2013 Results

Dobyns Rods Championship at Guntersville Lake.

Final  Standings:

Jonathan Henry 19.36  19.34    38.70    $5,000

Kevin McMahon 21.01  17.57   38.58    $2,000

Lee Black 11.88  18.56               30.44    $1,500

Jason Preuitt 18.94   9.09          28.03    $1,000

Brent Crow 13.44    14.40         27.84     $500

Josh Butler 6.46     14.18           20.64

Nick Reeves 4.06    16.19          20.25

John Oliver 7.28     12.43           19.71

Justin Aaron 8.87    10.45          19.32

Charlie Hodle 8.22    11.07       19.29

Jack Morris 6.87   2.05                8.92

Cliff Bates 3.28    5.42                8.70

Joel Green 7.89 0                        7.89

Rex Chambers 7.70  0               7.70

Allen Johnson 5.15   0               5.15

 

 

A&A Tackle-Smith Lake BP and Tackle Open at Smith Lake, October 20.

Story and pics to follow.

1. Nick Reeves 13.95

2. Jesse Wiggins 12.80

3. John Davis 10.86

4, Lee Black 10.30

5. Brent Crow 9.60

6. Jamie Butler 9.59

7. Allen Johnson 9.37

8. John Oliver 9.09

9. Jamie Anderson 7.61

10. Rex Chambers 6.69

Eddie Preuitt Ford Open at Wilson-Pickwick Lakes September 8.

Wilson Lake is always a favorite stop for Top Rod Solo Trail anglers with the Wheeler Dam tailrace and the numerous big smallmouth and largemouths it holds. The pre-tournament dock talk was all gloom and doom this time around though, with seemingly all of the nineteen anglers singing the blues before the tourney started. As always, however, someone will catch them, and on WIlson Lake, it will more often than not be Nick Reeves of Moulton, who turned two huge bites into another Top Rod Solo Trail victory. Overall, it was a tough day for most anglers, with relatively low weights for a day that was perfect weatherwise: 85 degrees and sunny with a gentle breeze. Water temps were in the mid 80s, and the lake was clear. With one stop remaining on the trail, there is also a new leader in the Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year standings, as Josh Butler took over the lead from Johnathan Henry, who had held the lead since his season opening win at Guntersville.

Nick Reeves

Nick Reeves

Reeves last minute heroics

Taking home the first place prize of $570 was Nick Reeves of Moulton, AL with four fish that weighed in at 15.19lbs. Reeves, who won a 2012 event on Wilson with nearly 28lbs, weighed in a 5.92lb largemouth that took the Allied Crawl Space Big Fish prize of $100 and also had a smallmouth over five pounds. Reeves is always a threat to win any tournament on Wilson Lake if TVA is generating power at Wheeler Dam, but he strayed downriver on this day to catch the winning fish. Revisiting one spot that he had caught a few little fish on on Friday, he managed to catch a fish on each occasion he fished it on Sunday. The last time was just ten minutes before weigh in, when the lunker largemouth inhaled his Bill Norman DD22 and gave him another Top Rod victory.

Tyler Hines

Tyler Hines

Hines also cranked

Finishing in second place was Tyler Hines of Florence, AL with 13.70lbs of bass. Hines was fishing just his second Top Rod event, and would have taken home the victory if Reeves hadn’t visited his magic spot just before time to check in. Hines takes home $285 for his second place finish. He also caught his fish on a deep running crankbait, a Strike King 6XD, as well as a 1/2ounce black and brown jig with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver as a trailer.

Austin Weaver

Austin Weaver

Weaver went deep

Taking home the final check for third place was Austin Weaver of Florence, AL with 13.60lbs. Weaver took home $95 for his catch, which also came on a deep running crankbait. Weaver used a Spro Little John crankbait and a green pumpkin Berkley 10 inch power worm to catch his limit of largemouths.

