November 10-11 Mar-Mac Real Estate Championship at Smith Lake. The 2012 Top Rod Solo Trail season wrapped up on beautiful Smith Lake this weekend. Cool mornings turned into warm breezy afternoons, with temperatures reaching the mid-70s both days. There were several nice healthy spotted bass weighed in both days, with several over four pounds on both days. Schooling fish were the talk of the tournament, both the ones that were caught and also the ones that weren’t caught. Many anglers reported seeing big spotted bass feeding heavily on shad and blueback herring on top. Some fishermen were able to get them to bite their artificial lures, but many were left frustrated at what they had seen and been unable to connect with. Smith Lake bass are notorious for being finicky, especially when they are eating small shad, but when an angler has the right bait, it can be fun and profitable, as it was for Lee Black on Danville, AL. Black solved the puzzle both days and added the Top Rod Championship trophy to his Angler of the Year runner up season with 28.22lbs of spotted bass over the two days.
The Top Rod Solo trail would like to thank all of the fishermen that fished this year with us as well as out sponsors. The Shelton’s Outdoors’ Angler of the Year payback totaled $3060, of which $1530 went to Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL for his first place finish. Lee Black took home $918 for his runner up finish and Jacob Gibbs of Holly Pond, AL received $612 for third place. In addition, the championship payback was $3660. We look forward to the 2013 season and hope to see everyone again next year.
First place paid $1647 to Lee Black of Danville, AL, who weighed in 15.16lbs on day one and followed that up with 12.72lbs in day two. Black caught his fish on a variety of baits, catching schoolers on a Zara Spook and a fluke when they were feeding on top. He also used a crankbait and a shaky head with a watermelon seed finesse worm in 10-20 feet of water to catch fish when they were not schooling.
Finishing in second place was Jesse Wiggins of Addison, AL with a total of 25.22lbs of bass. Wiggins, who took home $915, had the biggest bag of the second day with 13.72lbs to go with 11.50lbs on day one. Wiggins caught his fish on a pearl swimbait on day one and changed up on day two. He caught his best fish on day two on an Alabama Rig withpearl colored Zoom Swimming Flukes.
In third place was Rex Chambers of Cullman, AL with 24.88lbs., which was good for $549. Chambers was consistent both days, with 12.16lbs on day one and 12.72lbs on day two. He had a five pound spot on day one and two four pounders on day two. He used a Zara Spook and a Bull Shad Swimbait on both days to catch his fish. Chambers said that he caught a few schooling fish and also fished over deep brushpiles when they were not breaking the surface.
Finishing in fourth place was Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL with a total of 21.86lbs. Crow had just four fish on day one for 9.76lbs and added 12.10lbs on day two to take home $366. Crow couldn’t get some big schoolers to connect on day one, but was able to make them bite a swimbait on day two. He caught his fish on day one with a Lucky Craft Gunfish and a pearl Zoom Fluke, but had better success on day two with a Bull Shad swimbait.
Taking the last check was Jordan Wiggins of Addison, AL with a total of 19.92lbs. Wiggins received $183 and caught 8.14lbs on day one and 11.78lbs on day two. He also reported that he saw plenty of big fish on day one and couldnt make them bite his offerings. He had better luck on day two with a swimbait.
6th place: John Oliver, Florence, AL 16.80
7th place: Larry Pierce, Florence, AL 16.62
8th place: Donny Miller, Florence, AL 13.28
9th place: Brad Voegele, Addison, AL 11.94
10th place: Shawn Striker, Cullman, AL 7.96
October 13. Frogg Toggs/ T-H Marine Open at Wilson Lake. Fishermen usually love to go to Wilson Lake in the fall, mostly to fish the current below Wheeler Dam for big smallmouths. The combination of moving water and plentiful shad have the smallies and largemouths in a feeding frenzy on most autumn days, and the fifteen anglers that showed up for the Top Rod Solo Trail event were anxiously awaiting the good tailrace fishing on Saturday. However, TVA, which controls the current flow from the dam threw the anglers a curveball on this day, as the Wheeler Dam turbines were still during the tournament hours. The weather was perfect, reaching 80 degrees with a steady breeze to compliment the plentiful sunshine. Water temps held around 70 degrees, unusually warm for this time of year.
