Alexander City, Ala March 20 – Second stop of the Alabama Bass Trail South Division was Lake Martin. Launch and weigh in for the 225 Teams was held at Wind Creek State Park where teams competed for a $10,000 first place cash prize and payouts for the rest of the field though 40th place. The team of Mike Mccullers and Slade Mccullers took the win in a close one with 14.57 pounds.
Mother Nature finally cooperated on tournament day. The ABT seems to be known for having difficult conditions on tournament day. The last few events were no different with the weather changing drastically on tournament day including frozen conditions. However, this event had beautiful Chamber of Commerce weather. Saturday was full of sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. Friday’s final day of practice brought major thunderstorms through the area affecting the fishing for some teams causing their patterns to change and sending them searching for new waters to catch fish.
Mike and Slade both live on Lake Martin and have spent many years learning how to fish the conditions. They relied heavily on experience to narrow down the pattern. Their plan after practice was to “spend the day sight fishing. We located an area in practice holding a few pre-spawn fish including one female around 4-pounds. When we arrived on that spot, we noticed the female was not there but spent some time looking for her. She never showed up, so we caught the buck bass off the bed and continued fishing the area using a Wacky Rigged Senko on 15lb Fluorocarbon line and a Zoom watermelon Speed Craw on a ¼ oz ball jig head and 12lb test line.” They decided to abandon the area and look for similar areas and “ran all over the lake looking for more of the same style pattern.” The other areas did not produce the quality of fish they were looking for. “We know it typically takes mixed bag of largemouth paired with a couple spotted bass over 2-pounds to win here, so that was what we went looking for. The spotted bass we were catching were all under 2-pounds, so we decided to go back to our original area for the rest of the day.” They ended up weighing in a limit of all largemouth. Throughout the day they caught 20 fish, and only 5 of those were spotted bass. Their limit weighed 14.57 giving them a $10,000 payday from this event.
Josh Chapple and Paul Davis took second place with 14.53. They spent Thursday practicing in separate boats. Paul got some better bites in one area of the lake, so they decided to go there on tournament day. Reacting to the close second-place finish and missing first place by only .04, “we have fished here a little bit, and it usually bites us pretty hard. We really want to win one, but it was good to do well here. We ran down the lake and stayed down there all day and felt it was our only shot at winning. We didn’t really catch them until around lunch time (11-3). We fished clean and didn’t lose any fish that would have made a difference. During the day we caught 20-25 fish throwing top water frogs, a pop-r and flipping boat docks using a brown Davis Bait jig. The plan was to keep it really simple, and that was what we did.” This points race is going to be a race till the end of the year. Each event teams have to catch them to stay at the top. With this finish and an 8th place finish at the first event on Logan Martin, Josh and Paul are now in 2nd place in AOY events with three events remaining. They took home $5,000 plus a Wedowee Marine $1,000 bonus.
Rob Lee and Steve Winslett finish third with 14.36 and continue to be one of the most consistent teams in the ABT. In practice they located some sight fish, but the weather change on Friday affected their plan. They only caught one off bed. “We knew the fish were still in the area, so we had to blind cast to them. The wind coming out of the west made sight fishing difficult, but we stayed in the areas we saw them on bed on Wednesday and Thursday. After a front like this and blue bird skies it makes it tough to find bedding fish because they typically pull off the bed and move out a little. The fish we found were in 3-feet or less of water and the water temp was 58°-64°. When we finally found them and started catching them, we stayed in the area the rest of the day. Fish were caught on a Big Bites green pumpkin tube and stick bait. “We really want AOY, but it takes a lot of work. We have two really good second place finishes at the Alabama River, which is a very unpredictable lake and changes so much. We need to put our work in to prepare for Eufaula to close out the season.” They took home 3rd place and $4,000.
The AOY race is starting to take shape for Rob and Steve. With this week’s 3rd place finish and a 1st place win at Logan Martin, they are now at the top of the leader board. They currently have a 6-point lead over second place Josh and Paul, but it’s not over yet. The next event is on the Alabama River at Cooter’s Pond April 9th.