Jordan Wiggins

Jordan Wiggins

4th Jordan Wiggins 13.39

John Oliver

John Oliver

5th John Oliver 11.71

6th Josh Butler 10.09

7th Norman Ligon 9.91

8th Charlie Hodle 8.08

9th Blaine Shelton 6.80

10th Taylor Luna 6.60

T-H Marine- Lawler BBQ Open at Wheeler Lake, June 23. Wheeler Lake may not be what it was in its heyday back in the early 1990’s, but it continues to turn out some nice bags of bass in 2013. Even though the hydrilla and milfoil grasses that made Wheeler Lake such a great fishery are long gone, the lake is churning out tons of 3 to 4 lb fish and local anglers all agree that it is as healthy of a fishery as it has been in a long time. Twenty-six top local anglers turned out for the 6th stop on the Top Rod Solo Trail on a beautiful June Sunday, and the majority of them found what they were looking for. It took 19.59lbs to get a check and tenth place was 15.09lbs with ten other anglers weighing in 10.65lbs or more. The water temperature was 86 degrees, pushing the fish into their deep water summer haunts, and the bright sunshine and good current helped trigger those fish to bite. The Shelton Outdoor’s Angler of the Year race also tightened up, with several anglers in striking distance with two regular season tournaments left.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Butler’s swimbait did it.

Leading the pack and notching his first Top Rod Solo Trail victory was Josh Butler of Hayden, AL. Butler had a mixed bag of largemouths and smallmouths that weighed a total of 21.71lbs and took home the first place prize of $650. He caught 30-40 keepers on the day, using a Blue Gizzard Strike King Shadalicious swimbait on a 1/2 ounce swimbait head. He tossed it into 3-10 feet of water in the strongest current he could find to catch his fish.

Brent Crow

Brent Crow

As the Crow flies.

Finishing in second place was local guide Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL who was the 2012 Top Rod Angler of the Year. Crow operates North Alabama Guide Service and has spent the majority of his time this year on Guntersville and Pickwick, with little time to fish Wheeler. However, he was able to catch 20.10lbs of largemouths to collect $325 for second place. Crow caught several fish early on a Strike King Sexy Dawg topwater, but wound up culling them all on his way back to Decatur around noon. He caught 35 keepers on the day, and all of his weigh fish came on a 3/4ounce Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig with a Green Pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw trailer. His best five fish came from a shellbed in 18 feet of water. He tossed his jig on 20lb PLine flourocarbon on a Dobyns 745DX rod.

Jason Borden

Jason Borden

Borden’s stellar debut.

Jason Borden of Somerville, AL fished his first Top Rod Solo event and made his debut a strong one with 19.63lbs to take home $195 for 3rd place. He had a mixed bag of smallmouth and largemouth that he caught off of rockpiles in 20 feet of water. Borden caught 30 keeper bass on the day, using a Carolina Rig. He used a 3/4ounce weight and a Green Pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog to complete his Carolina Rig.

Tony Harvey

Tony Harvey

Harvey had em.

Taking home the final check for $130 was Tony Harvey of Athens, AL with a solid 19.59lb bag of smallmouth and largemouth. Harvey made the long run downriver and fished in 20 feet of water to catch his fish. He used a crankbait and a 1/2ounce homemade football jig to catch 35 fish on the day.

Charlie Hodle

Charlie Hodle

Hodle in top ten again

Finishing in 5th place, which was just out of the money, was Charlie Hodle of Hartselle, AL. This is the third consecutive top ten finish for Hodle, who once again caught them on his own jigs that he makes and sells. Hodle’s Custom Made Baits tackle shop in Hartselle should be attracting a few customers to pick up some of the jigs that allowed him to sack up 17.66lbs of largemouths on Sunday. He used a Zoom super chunk as a trailer and caught his fish in 10-20 feet of water.