There was plenty at stake in the last regular season event, with three anglers in the race for the overall Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year race and six fishermen in the race for one of the three paying positions in the AOY standings. In the end, it was North Alabama Guide Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL coming out on top in the tournament and the Angler of the Year race. Crow wrapped up a solid season with a win, a second place, two third place and fourth place finishes for his top finish at each lake on the circuit.
Crow, who was coming off a sixth place finish in the Bassmaster Southern Open at Smith Lake the previous week, caught 15.04lbs of largemouth bass with a big fish of 4.64lbs to take home a total of $555. He was probably one of the few anglers that didnt mind TVA not running any water during the tournament. “I had been on Wheeler Lake guiding for the previous five days, and we had been catching them really good in shallow water”, said Crow. “So, even though I have not fished Wilson in a few weeks, I felt like I should be able to do some of the same things that I had been doing on Wheeler and that happened to be the case.” Crow caught his big fish and one more weigh in fish early on a Lucky Craft Gunfish topwater bait, throwing it over shallow rocky points. Late in the day, he upgraded his limit by catching three solid fish over 2.5lbs with an Excalibur XR50 lipless crankbait on a flat in three feet of water.
Finishing in second place was Lee Black of Danville, AL with 11.12lbs of largemouths. Black was also coming off a 20th place finish in the Bassmaster Open at Smith Lake the previous week. He stayed near the dam area, even though there was no current flowing. Black used a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm in green pumpkin on a 1/4 oz Texas rig to catch his fish. Black also wrapped up a solid season with a second place finish in the Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year standings and had the big fish of the year with a 7.63lb bass he caught at Guntersville in July. He took home $240 for his finish at Wilson.
In third place was Rex Chambers of Baileyton, AL with 10.78lbs of largemouths. Chambers used a mixture of baits to catch his fish, which were mostly caught schooling around shad. He caught his biggest fish on a topwater bait, and also caught fish on a spinnerbait and an Alabama rig. Chambers took the final check of $80 for his third place finish.
There were 19 anglers that qualified for the MarMac Real Estate two-day championship, which will be held in November at Smith Lake. The schedule for the 2013 season will also be announced shortly and posted on the Top Rod website at www.toprodtrail.wordpress.com.
4. Sam Johns 8.74
5. Chris Dunlap 8.04
6. Allen Peters 2.24
7. Jacob Gibbs 1.24
September 1. Berry, Berry, Little & Brunner Open, Smith Lake. Football season kicked off on Saturday, but it was also spotted bass season for 21 anglers in the Top Rod Solo Trail event on Smith Lake. It may have been the strangest weather day of the season, as a 75 degree humid blast off gave way to periods of sunshine, clouds, wind, and finally rain. With 84 degree water temps, the fish on Smith Lake are still mostly in the summertime homes, but there were a few caught shallow as well as deep. There were some largemouths weighed in, but mostly fat healthy spotted bass were brought to the scales, and one that stopped breathing determined the winner of the tournament. There is also a new Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year leader, and with one tournament left in the season it could change again.
Taking first place and a $506 paycheck was Andy Chappell of Gardendale, AL with 11.82lbs of Smith Lake bass. Chappell owns A&A Tackle in Gardendale, and he reported catching his fish on several different baits on the day. He had a mixed bag of largemouths and spots, mostly caught shallow. He used a spinnerbait, buzzbait, jig and a topwater bait to catch his fish. Chappell had finished second in the first Smith Lake event of the season.
