|Thomas Finishes Solid at Guntersville|
When Joe Thomas arrived in Guntersville, Alabama for the Citgo Bass Masters Tour event on Lake Guntersville he was optimistic. "This is one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. How can you not look forward to fishing here. The only thing that concerned me is the 45 degree water temperatures," said Joe before the tournament. Thomas figured the primary patterns would relate to the lakes prolific grass beds.
During the first day of the practice period Thomas concentrated on fishing the deeper grass beds close to the main river channel. He slow rolled a 3/4 once spinnerbait and fished a 1/2 once jig over the grass in five to seven feet of water. "I really thought that the fish would be relating to this deeper grass since the weather was so cold. I did
get a few good bites, including a six pounder, but not enough to make me stay with this pattern." Thomas then moved shallower to areas where the milfoil and the hydrilla came together. "I started throwing a Mad Craw LVR D-10 around areas where the grass changed. There seemed to usually be about a one-foot change in depth in these areas, and that is where I found my fish. When I was fishing deeper I could only get a fish here and there. Once I moved shallower I got three keepers in one spot and two keepers on another spot. I finally felt like maybe I was on something."
Thomas fished the LVR D-10 on seventeen-pound line to keep it running a little shallower. "You really needed the bait to just tick the tops of the grass, and you had to fish kind of slow," said Thomas of his technique.
On the first day of the tournament Thomas went to his primary area and was able to catch a limit by 8:45 AM, even though it had snowed the night before. By 10 AM Thomas had culled twice and felt good about the day. "About noon I went to my secondary area where I had caught two big fish in practice. I was able to cull one more time, and lost a real big fish." When Joe weighed in on day one he had 17-14, enough weight to put him into a tie for 26th place with veteran angler Jim Bitter. "I was real happy about how I did on day one. The only thing that bothered me was loosing that big fish. That one would have really moved me up in the standings," said Thomas. Kevin VanDam lead day one with 26-03.
On day two Thomas caught a two and a half pound fish on his first cast, but did not get another bite until 1 PM. "With the morning being so slow, I just went fishing in the afternoon. I ended up finding another grass bed where I caught three fish in an hour, including a six and a half. I hooked my fifth fish of the day on the same spot. I never got to see it though, it felt like a sizable fish, but it just got off. I guess I'll never know." At weigh in, Joe's four fish tipped the scales at 16-02. This weight put him in 23rd position. "I ended up missing the cut by only 3-12. Only weighing in four today really hurt. If I could have gotten one of the two big fish that I lost I might have made the cut," said Thomas of day two.
"I feel good about my performance. I wish that I wouldn't have lost those two big fish that I had on, but that's the breaks. Overall I think that I maximized what little I found in practice. With my finish here I am up to 43rd in the Angler of the Year race, and I am that much closer to qualifying for the Classic, which is my main goal this year. I'm also really proud of my friend and teammate, Mike Auten, finishing seventh. This was a tough tournament and he (Auten) fished really well.
|Guntersville Not Good to Jordon|
Going into the Citgo Bass Master Tour event on Lake Guntersville in northeastern Alabama Kelly Jordon was very optimistic. The last time B.A.S.S. was here for a tournament in 2002 Jordon won.
Kelly expected to find a pre-spawn lipless crankbait bite. "Any time you are around a good grass lake the best bait is usually a lipless crankbait. During practice I caught quite a few fish on the Lucky Craft LVR D-7 and D-10. I was slow rolling it and ripping looking for reaction bites, but I just couldn't get on a good pattern," said Jordon one of the top ranked pros in the world. "I felt very uneasy after the practice period. It really bothered me that I wasn't on anything solid. I new I was going to have my work cut out for me during the tournament."
During day one of the tournament Jordon managed to catch two keepers. "I missed two other fish and lost a big fish that just seemed to open his mouth and let go. My amateur partner caught a seven-pounder fishing behind me, and that really hurt. I mean I was happy for him, but I really could have used that fish." Jordon's two fish weighed 5-03 and put him in 131st place.
Day two was a little better for Jordon. He caught four fish on the LVR's, three keepers and one short fish. Kelly's stringer weighed 11-12 and moved him up to 101st in the overall standings.
"I'm very disappointed. This is the
worst finish that I've had in a long time. I had hoped that the fishing
would be wide open and that I could establish a good pattern. Normally,
this is not a spot fishing lake; it is a pattern fishing lake. This week
it came down to who had the best spot and camped on it all week. It was
just another cold wintertime tournament. With the B.A.S.S. schedule being
what it is, you can expect a lot of these," said Jordon. "I
really fished my butt off, I just didn't get onto a good area that I felt
confident in. This week was a tough week for me."
|Jordon Ranked Number One in the World|
Lucky Craft Pro Team Member Kelly Jordon just took over the #1 spot in The State Farm-Bass Fan.com World Rankings. He is the first angler, since the World Rankings inception four years ago, to unseat bass fishing superstar Kevin Van Dam from the top spot. "This is such an unbelievable feeling. It's great to be ranked at the top of your profession," said Jordon of becoming number one.