Justin Aaron

Justin Aaron

Justin Aaron with the Allied Crawlspace Big Fish- 6.15lbs

6th place: Justin Poole, Trinity, AL 16.42lbs

7th place: Johnathan Poole, Trinity, AL 16.21lbs

8th place: Allen Johnson, Decatur, AL 15.86lbs

9th place: Justin Aaron, Morris, AL 15.54lbs

10th place: Tony Russell, Decatur, AL 15.09lbs

Superior Scaffolding- Shook and Fletcher Insulation Open at Guntersville Lake, May 26. Guntersville Lake once again showed why it is one of the top bass lakes in the world, with 22 Top Rod Solo anglers on hand for the fifth event of the season. Boat ramps were full of trailers all over the lake, and the ski boats and jetskis were out in full force for the holiday weekend, but the fish still bit for most anglers and plenty of impressive weights came across the scales. In fact, it took an incredible 24.51lbs of bass just to get the final check and 17.87 just to make the top 10. The fish were mostly post spawners with water temps in the high 70s and are schooling up in deep water. The weather was gorgeous, with highs in the 80s and mostly sunny all day.  There are three tournaments left in the 2013 Top Rod Season culminating in the season ending championship on Guntersville.

Richard Peek

Richard Peek

Peek’s peak.

Richard Peek of Centre, AL took home his first Top Rod Solo trail victory with a solid bag of 28.52lbs of largemouths. He won $550 for his efforts and caught all of his fish in deep water. Peek used a Sexy Shad colored Strike King 6XD crankbait, a Bo’s Jigs 3/4ounce football jig with a Green Pumpkin Zoom Speed Craw and a Keitech swimbait on a 1/2 ounce swimbait head to ply the 20-30 foot depths. He caught 15 keepers on the day and just missed taking home big fish honors with a 6.66lb brute.

Norman Brown

Norman Brown

Brown in Browns

Norman Brown of Moulton,AL finished in 2nd place on the day and won the Allied Crawl Space Big Fish award. He netted $275 for his finish and $100 for big bass with 25.10lbs and a 6.72lb lunker. Brown also fished deep in the Brown’s Creek area of the lake and targeted fish with a swimbait. He used a 1/2ounce head and a paddletail swimbait to pluck 20-25 keepers out of 20 feet of water.

Kevin McMahan

Kevin McMahan

McMahan’s milfoil

Taking 3rd place with 24.88lbs of Guntersville bass was Kevin McMahon of Huntsville, AL. He won $165 for his day of fishing and was one of the few top finishers that fished the grass for his bass. McMahan tossed a 1/2ounce Meanmouth jig in green pumpkin with a Green Pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw trailer in the milfoil and went through 30 keepers on the day. He caught them from 1-13 feet of water over the growing grass.

Justin Rivers

Justin Rivers

Rivers’ deep

Taking the final check in 4th place was Justin Rivers of Addison, AL with 24.51lbs of fat Guntersville bass. Rivers also fished deep, catching his fish in 15-25 feet of water on a 3/4 ounce football jig and a swimbait.

Henry’s bridge

Fifth place finisher Johnathan Henry of Grant, AL weighed in yet another 24lb bag with a final total of 24.43lbs. Henry caught all of his fish off of the Browns’ creek bridge on a swimbait. He threw a paddletail swimbait on a 1/2ounce head in 8-20 feet of water and caught 30 keepers on the day.