In second place was North Alabama Guide Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL with 11.68lbs. Crow also had the big fish of the tournament with a 3.80lb spotted bass and took home $289 for his catch. He weighed in just four fish after one of his five keepers died between 1:55pm and when he weighed it shortly after 2pm. Crow said that he had just checked his livewell to possibly cull a fish right before he came in. His smallest fish, a 2.5lber was swimming then and would have given him the win with 14lbs, but he was not able to weigh it in after it perished. He said he caught 13 fish over the slot on the day, and he threw back a limit of 2.5lbers that would have been enough to win. He caught his fish on a variety of baits as well, mostly in 15-35 feet of water. A Strike King 6XD crankbait caught his big fish and he also caught them on a shaky head, football jig, fluke and a smaller crankbait. Crow also took over the Angler of the Year lead.
In third place was Payton McGinnis of Jasper, AL with 11.50lbs in his first Top Rod Solo Trail event. He had a mixed bag of largemouths and spotted bass and also used several different lures to fool them. A shaky head, drop shot and a crankbait were all part of his arsenal on the day. McGinnis took home $138 for his finish.
Fourth place finisher Jamie Butler of Jasper, AL weighed in a total of 9.92lbs of spotted bass to take home the final check of $92. Butler weighed in all spotted bass that he caught in deep water on a drop shot, shaky head and a spoon. He reported catching his fish from 20-30 feet of water.
Finishing just out of the money was John Welborn of Cullman, AL with 9.86lbs. Welborn had a mixed bag of largemouths and spots that he caught on several different baits. He also reported losing a monster largemouth on a shaky head that would have given him the winning bag. His fish were caught on a shaky head, buzzbait and a small crankbait, mostly in water less than 10 feet deep.
6th Lee Black 6.98
7th. Nick Reeves 5.90
8th. Rex Chambers 5.56
9th. Byron Terry 5.08
10th. Sam Johns 3.88
August 11. Patrick Johnson State Farm Open, Pickwick. The Top Rod Solo Trail made its 8th stop of the year on Saturday at McFarland Park, and fifteen anglers took on what may be the best lake in Alabama right now. Everyone was hoping for plenty of current flowing through Wilson Dam, but TVA had been moving water mostly in the afternoons, and that was the case again today. Ironically, most of the anglers reported catching their fish early, before the water started moving. With two tournaments remaining, we have a new points leader, and the top of the standings in the Shelton’s Outdoors AOY race has gotten tight, with six anglers just one tournament win away from taking over. The last two events of the year will be crucial for the eventual Angler of the Year.
Taking the win was a first time participant in the Top Rod Trail. Kyle Glascow, who owns K&S Outdoors in Guin, AL, made his debut a winning one with a nice sack of largemouths weighing 17.62lbs. Glascow caught 25 keepers on the day and his best five were all solid 3-4lb fish. He reported catching them on a 3/4oz football jig and a red shad Zoom Ol Monster worm in 12-15 feet of water around shellbeds.
In second place was the new points leader, Allen Johnson of Trinity, AL. Johnson weighed in all smallmouths for his 13.64lb bag. He caught them in 1-2 feet of water on a topwater and a swimbait. His fish were caught in the first hour and a half of daylight and were schooling on shad.
In third place was Donny Miller of Florence, AL with another nice bag of smallmouths. Miller had 12.74lbs and he also caught them early while they were schooling in 2-3 feet of water. Miller also used a topwater bait and a swimbait to catch his fish.
Brent Crow, who owns North Alabama Guide Service and Sam Johns of Cullman, AL finished in a tie for 4th place with 9.88lbs. Crow also had the big fish of the tournament with a 4.40lb largemouth that he caught on his first cast of the day. He only wound up with four keepers, however, all caught in 18-22 feet on a football jig with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer. Johns caught his fish, which were all largemouth on a 3/4oz football jig and a Zoom Mag 2 worm in 15-20 feet of water.
