The story of the first day of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic was the weather. That’s pretty typical in bass fishing tournaments, but in this tournament, it wasn’t the current weather but rather yesterday’s weather that changed today’s fortune for many anglers.
Yesterday the wind blew and a bad round of storms tore through the Guntersville area late last night. There has been some muddy water on the river but the mud moved all over the lake today and anglers found themselves scrambling. That scrambling paid off for some anglers while it hurt others.
It sounds like the swimbait fishermen struggled a little bit today but a jig seemed to be playing for others. Most of the field expected the catch weights to go up on Saturday. Here is what we found out about the bass fishing on Guntersville today.
1st Randall Tharp, 5 bass for 27 pounds, 8 ounces
The day started slow when Tharp lost a really big fish right off the bat and it got him down for a while. About mid morning he ran into a school of fish and caught an 8 1/2 pounder and a 5 pounder. He hit 2 dozen spots today but he’s not worried about wearing out his water because he’s got 50 spots that he would definitely fish in this tournament if any of his spots don’t continue to pan out. He culled 6 or 7 times throughout the day.
The mud hurt everyone to an extent because this lake doesn’t fish to its potential when there is this much mud and current on the lake. Tomorrow should be perfect conditions for what he wants to do the rest of the tournament and expects Sunday to even get better. The big fish choked his bait today and he feels like that is a sign that what he’s doing is going to get better.
2nd Edwin Evers, 5 bass for 26 pounds, 13 ounces
Evers was really unsure of where he was going to start the tournament last night. First thing this morning he caught a big bass and that settled him and down and helped him develop the basis for his pattern. All during practice and today he’s trying to find fish that are moving to their spawning areas. It’s actually becoming a pattern that Evers hopes to expand on the next two days.
3rd David Walker, 5 bass for 24 pounds, 13 ounces
Walker was calm today about his big day and taking it all in stride. Walker has enough history on this lake that he has learned what not to fish and that helped him today stay in productive water. He’s using a few presentations but one of his techniques is making itself more prominent and he feels like he’s dialing in what the bass want to eat in this tournament.
4th Casey Ashley, 5 bass for 23 pounds, 2 ounces
He found a huge 12-acre flat with ditches, rises, grass clumps and everything. He’s catching the fish in his grass clumps. You can’t see the clumps in the water, but when he finds one he caught several bass. The bass wanted his baits moving fast today. He only got to make three passes on his area today because it was so big and he has to fish it so methodically.
He didn’t get here until Saturday because of the snow storm that hit back home. The water temperature was 39 degrees and found the flat. He caught a big one and three other fish and left it. When he checked it on Wednesday he caught a 7-pounder and a 5-pounder. Because of that, he was disappointed with his weight today. He got really nervous when he didn’t catch his fish until after noon today. He’s going to stay in his area the whole tournament and feels like he’s on the fish to win.
4th Fred Roumbanis, 5 bass for 23 pounds 2 ounce (big bass 9 pounds, 3 ounces)
He caught all of his bass between 10:30 and 1 pm today and only caught 5 bass. He had one big one bite a swimbait and break his line. Today his first fish came at 10:30 a.m. and it was the 9-3. He was just about to get spun out because he had hit a bunch of areas without a single bite. After that big fish hit, he settled down.
The mud actually helped him today because he was used to dealing with influx of mud on Shasta back home. When he caught the 9 pounder, he scooped the fish in the boat just as his line broke. She flopped on the deck trying to get out of the boat and he tackled the fish to weigh the biggest bass on day one.
6th Coby Carden, 5 bass for 22 pounds, 4 ounces
He was worried initially that his areas would be muddy. He went to his first couple of areas and watched the mud flow through them. So he “just went fishing” and was proud of his results. He figured out something late in the day, when he caught a bass weighing almost 8 pounds. It was definitely a bait adjustment that he didn’t expand upon, but he hopes to build on that Saturday.
8th Dean Rojas, 5 bass for 20 pounds, 14 ounces
Rojas fished a small area today and had a limit in the first hour of fishing and then was able to upgrade steadily throughout the day fishing midrange to shallow most of the day.
9th Tommy Biffle, 5 bass for 20 pounds, 13 ounces
The muddy water didn’t seem to affect Biffle on day one. He caught fish all day. He caught 3 good fish early and another 5 pounder in the last 10 minutes of the day. Sounds like he’s grinding it out with a few specific techniques.