6th place: Lee Black, Danville, AL 22.14

7th place: Rex Chambers, Baileyton, AL 20.41

8th place: Justin Aaron, Morris, AL 20.13

9th place: Charlie Hodle, Hartselle, AL 19.83

10th place: Josh Butler, Hayden, AL 17.97

Smith Farms-Cullman Primary Care Open at Smith Lake, April 21. There is no doubt that the bass fishing on Lewis Smith Lake is on an upswing, and April always the best time to fish the deep clear lake. This is the one time of year that the fish are close to the banks, and somewhat easy to catch as they think about spawning. Thirty-nine anglers turned out for the 4th Top Rod Solo Trail event of the year, launching out of Smith Lake Dam, and most reported catching 20 to 40 fish on the day. The cold weather that has hung around North Alabama all year showed up again on Friday, with another cold front that dropped the air temps to 42 degrees at takeoff on Sunday. It became a beautiful sunny day, with temps nearing 70 degrees by the time the tournament ended. Water temps ranged from 62-68 degrees, and the fish are in all stages of the spawn. There were post spawn and prespawn fish weighed in, and sight fishing was a major factor as well. Rex Chambers of Baileyton, AL almost cracked the 20lb mark to take the win with 19.49lbs, which is a monster bag on Smith Lake. He also had a giant 8.34lb largemouth to take home the Life Like Taxidermy Big Fish award. There are four more tournaments left in the 2013 Top Rod Season culminating in the season ending championship on Guntersville.

Rex Chambers

Rex Chambers

Chambers on a roll

Rex Chambers of Baileyton, AL had one heck of a weekend on the water. After winning a Homeland Security Tournament on Wheeler Lake with over 100 boats on Saturday, Chambers made it two wins in two days with his first Top Rod victory. He had an absolute monster largemouth for Smith Lake with an 8.34lber and added a couple of big spots with it for his 19.49 winning weight. He took home $877 for first place, and will also cash in with the Phoenix First Flight program and the T-H Marine Angler Rewards program. He also won $100 for the Life Like Taxidermy Big Fish. Chambers has fished Smith Lake for many years and he used his experience to blow away a solid field of regular Top Rod anglers and some of Smith Lake’s finest sticks. He was one of the few top finishers that did not target spawning fish. Instead, he caught most of his weigh fish on a black and brown 3/4oz homemade football jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw trailer in brushpiles. Some of his other fish came on a Bull Shad swimbait, an Alabama Rig and a shaky head worm. He caught his fish in 10 feet or less using each bait.

Craig Daniel

Craig Daniel

Daniel sight fishes his way to 2nd.

There has never been a better Smith Lake bass fisherman than Craig Daniel of Cullman, AL, and there may not be a better sight fisherman anywhere in the country. Everyone that fishes a tournament on Smith Lake in April knows that Mr. Daniel is going to be hard to beat and he has certainly won his share of Smith Lake derbies. After winning a team tournament on Saturday out of Smith Lake Park, Daniel had another solid bag of 15.02lbs to take home $488 for 2nd place. Daniel used his 30 years of experience on Smith Lake to find a mixed bag of spots and largemouths. There aren’t many visible spawners up right now, but Daniel will always find them if they are to be found. Daniel used a variety of Zoom plastics to catch his spawners, with most falling for a green pumpkin finesse worm on a 1/4oz jighead. He threw it on a spinning rod with 8lb test P-Line flouroclear.

Payton McGinnis

Payton McGinnis

McGinnis also targets spawners.

Young Payton McGinnis of Jasper, AL doesnt have the experience on the water that many Smith Lake regulars do, but he is becoming a regular top ten performer whenever the Top Rod visits Smith. He had a solid 14.18lbs of spots and largemouths to take home 3rd place and $292. McGinnis also targeted fish that were spawning with a variety of lures, although he didnt sight fish for all of them. He was able to catch some on a topwater and a swimbait that he reeled over areas that he thought the fish were on the bed. He also caught some on a shaky head with a Zoom finesse worm.

Hodle catches on his customs

In 4th place was Charlie Hodle of Hartselle, AL with  13.78lbs of spots and largemouths. He took home $195 for his finish, which he caught on his own jigs and shaky heads. Hodle owns the newest tackle shop in North Alabama, Custom Made Baits, which is located on Highway 31 in Hartselle. In addition to a full line of tackle and Dobyns Rods, Hodle stocks a full supply of his custom jigs and shaky heads. He used several different colors of his jig in 1/4 and 1/2oz with a Strike King Rage chunk trailer in 3-8 feet of water.