6th place: Nick Reeves, Moulton AL 9.10
7th place: Lee Black, Danville, AL 7.90
8th place: Brad Voegele, Addison, AL 3.40
July 7. Dobyns Rods Open, Guntersville. With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees for the past two weeks, the fishing has been sporadic at best and downright tough most of the time on Guntersville Lake according to the anglers that have weathered the heat. However, even with the mercury topping the century mark again today, there were several solid bags of fish caught and Guntersville once again kicked out one of those once in a lifetime stringers. Every one of the thousands of bass fishermen that slide their boat off of the trailer before daybreak at a Guntersville boat launch hopes to do what Jonathan Henry did today: Catch a thirty pound stringer of bass. The recent dock talk and fishing reports as well as the heat made it an even more impressive haul, and as Guntersville often does when it is supposed to be miserable, it reminds everyone that this IS Guntersville, and its always capable of one of those remarkable days. On this day, it not only set the Top Rod Solo Trail record for heaviest stringer, but also the record big fish with a 7.63lber.
Henry, who runs a guide service on the lake named Basswhacker Guide Service out of Grant, Al, whacked them to the tune of 30.56lbs of largemouths to take the top prize of $516. Henry caught over 20 keepers early on a One Knocker Zara Spook, including two over six pounds. He later caught three more monsters flipping a 3/4oz Killer Bass Baits jig in Guntersville Craw color with a Green Pumpkin Super Chunk trailer. His jig fish came in 8-12 feet of scattered hydrilla.
Finishing in 2nd place was Lee Black of Danville, AL with 17.56lbs. Black also took the big fish honors with his 7.63 brute and moved into 2nd place in the Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year standings. Black caught his fish out of 25 feet of water with a one ounce brown and green football jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw trailer and a Zoom Ol Monster Watermelon Candy Texas rigged worm. He took home $348 for his 2nd place finish and big fish check.
Allen Johnson of Trinity, AL took the final check of $86 with 16.81lbs of bass. He was struggling in the morning until he happened to ride by another competitor that was generous enough to invite him to fish where he happened to be catching fish after fish on a swimbait. Johnson rigged up a Berkley Hollow Belly on a 3/4 ounce jighead and caught his fish out of 15-18 feet of open water.
Brent Crow, who runs North Alabama Guide Service, finished in 4th place with 16.38lbs and was the generous angler that helped out his friend. Crow had caught several fish early on a Big Bite 11 inch worm and a swimbait before finding a big school of fish. He had caught 10 in 10 casts before Johnson stopped, and they caught 15 more between them off of the same school. Crow threw a 5 inch Strike King Shadalicious Swimbait on a 3/4 ounce head and used a Dobyns Rods 765C with 20lb P-Line Flourocarbon to catch the majority of his fish.
In fifth place was Jesse Wiggins of Addison, AL with 14.18lbs of largemouths. Wiggins caught all of his fish out of 12 feet of water with mussel shells and scattered grass. He caught them on a Green Pumpkin Zoom Ol Monster Worm and a 3/4ounce football jig with a zoom super chunk trailer.
6th place: Charlie Hodle, Hartselle, AL 12.88lbs
7th place: Tyler Weeks, Russellville, AL 11.18lbs
8th place: Nick Reeves, Moulton, AL 8.63lbs
9th place: Rex Chambers, Baileyton, AL 4.64lbs
June 16. Piedmont Insurance Open, Wheeler. The second half of the Top Rod Trail season kicked off where the first half ended, at Ingall’s Harbor on Wheeler Lake, and the lake was a little stingier this time around. There were 26 anglers in the field on Saturday, and winner almost didnt make it in time for the 5AM blast off. An early morning East wind made for rough conditions early, but it had calmed down and the sun was out for the 1PM weigh in.