The State Farm-Bass Fan.com World Rankings are the only statistical, multi-year, comprehensive rankings of the world's best professional bass anglers. The Professional Anglers Association (PAA) also endorsed the World Ranking system in December of 2001.
The rankings were created to answer a simple question; who is the best professional bass angler in the world? The rankings give bass fishing fans a way to track their favorite pros. Bass Fan.com was the first to produce a statistical, multi-year ranking system for professional bass fishing using the results from both top tours: the Bass Master Tour and the FLW Tour.
"Being ranked number one in the State Farm-Bass Fan.com World Rankings is the hardest thing to do in professional bass fishing," said Jay Kumar, CEO of Bass Fan.com.
"I have been extremely blessed in my tournament finishes. I just go out and fish as hard as I can at every tournament," said Jordon. "This is such a neat deal. Everyone wants to be number one. I really didn't know if I could beat Kevin for the top spot. I think that my mom is more excited than anybody at this point. I guess it hasn't really sunken in for me yet."
"Kevin is a great fisherman and me taking
over the top spot will probably just make him fish harder. I hope that
I can keep doing well and hold onto this for a long time, but it is going
to be tough," Kelly said.
|Guntersville Tough for Reese|
Skeet Reese had high expectations going into the Citgo Bass Masters event at Lake Guntersville in northeastern Alabama. "Any time you go to a lake with a reputation for lots of big fish like Guntersville it's hard not to be excited," said Reese. "I was really expecting a good grass bite. Guntersville is famous for its grass fishing. I was confident I would get a top 25 finish here."
During the first day of the practice period Reese fished a spinnerbait all day without a bite. "I really thought that I could get the fish to eat a blade, but with the cold water it just wasn't happening," Skeet said. During the last two practice days Reese switched to a Lucky Craft LV-100 and a LV-500 Max, both in Aurora Red. "I caught a few fish in practice on the LV's, but I never really felt like I was on a consistent pattern. I tried to get something going on a Pointer 100 as well but just couldn't get the bites I knew I would need," said Reese of practice.
one of the tournament Reese hooked seven fish, but only got four to the
boat. "I lost a couple of big fish for no apparent reason. They just
came unhooked." Skeet's day one stringer weighed in at 17-07 and put
him in 31st place behind day one leader Kevin VanDam who had 26-03.
"It really hurt not having five to weigh in. I know that I never had a fish hooked that would have put me in the lead, but one more three pounder would have really put me in a better position," Skeet said of his day one performance.
On day two things got even worse. "At ten o'clock I didn't have a fish in the boat and my amateur partner had two fish for about 12 pounds, including one that was almost ten pounds. That really hurt. Especially since I gave him the Red LV-500 that he caught it on." At the end of the day Reese would boat two keepers that weighed in at 7-09. "I lost two other fish that probably would have kept. I guess it was just one of those days. I missed several opportunities, and when you fish this circuit you can't do that." Skeet's two-day total of 25 pounds left him in 58th place.
"I'm not happy about my performance here. I simply couldn't get on a good pattern. I fished really hard, and I love to fish grass, but I guess it just wasn't in the cards for me to do well here. I don't think that the weather was a factor for me. I just wasn't on a good pattern. I can't dwell on it, Fifty-eighth isn't where I wanted to be but it's still better than last. We have several more tournaments left. I'll just have to do better in those."
|Guntersville Not What Swindle Expected|
"I was excited to go to Guntersville. It's one of the best lake in the country, and I consider it one of my home lakes," said Gerald Swindle. "I expected the fishing at Guntersville to be wide open. This lake is full of big fish."
After three days of practice for the Citgo Bass Masters Tour Event on Lake Guntersville in North East Alabama, Gerald had changed his expectations. "Practice was tough for me, I just couldn't get the bites I needed." Swindle fished both a Pointer 100 and a LVR D-7 lipless crankbait in practice. Most of the fish Swindle caught were on the LVR D-7. "Practice was slow. I was only catching two to four fish per day." When the practice period ended, Swindle knew he was going to have to work hard to get five bites a day during the tournament.
Day one of the tournament saw Swindle weigh in five bass that weighed 17-08. "I was only able to land five of the ten bites I had today, and they were all in the same spot. I wish I could have landed some of the fish that I lost. A couple of them were real big and would have helped my final weight. I simply didn't execute well on day one." Swindle's weight put him in 29th, behind day one leader Kevin VanDam who weighed in 26-03.
Day two brought with it colder temperatures and slower fishing. Swindle went back to his good area from day one and never got a bite. "About noon I decided to just go fishing. I tied on a Mad Craw colored Lucky Craft Fat CB BDS 3 crankbait and started moving around." Gerald ended up with three keeper bass that weighed in at 11-12 and put him in 36th place overall behind day two leader Mike Iaconelli.
