a line of small tornado producing storms that rumbled through the night before Day 1. However by the time of the first boat launch, the sky was clear and steadily warming from the initial 40 degrees. And Randy Howell had his game face on.
Guntersville is famous for its massive quantity of aquatic “grass,” but anglers said there really wasn’t much grass to be found this time of year. Randy located his bass on riprap rocks near a bridge. He had to retie numerous times because his line was repeatedly damaged and weakened by scraping against rocks.
I visited with Greg Vinson fan, Mike Bertus, on Day 1 as we watched Jonathon VanDam fish near a rocky shoreline. Mike successfully predicted that the winning weight would “not be as much as everyone was saying. Somewhere between 65 and 70 pounds.” Mike also shared that his father, Charlie, caught the record Guntersville bass with a 14.8 pound whopper, about 24 years ago to the day, “mid lake.” Near a rock.
As the water warms, grass and other aquatic vegetation will begin to grow and will become fantastic bass cover. But for early season bass, don’t overlook those rocks.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.