Sam Johns of Cullman, AL pulled into the parking lot just as the other 25 anglers were taking off, and quickly dialed a tournament official to register just in the nick of time. His late start didnt prove to be a handicap, however, as he wound up with the winning bag of 14.40lbs and the big fish of the day as well, a 4.83lb largemouth. Johns won $561 for first place and $130 for big fish, all caught on a 3/8oz black and blue jig. He used a black and blue Strike King Rage Chunk for a trailer on his jig. Johns said he had a rough practice, so he relied on a shellbed that he had discovered 25 years ago that he hadn’t visited this week. It was the right call, as he caught over 30 keepers off of it throughout the day.
In second place was Nick Reeves of Moulton, AL with 13.03lbs of largemouth. Reeves ran 10 miles to his first spot, only to see it turned to mud by the wind. He never made a cast on that spot, turned back around and hit various places throughout the day with a variety of baits to catch his fish. He caught fish on a jig, Carolina rig, and a shaky head worm from 8-20 feet of water. He said he caught about 10 keepers on the day and took home $204 for his second place finish.
Local guide Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL finished in 3rd place with 12.62lbs of largemouth. Crow caught three fish early, then hit about a dozen spots before finally finding a group of fish about 11:30 that comprised all of his weigh in fish. He caught five more that culled his first three, all on a homemade 1 ounce football jig in brown and green. He used a green pumpkin Strike King Lobster for a trailer on his jig. His first spot was a hump that topped out in 18 feet of water and the other fish came on a small drop off from 18-22 feet. Crow won $153 for 3rd place.
In fourth place was Lee Black of Danville, AL with 12.31lbs of bass. Black caught his fish in 9-12 feet of water on two different baits. He threw a deep diving Bomber crankbait and a 1/4oz shaky head worm with a green pumpkin finesse worm to catch about 10 keepers on the day. Black took the last check of $102 for his catch.
Coming in one place out of the money was Jacob Gibbs of Holly Pond, AL. Gibbs also widened his lead in the Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year standings with his fifth place finish. He caught all of his fish on a 3/8oz Aaron Martens Scrounger head with a Zoom Albino Fluke as a trailer. Gibbs reported catching over 30 fish on the day, mostly when he saw them come up schooling over 12 feet of water.
6th place: Paul Garrison,Natural Bridge, AL 11.55
7th place: Johnathon Poole, Trinity, AL 11.16
8th place: Clay Terry, Trinity, AL 10.21
9th place: Jordan Wiggins, Addison, AL 8.25
10th place: Larry Pierce, Athens, AL 7.46
May 13. Streamline Cutting Open, Wheeler. After three straight Top Rod Events in pristine weather conditions, the final Sunday tournament was anything but a nice day to be outdoors. Eighteen anglers were forced to deal with intermittent rain and a steady wind with no hint of sunshine on Wheeler Lake. Perhaps it was Mother Nature’s way of getting even with the fishermen that ventured out on Mother’s Day? Nevertheless, there were plenty of fish caught and some solid bags were weighed in.
Bringing in the top limit of the day was fishstrong.com pro Rick Williams of Decatur, AL. Williams had 18.31lbs and also had the big fish of the tournament with a 6.34lb largemouth. He took home $516 for first place, $90 for big fish and won $100 in the side pot for a total payday of $706. Williams caught his fish on a deep diving Strike King 6XD Chartruese/Blue crankbait. He said the key was getting it super deep, and to do so he threw it on a Duckett Rods’ 7’11 Crankbait Rod with Seaguar Invisx 8lb line. His bites came in 25-35 feet of water around Decatur.
In second place with a solid bag of largemouths that weighed 17.39lbs was Justin Poole of Trinity, AL. He took home $258 for his second place finish. Poole caught his fish on a black and blue 1/2oz Omega structure jig and a green pumpkin 5/8oz Omega Football Jig. He used Yum Craw Papi trailers on both jigs and threw them on 17lb flourocarbon line. Poole said he caught 40 fish on the day, most of which were in 8 to 13 feet of water.