"All the fish I caught in the tournament were relating to grass beds in two to four feet of water. The fish ended up being a lot shallower than I expected them to be. If the water had been four or five degrees warmer it would have been a record-breaking tournament. I just never got dialed in good this week. I didn't fish well. On this tour you have to fish effectively all the time. What really makes me mad though was that I didn't get on to the jerkbait bite. Overall I feel good about doing as well as I did considering I wasn't on a real solid pattern.
Takahiro Finishes in Middle of Pack at Guntersville
When Takahiro Omori arrived at the Citgo Bass Master Tour Event at Lake Guntersville in north eastern Alabama, he was expecting a big fish shoot out. "Guntersville has the reputation for being a big fish lake, I was really expecting a lot of anglers to be catching twenty plus pounds per day," said Omori. With the conditions still winter like, fishing was a bit slower. Some of the events competitors did manage to catch twenty plus pounds each day, but overall it was a very tough tournament.
During practice Takahiro caught a couple of good fish each day on a Lucky Craft LV-500 Max in Mad Craw, including one five-pound fish. "I fished hard, I just never found an area that I had a lot of confidence in." All of the fish Takahiro found were relating to grass beds in three to five feet of water. "I knew after practice that the tournament was going to be tough," said Omori.
During the first day of the tournament Omori stayed with the same technique he used in practice. At weigh in Takahiro had three fish that weighed 8-12 and put him in 104th place behind day one leader, Kevin VanDam.
On day two of the tournament Takahiro caught
four keepers on the LV-500 Max. His four fish weighed 13-12. This weight
moved him up to 74th in the overall standings.
"I am not happy with my finish on Guntersville. I was in an area that produced a lot of fish for other anglers. I just fished too fast. I also think that I didn't adjust to the changing weather well," said Omori. "I am looking forward to going to Table Rock. It's a lake that fits the way I fish."
|Auten Seventh at Guntersville|
Mike Auten was excited going into the Citgo Bass Masters Tour Event at Lake Guntersville in Alabama. "Guntersville is really a fun place to fish. I think it's one of the best lakes in the country and it's just full of big bass," said Auten. " I set a goal for myself of 20 pounds a day. I knew that because of the quality of the fish here it would take at least that much per day to make the cut." Auten didn't think that the cold weather would make that much difference to the fish. "When you go to a lake like Guntersville that has so many good fish in it, you know that someone is going to figure out how to make the big ones bite."
Practice was pretty slow for Auten, who concentrated
on fishing the grass.
one of the tournament brought morning snow flurries and colder temperatures.
With the changing weather Auten knew that he would have to fish slow and
methodical. "I went to my main area first and was able to catch a limit
there by 10:30, but it wasn't easy. The area held one key spot. I would
catch one fish and then have to fish around the area for 20-30 minutes in
order to rest the key spot. Then I could catch another fish. I kept doing
this up until I got a limit, then I moved up the lake to try and get a big
bite." Auten did get his big bite, a six-pound fish late in the day
to anchor his 20-03 limit. This weight put him in thirteenth place at the
end of day one behind leader and friend, Kevin VanDam who had 26-03.
"I was really pumped after day one, but also a little worried. I didn't know if I was on enough fish to continue at this pace up," said Auten.
On day two of the tournament Auten went back to his main spot again. The fishing was a bit tougher though as he was only able to catch three keepers. He decided to run up the lake to try his other spots and caught one more fish. Late in the day he ran back down the lake to a secondary point where he had caught a good fish in practice and managed to land a seven pound fish just before he was due back in. "I only got five bites today but I caught them all," said Auten of day two. Auten's five fish string weighed in at 21-11 and gave him a two-day total of 41-14 which moved him into seventh and allowed him to make the cut and fish day three. Day two's leader was Mike Iaconelli who had a two day total of 48-09. "I was pleased with my position, but concerned about whether I was on enough fish to go any farther. The fishing was a lot tougher, and I wasn't sure what to expect on day three. I was just happy to make the cut." All of Auten's fish on day two were caught on a Lucky Craft LV-500 Max in Mad Craw color.
The start of day three was delayed two and a half hours due to heavy fog in the morning. When the fog broke, it gave way to clear sunny skies and no wind. "I was really concentrating on the lipless crankbait, and calm sunny conditions are the worst thing you can have happen for this technique. I went to my key stretch and never got a bite. I caught a five pounder on a secondary point and then never got another bite all day," said Auten. "The weather conditions killed it for me. I just didn't have enough places to go to." Auten's one fish ended up weighing 5-11, which kept him in seventh place at the end of day three, 3-13 out of the cut to six. Day three's leader and eventual tournament winner George Cochran had a limit that weighed 23-10 for a three-day total of 69-11, to Auten's three-day total of 47-09. Cochran went on to win by over nine pounds with a four-day total of 99 pounds 11 ounces.
"I am very happy with my performance overall. I wish that I'd had a better practice, but I really feel that I made something out of nothing," said Auten. "Of course I wanted to win, but I really knew I wasn't on enough fish. Seventh is a great finish, the best I've had in a while, plus it gives me good points towards the Classic and the Elite 50's.