Don Hubbard

Don Hubbard

Hubbard catches them again

Taking the final check for $97 was another Smith Lake legend, Don Hubbard of Cullman, AL. with 13.53lbs of spots. He and his regular partner are always a force to be reckoned with on Smith Lake with nearly 40 years of experience on the water. They are at their best in the winter and early spring, and today was another example of that. Hubbard targeted fish in spawning areas, throwing at anything he thought could be a bed. He tossed a shaky head with a Zoom finesse worm and a homemade brown jig to catch his fish.

6th place: Carlton Pitts, Cullman, AL 13.09

7th place: Kyle Miller, Jasper, AL 12.99

8th place: Nick Reeves, Moulton, AL 12.92

9th place: Shane Cole, Empire, AL 12.48

10th place: Jacob Burns, Empire, AL 12.44

Drake Eye Center-Numa Optics Open at Wheeler Lake, March 24. Wheeler Lake doesnt get the publicity that its upstream and downstream neighbors on the Tennessee River chain, especially this year with all the 30+lb sacks coming from Pickwick and Guntersville. However, it does seem to be coming on strong and the 30 anglers fishing the Top Rod Solo Trail’s third event of the year brought in lots of fat, healthy fish on Sunday. The skies looked ominous all day, but the rain and strong winds held off until the weigh in, and it was a pleasant 58 degree day with a good breeze most of the day. Water temps hoevered around 55 degrees, and the Wheeler Lake bass were caught in prespawn patterns while they wait for it to warm up so they can go on the beds. Blaine Shelton caught his biggest bag ever on Wheeler Lake to take first place with an impressive 25.26lb limit, which is pretty impressive on any body of water. Also, the Life-Like Taxidermy big fish of the year now comes from Wheeler after Josh Butler caught an 8.79lb lunker to take big bass honors.

Blaine Shelton

Blaine Shelton

Shelton shows up,wins

Blaine Shelton of Moulton, AL hadn’t fished Wheeler Lake since the fall, but he showed why he is always a threat to win on his home lake. Shelton used some old locations and the latest lure to take home the top prize of $675 with his 25.26lb limit of largemouths. He had orginally planned to make a long run, but stopped close to the take off location a couple of times first and it paid off with two big fish. After that, he stuck around the Decatur area to catch his winning bag. Shelton threw a Venom Lures Umbrella Rig with 1/8oz jigheads and 4 inch swimbaits on 20lb Sunline flourocarbon line. He fished rocky banks and points in 8 feet of water and caught 10 keepers on the day.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Butler Bags a Giant.

Josh Butler of Hayden, AL took home $375 for second place with a 22.95lb limit that consisted of 4 largemouths and a smallmouth. His 8.79 lunker took the Life Like Taxidermy Big fish prize of $100 and also is now the big fish of the year leader. Butler also caught his fish around Decatur in 15 feet of water. He caught them on a single swimbait and an Alabama Rig and took advantage of an early morning bite. Butler threw a 4.5 inch Strike King Shadalicious in sexy shad on a 3/8oz head as a single swimbait and also used the same combination on his Alabama Rig.

Eddie Jewell

Eddie Jewell

Jewell shines again.

Eddie Jewell of Lawrenceburg, Tn has been a force in early spring Wheeler Lake tournaments over the past couple of years and he had another solid bag today with 22.05lbs to take home the 3rd place check for $225. Jewell had a mixed bag of smallmouth and largemouths and reported catching around 30 keepers on the day. He caught his fish on a 3/4oz spinnerbait and a 1/2 ounce Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait in 2-6 feet of water. He fished gravel bars and banks in the midlake area.

Reeves ran up

In 4th place was Nick Reeves of Moulton, AL with 19.57lbs of spotted bass and largemouths to take home $150. Reeves ran upriver and tossed a 3/4oz chartruese and white spinnerbait around laydown trees and rocky banks. He caught his fish from 2-15 feet of water and reported that some of them were suspended high off the bottom. Reeves caught 8 keepers on the day.