Taking third place and the final check of $86 was Shawn Striker of Cullman, AL. Striker weighed in 16.04lbs of largemouth that he caught on a shaky head. He found his fish late in the day on a point in 5-10 feet of water. He used a 1/4oz shaky head with a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm and threw it on 8lb fourocarbon line.
In fourth place was Allen Johnson of Trinity, AL with 14.01lbs. Johnson caught his fish early in the day on a crankbait and a carolina rig worm. He said he had all of his weight by 6:30AM and caught only small fish after that. He threw a fire tiger Bill Norman crankbait and used a Zoom Ol Monster worm on his carolina rig. His boat sat in 25 feet of water and he threw his lures to a 5 foot ledge, with the fish hitting on top of the ledge or just off of the drop off.
Finishing in fifth place was Rex Chambers of Baileyton, AL with 13.55lbs. Chambers caught several limits of fish in the grass early, but wound up culling all of his fish late in the day with a topwater bait. He threw a clear Super Spook on 17lb P-line over 10 feet of water to catch largemouths that were feeding on schools of shad.
6th place: Brent Crow, Hartselle, AL 12.89
7th place: Clay Terry, Trinity, AL 11.70
8th place: Nick Reeves, Moulton, AL 10.11
9th place: Charley Hodle, Hartselle, AL 10.08
10th place: Donny Miller, Florence, AL 9.28
April 15. Eddie Prueitt Open, Wilson. It was another gorgeous day for the 36 fishermen that took on Wilson Lake in the fourth event of the 2012 Top Rod Solo Trail. Early morning clouds gave way to windy, wunny skies by noon, with a high near 80. The water temperature was around 70 degrees, and in the middle of April, most fishermen would expect to find the bass on the beds or close to the banks. However, with the mild winter and warm temps for the past six weeks, it seems that the fish in North Alabama are finished spawning and feeding again. That was certainly the case today on Wilson, as there were plenty of big smallmouths and largemouths brought in, including a new Top Rod Trail record stringer.
Taking first place was the 2011 Top Rod Angler of the Year, Nick Reeves of Moulton, AL
with 27.76lbs of Wilson Lake bass. Reeves’ record setting bag included two largemouth over six pounds and a six pound smallmouth. His largest weighed 6.64lbs to take the $180 big fish pot and he won $610 for first place and an additional $280 side pot for a nice $1070 total win. Reeves caught his fish on a variety of lures, including a shaky head worm, topwater, and an Alabama Rig with Skinny Dippers on 1/4oz heads.
Second place went to Allen Johnson of Trinity, AL with a solid 18.73lb sack. Johnson had a mixed bag of smallies and largemouths and took home $244 for second place and $120 in the side pot. He caught fish on a shaky head worm, but his weigh-in fish were all caught on an Alabama Rig with Zoom Swimming Flukes. He caught his fish in 10-15 feet of water.
Taking third place was Bryan Reeves of Orange Beach, AL with 17.79lbs. Reeves also weighed in a six pound smallmouth as part of his bag. He took home $183 for his third place finish that was caught on an Alabama Rig and a jig in 10 feet water.
In fourth place with 16.51lbs was Justin Rivers of Addison, AL. Rivers took home $122 for his catch, which was caught on a swimbait in 10 feet of water.
Taking the last check was Mark Trousdale of Rogersville, AL. Trousdale weighed in 14.92lbs of smallmouth that he caught on a 3/8oz brown jig in 10-15 feet of water.