12th Randy Howell, 5 bass for 20 pounds, 3 ounces
The storm forced Howell to junk fish on day one of the Classic and bounce around from spot to spot a lot more. He threw shallow stuff like square bills and jerkbaits to catch his 20-pound limit. He was surprised that junk fishing put him in a good position. Usually it doesn’t work on this lake because of the weights you need to do well. He went to one of his big fish spots late and the day and caught a kicker bass.
16th John Crews, 4 bass for 18 pounds, 10 ounces
His first cast of the day he caught a 7-11 bass in 12-18 foot of water on the Missile Baits Shockwave. Then a couple casts later he caught his second biggest bass of the day and he thought he was going to have a monster day. But the bite died just as quick. He went to some of his backup areas to crank some 3 and 4 pound bass but that bite was non existent. He tried cranking rip rap because that bite picked up Wednesday, but all he caught today was short fish. He’s fishing out on drops for his bigger bites. He lost another big fish later in the day.
He feels like tomorrow could be a big day if he can narrow down some bait modifications. He thinks the mud in his areas is just on the surface. So he’s not worried about the mud in the lake as much as getting the fish that bite to stay on the hook. He said he figured out a color adjustment today that should help him tomorrow. Several fish just slapped at his bait today and didn’t get hooked.
31st Patrick Bone, 5 bass for 15 pounds, 7 ounces
Bone was confused most of the day. In practice he wasn’t getting a lot of bites but he was catching big ones. Today he was perplexed by how many small non-keeper bass he caught in the tournament that he didn’t catch at all in practice. He made an adjustment at lunch time and that’s when he caught his better fish. Tomorrow, since winning is out of the question, he’s going to stay in his areas and treat them like farm ponds and figure how to catch them better to make the cut for day three.
31st Alton Jones, 5 bass for 15 pounds, 7 ounces
Jones area got really muddy today when last night’s storms washed them out. He made a long trip to one of his areas and when he got there it was rolling red mud. He expects the story of the day to be muddy water helping guys and hurting guys today but he expects the muddy water to clear before Sunday.
19th Yusuke Miyazaki, 5 bass for 17 pounds, 5 ounces
Miyazaki threw a crankbait he was sure none of the other competitors had. And he had no problem catching a limit. But he found the big bite hard. He said he was unable to locate the larger female bass moving up yet. He thinks he can catch a quick limit on his crankbait hasn’t figured out the big bite yet.
36th Chris Lane, 5 bass for 15 pounds, 1 ounce
When he got to some of his areas this morning he could see the mud line coming out of the creeks so it forced him to go search for clear water. Tomorrow can be a day where intimate knowledge of this lake can play a major role. On his way back down from Guntersville this afternoon he saw lots of feeder creeks gushing mud. He feels tomorrow will change a lot for anglers and the lake could be a lot muddier all over. Everybody knows where the clear water is going to be tomorrow. But where the fish get in that clear water is very specific and where he will definitely have an advantage as a local.
He fished too fast today and tomorrow he will slow down in the right areas.
40th Jordan Lee, 4 bass for 13 pounds, 7 ounces
Lee only had two rods on his deck when he left the ramp this morning and they both had jigs tied on them. He thought he could get five big bites on a Booyah jig today, however he only landed two good fish on the jig today. He lost a few fish and missed several fish. He plans to throw the jig again tomorrow. And if he gets five of those big bites, he feels like he can get back into the mix.
He felt the front affected the fish more than the muddy water. He had the bites but he would lose fish because they would bite the trailer and not the jig. The front made the fish bite funny today. He’s fishing out in 6-7 feet on rock and he knows he’s around good fish.
If it doesn’t go well in his areas early, he’s going to run up the river and fish some of his old spots. The lake is fishing so different this year, he doesn’t feel like the local advantage is playing in this tournament. He didn’t have a great practice but he found three key places where he thought he could catch a few big fish off.
55th Gerald Swindle, 1 bass for 2 pounds, 1 ounce
Swindle is mad. Mad at the bass. Mad at this tournament. Mad at himself. But mostly mad at the bass. He had three main areas he was depending on and when he got there this morning they were completely blown out. So he had to scrap his entire practice and go junk fishing which he normally considers his strength.
“I ran 38 gallons of gas through that Mercury up and down this lake and I snagged one stupid bass. Be careful with that one. He’s pretty dumb like me. I’m going to get after it tomorrow and if I only catch one bass tomorrow, I’ll probably just eat it. I’m mad at those bass.”