Henry keeps his lead

Taking the final $75 check for 5th place was Jonathan Henry of Grant, AL. Henry weighed in a 19.46lb limit of largemouths and also retained the lead in the Shelton’s Outdoors Angler of the Year race. He caught his fish in and around the Elk River arm of Wheeler, throwing a 1/2 ounce Killer Bass Baits spinnerbait in white and chartreuse. Henry caught most of his fish in 1-2 feet of water around boat docks on 17lb P-Line. He caught 10 keepers on the day.

6th. Rex Chambers, Baileyton, AL 17.99

7th Brent Crow, Hartselle, AL 17.62

8th Johnathan Poole, Trinity,AL 17.09

9th. Danny Hudson, Carbon Hill, AL 15.03

10th. Bobby Simmons, Lawrenceburg, TN 13.36

D&D Marine Open at Pickwick, Feb 17.

Take some cold water, plenty of current and just about any five swimbaits, put the swimbaits on an Alabama Rig, throw them into Pickwick Lake on 65lb braid and presto! Its time to catch some big bass and lots of them. Pickwick has always been famous for its big smallmouth bass, but years from now it may be even more famous as the birthplace of the Alabama Rig. The A-Rig was certainly a major factor on Sunday in the D&D Marine Open, the second stop of the 2013 Top Rod Solo Trail with 41 fishermen launching out of McFarland Park in Florence, AL in 20 degree temperatures. The cold weather didn’t hinder the fishing at all, in fact, it set up perfectly for anglers to throw the Alabama Rig, which was invented at Pickwick two years ago. The Alabama Rig has proven to be the best cold water bass bait on the planet, and the results from today certainly bore that out. It doesnt seem to matter to the bass what types of swimbaits or what color or what size they are, as long as you have five of them attached to an A-Rig. Water temperatures were in the high 40s, and the air temp did reach the low 50s with a mostly sunny day and only a light breeze at times. Another factor was the current, which has been heavy over the past month on the Tennessee River, with over 100,000cfs running through Wilson Dam for four straight weeks. TVA did have the spillways closed at the Dam today for the first time in a month, but again ran over 100,000cfs. When the scales closed for the day, an amazing 18 of the 41 anglers had weighed in 15 pounds of bass or more, with Ben Smith of Muscle Shoals, AL coming away with his first Top Rod Solo Trail victory. Smith finished with 21.87lbs of largemouth to edge second place finisher Shane Jewell of Lawrenceburg, TN, who had 21.14lbs. Lee Black of Danville, AL took the Lifelike Taxidermy big fish with a 6.59lb largemouth.

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Smith’s unusal combo pays off

Ben Smith went against the norm for his Alabama Rig components and it paid off with his first Top Rod victory and a check for $820. Five fat largemouths made up his winning weight of 21.87lbs. He did catch his fish on the A-Rig, but used glimmer blue colored Zoom Fat Albert Grubs rigged on 1/8ounce jigheads on the outside wires. On his middle wire, Smith used a one ounce Storm Swimbait instead of another grub. The added weight helped him get his rig deeper and stay down in 20 feet of water where he caught his winning fish. Smith said he caught about eight keepers on the day, and that scattered grass was nearby.

Shane Jewell

Shane Jewell

Jewell goes skinny dipping

Shane Jewell of Lawrenceburg, TN also used an Alabama Rig to catch a big bag of four largemouths and one smallmouth from the lower end of Pickwick. He took home $512 for his second place finish with a weight of 21.14lbs. Jewell used a more conventional approach in rigging his Alabama Rig, opting for Skinny Dipper swimbaits made by Reaction Innovations in money shot green and money shot violet. He rigged them on 1/8 and 1/4oz jigheads and threw the combo on 65lb braid to catch his fish out of 25 feet of water. He caught around 15 keepers on the day with his A-Rig.