6th place: Brent Crow, Hartselle, AL 14.79
7th place: Lee Black Danville, AL 14.01
8th place: Shawn Striker, Cullman, AL 13.84
9th place: Tony Tidwell, Horton, AL 12.84
10th place: Donny Miller, Florence, AL 12.66
March 11. Superior Scaffolding Open, Pickwick. Pickwick Lake has been one of the best lakes in the country lately, and 32 Top Rod Solo Trail anglers found out first hand how good it is on Sunday.The weather was perfect for fishing, with partly cloudy skies and temps in the 60s. The anglers found water temps around 60 degrees and plenty of bass, both smallmouth and largemouth were biting their lures. The full moon this week has the fish on the move into shallow waters, and nearly all the anglers reported catching them in water twelve feet deep and shallower. The weights were impressive, with at least three smallmouth over five pounds and three largemouth over six pounds coming to the scales along with 13 bags that weighed 15lbs or more.
When the final fish was weighed, it was Jacob Gibbs of Baileyton, AL coming out on top for the second straight tournament. Gibbs won last month’s tournament on Guntersville with a homemade Alabama Rig and used the same lure again for the win on Pickwick. He finished with 23.57lbs of bass including a 7.28 pounder that took over for big fish of the year and won the $160 big fish pot. Gibbs caught his fish, which were all largemouth, in 10 feet or less. He used 1/4oz jigheads with Lake Fork Magic Shad swimbaits on 65lb braid. He pocketed $570 for the win and also extended his lead in the Angler of the Year race.
In second place with an impressive 22.80lb bag of smallmouths and largemouths was Donny Miller of Florence, AL. Miller had a 5.90lb largemouth and four solid smallmouths on the day and collected $228 for his efforts. He caught his big largemouth on a spinnerbait and the four smallies fell to a Storm swimbait. All of his fish were caught in 10 feet or less.
Taking third place was North Alabama guide, Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL. Crow had 19.96lbs, which were all smallmouth and included a 6.26lb brute. He caught his fish on a homemade Alabama Rig in eight to ten feet of water and used Reaction Innovations’ Little Dippers in White Trash and 1/4oz jig heads on his rig. Crow threw the bait on a Dobyns 795ML Swimbait Rod and a Shimano Curado filled with 65lb P-Line Braid. He won $171 for his catch.
In 4th place was Wade Thorp of Florence, AL with a mixed bag that weighed 17.88lbs. Thorp was fishing his first Top Rod Event and took home $114 for his finish. He caught his fish jigging a fluke on a 1/4 jighead and throwing a KVD 1.5 crankbait on shallow banks.
The final check went to another first time entrant, Brad Weaver of Sheffield, AL with 16.65lbs. 5th place paid Weaver $57 on the day. His pattern details were not available.
6th: Dwayne Kelso, Moulton, AL 16.62
7th: Thomas Tucker, Sheffield, AL 16.60
8th: Lee Black, Danville, AL 16.26
9th: Ike Rogers, Florence, AL 15.61
10th: Rex Chambers, Baileyton, AL 15.60
10th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, AL 15.60
Feb 26 A&A Tackle/Shook and Fletcher Insulation Co Open, Guntersville. Lake Guntersville has been on fire lately, kicking out 30 pound stringers left and right and 41 anglers from three states were on hand to try out their luck in the second Top Rod Trail event of the season. The high winds that had buffeted the lake over the past week failed to show up, leading to a nice 60 degree sunny day. The conditions might have been better for the fishermen than the fish, however, as there were no eight pounders or 30 pound bags weighed in. Only at Guntersville could a 25lb winning weight and two more bags over 20lbs be considered an “off” day. Most fishermen reported a strong early bite that quit around 9AM and then picked up again in the afternoon.
Taking first place honors was Jacob Gibbs of Baileyton, AL with a new Top Rod Trail record of 25.60lbs. Gibbs easily takes over the top stringer of the year and also now owns the big bass of the year with his 7.26 largemouth that took the $205 big fish pot. Gibbs caught his fish on a homemade Alabama Rig, fishing grass edges in 8 feet of water. He threw his A-Rig on 65lb braid, and used 4.5 inch Strike King Shadilicious swimbaits on 1/4oz jigheads. Gibbs won $594 for first place in addition to his big fish award for a total payday of $799.
Second place finisher Rick Williams of Decatur, AL went against the grain, forgoing the Alabama Rig in favor of a Strike King 6XD crankbait. Williams fished creek channels in the midlake area and targeted 12-15 feet of water with his deep diver. He also lost a seven pound fish at the boat that would have boosted his 21.48 limit. Williams took home $264 for his second place finish.
Larry Sullivan of Decatur, AL also topped the 20 pound mark with a 20.78 pound limit that took third place honors. Sullivan caught one of his fish on an Alabama Rig in 30 feet of water, but his other four fish fell to an Excalibur XR50 One Knock Rattlebait. The rattlebait fish were caught in grass from 1-4 feet deep. Sullivan took home $198 for third place.
Local Guntersville guide Tim Chandler of Meridianville, AL caught 19.34 pounds to take the fourth place slot. Chandler threw a homemade Alabama Rig on grass lines in seven feet of water to catch 20 keepers on the day. He used 3.5inch Yum Money Minnows on 3/16oz jigheads on his A-Rig, which he tossed on 80lb Sunline Braid. Chandler received $132 for his catch.
In fifth place was Charlie Hodle of Hartselle, AL with 17.94lbs. Hodle’s catch was worth $66. Hodle also threw an Alabama Rig but reported no bites on it. He switched over to a 5/16oz Bang-It Jig to catch four of his keepers off of rocky points in 10-15 feet of water. He also weighed in a fish that he caught on an XR50 rattlebait.
The final check for $66 for 6th place went to Doug Webster of Pinson, AL. Webster had 17.77lbs of bass on the day that were also caught on an Alabama Rig. He used 80lb braid with 3/8oz jigheads and Yum Money Minnows on his rig. Webster caught his fish in five feet of water in dead grass.
7th place: Tony Tidwell, Horton, AL 17.52
8th place: Blake Hall, Hartselle, AL 16.77
9th place: Lee Black, Danville, AL 16.45
10th place: John Oliver, Russellville, AL 16.44
Jan. 8. Dobyns Rods Open, Smith Lake Dam. The 2012 Top Rod Solo Trail kicked off its second season with the Dobyns Rods Open at Smith Lake. There was a solid turnout of 34 fishermen on a damp foggy day in January. The sun never made an appearance, but air temps were in the low 60′s and water temps were in the low 50′s. The recent rains have Smith Lake near full pool, but the clear water and full moon made it fairly tough on most of the fishermen.
Taking first place and an early lead in the Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year race was Brad Voegele of Addison, AL, who brought a huge 7.20lb largemouth to the scales. The lunker was part of his winning bag of 13.24lbs. Voegele took home $590 for the win and pocketed an additional $170 for big fish. He reported catching his winning fish on a shaky head and a jig.
In second place, just ounces shy of victory was Andy Chappell of Warrior, AL. Chappell, who owns A&A Tackle in Gardendale, AL, weighed in a combination of largemouth and spots totalling 13.01lbs. He caught his fish on a spinnerbait and a shaky head throughout the day. Chappell won $236 for his efforts.
The third place finisher was Lee Black of Danville, AL. Black had 12.01lbs of spotted bass that he also caught on a jig and a shaky head worm. Black took home the 3rd place check for $177.
In fourth place was Roger Sams of Cullman, AL. He also utilized a jig and a shaky head worm to bring in 11.92lbs of spotted bass. Sams won $118 for his fourth place finish.
Taking the last check was Jamie Butler of Jasper, AL. Butler had 11.71lbs of spotted bass that he caught on a shaky head and a drop shot. He took the last check of $59.
The rest of the top 10:
6th. Donnie Miller, Florence AL 11.54
7th. John Oliver 9.42
8th. Jesse Wiggins, Addison, AL 6.91
9th. Sam Johns, Cullman, AL 6.84
10th. John Conwell, Birmingham, AL 6.64