Shawn Perrigo

Shawn Perrigo

Perrigo takes a dip too

Third place finisher Shawn Perrigo of Booneville, MS took home $307 after weighing in 20.43lbs of largemouth bass. Perrigo also visited the lower end of the lake and tossed an Alabama Rig to catch his fish. He also chose the Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper swimbait to adorn his Rig. Perrigo used the sexy shad color and rigged them on 1/4oz jigheads, which he threw on 65lb braid. He caught 12 keepers on they day en route to his final weight.

John Oliver

John Oliver

Oliver adds a blade

Finishing in fourth place with 20.41lbs of bass was John Oliver of Russellville, AL. Oliver had three nice smallmouth to go with two largemouths to help him earn $205 for 4th place. Oliver was the highest finisher to weigh multiple smallmouth, and they also fell for an Alabama Rig, although it may have been the most creative one thrown on the day. Oliver used a Terminator spinnerbait on his middle wire, with 3/8 oz jigheads rigged with Skinny Dippers on the outside wires. He caught his three big smallmouths on his first stop of the morning, in a 20 minute span, and had seven keepers total on the day. Oliver caught his fish in 15 feet of water.

Lee Black

Lee Black

Black takes lunker

In fifth place was Lee Black of Danville, AL with a 20.24lb bag of largemouths that also included the Lifelike Taxidermy big fish of the tournament, a 6.59lb brute. He took home $102 for fifth place and the $100 big fish prize. Black was the only money finisher that did not make the long run downriver to catch his fish, but he did throw the Alabama Rig to catch them. Using a homemade version in 3-8 feet around rocks, Black caught all of his fish on the A-Rig with 5 1/2 inch unnamed swimbaits rigged on 1/4 ounce heads. He opted for 50lb braid and caught around 10 keepers on the day.

Adam Neill

Adam Neill

Neill nails ’em.

Adam Neill of Florence, AL took home the last check of $102 with his sixth place weight of 19.03lbs. Neill also used the A-Rig to catch his fish in 10 feet of water. He went with Lil Spanky swimbaits made by Netbait in Albino and rigged them on 1/8ounce jigheads. Neill threw his combo on a Dobyns 735 Savvy Rod and a Shimano Curado E7 spooled with 65lb Power Pro braid.

7th place: Don Perkins, Counce, Tn 18.37

8th place: Shelby Barnes, Muscle Shoals, AL 17.75

9th place: Eddie Jewell, Lawrenceburg, TN 17.59

10th place: Bobby Simmons, Lawrenceburg, TN 17.40

Frogg Toggs Open at Guntersville, Jan 27.

The 2013 Top Rod Solo Trail is officially underway, and the season certainly got off to an amazing start at Guntersville Lake on Sunday. The Frogg Toggs Open was the first of eight regular season tournaments leading up to a $10,000 championship payback, and there was an impressive roster of North Alabama tournament anglers on hand to kick off the new season. All told, forty-five of the area’s top anglers took on the Big G, and from the looks of the weights of the fish brought to the scales, the anglers won this battle quite decisively. It took an amazing 19.34lbs to finish in the top ten, and there were at least six fish over six pounds weighed in for the big fish of the tournament. This was despite less than ideal water conditions on the lake, with the main river channel still muddy and lots of current from the deluge of rain over the past two weeks. Water temperatures were in the 49-50 degree range, and the sun never appeared on a cloudy day that saw air temps reach the mid fifties. When the parade of big bass had finished crossing the stage, local guide Jonathan Henry of Grant, AL,  walked away with his second straight Top Rod win at Guntersville with a solid 25.68lb stringer. Another local guide, Brent Crow of Hartselle, AL, took home the Life Like Taxidermy Big Fish of the tournament with an 8.43lb fish that also set a new Top Rod Solo Trail record for biggest bass weighed.

Henry went Super Shallow

Johnathan Henry

Jonathan Henry

Henry, who runs Basswhacker Guide Service on the lake, made it two for two in Top Rod Solo Trail events with his 25.68lb sack of largemouths and took home $900 for this victory. He had also won last July’s event on Guntersville with a 30lb stringer. Henry figured out his pattern midway through the day after a slow start to the morning. He struggled fishing mid depths and deeper grass before moving to the bank to find the winning fish. Henry said once he realized the fish were in two feet of water or less, he began to catch them consistently and wound up with 20 keepers on the day. He threw a Tomato Shad Lucky Craft RC 2.5 squarebill crankbait on rocky banks and also flipped a 1/2ounce Killer Bass Baits jig around wood laying close to the bank. He used a combination of Powell Rods and P-Line to throw the crankbait and jig.

Aaron’s old school Trap

Justin Aaron

Justin Aaron

Finishing in second place was Justin Aaron of Morris, AL with a solid 22.30lb stringer. Aaron took home $562 for his runner up finish in his first Top Rod Trail event. With all the new rattle baits on the market in recent years, the original Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap has fallen out of favor for many fishermen, but Aaron showed that it can still catch big Guntersville bass. He tossed a 1/2 ounce version in Red Craw on 20lb flourocarbon line to catch his limit plus eight more keepers. Aaron keyed on grasslines in six to seven feet with his Rat-L-Trap.

Lucas caught the right ones

Justin Lucas

Justin Lucas

Justin Lucas hasn’t lived in Guntersville long, but the California transplant showed once again that he is learning his way around pretty quickly. His 21.56lb stringer earned him $337 for third place in his first Top Rod event. Lucas used the Lucky Craft version of the rattle bait, the LV100 in Spring Craw and Aurora Brown to catch his fish. He had just six keepers on the day, but found the right ones in four to six feet of water around milfoil and hydrilla.

Leary uses the latest

Jim Leary

Jim Leary

Jim Leary of Guntersville finished in 4th place with 21.27lbs of bass to take home a check for $225. He also threw a rattle bait to catch his fish, choosing a new to the market 1/2 ounce Spro Aruku Shad in Purple Rain. Leary threw it on a 7’6″ Duckett Rods heavy action rod to rip it out of the grass in six feet of water. He culled up four times to get to his final weight.

Smith only A-Rigger

Mitch Smith

Mitch Smith

Mitch Smith of Cullman, AL took home the 5th place check of $112 with a solid  21.24 stringer. Unlike the top four finishers, he didn’t catch his fish on a crankbait or rattle bait, instead using the A-Rig to sack five solid keepers. He caught a few short fish, but never culled to get his final weight. Smith tossed his A-Rig on 65lb braid on grass points. Smith also found his fish deeper than anyone in the top five, catching them in 8-11 feet of water. He used 1/8 oz heads with Albino colored Reaction Innovations Skinny Dippers on his A-Rig.

6th Rick Williams 20.77 $112

7th Sam Johns 20.36

8th Mark Mccaig 19.75

9th Jerry Lemley 19.47

10th Norman Ligon 19.34

Jerry Lemley

Jerry Lemley

Rick WIlliams

Rick WIlliams

Norman Ligon

Norman Ligon

Sam Johns

Sam Johns

Life Like Taxidermy Big Fish: Brent Crow 8.43.

Brent Crow

Brent Crow

Crow, who runs North Alabama Guide Service took the $100 Big fish prize for his new Top Rod record big fish. He also takes over the lead for the Big Fish of the year with one that will be hard to top. Crow caught the fish in 6 feet of water on a 1/2oz Rayburn Red Excalibur Rattlebait. She inhaled the bait after he ripped it out of the milfoil. He caught it on a Dobyns Rods 704CB crankbait rod using 20lb P-Line Flourocarbon.

Comments
  1. jack morris says:

    Great job guys!!! hats off to ya…it was a tough day yesterday. See ya next month!!

  2. Chris Burcham says:

    Not only is Ben Smith a winner at Bass Fishing he is a keeper of a son in law. We are proud of you.

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