Guntersville ended up being the most under whelming of the 4 Elite Series tournaments so far, but it still produced quality bags. I guess I just expected more bags that would get anglers into the Busch Shootout. Ike was the only to crack the Top 10 for the season, he is likely to get bumped at Clarks Hill or Champlain for sure.
1st: Mike Iaconelli – Ike fished about 50/50 deep vs. shallow. Day 1 & 4 were predominantly sight fishing and the rest of the time was spent targeting pre & post spawn fish. He used a finesse type presentation for the shallow fish using the a Berkley Beast & Gulp Noodle both with Tru-Tungsten Tungsten Sinkers . He used a nail in the tail of the noodle to give it a reverse fall. His deeper fish he targeted with chartreuse/blue back Frenzy & Rapala DT6 crankbaits.
2nd: Alton Jones – Alton Jones made it close, but he lost his biggest bite each of the 4 days and weighed two dead fish. He finished just 2 ounces behind Iaconelli, & like Ike, he had both deep fish and spawning fish.
Nearly all the deep fish he weighed bit a spinnerbait. “I was fishing it real slow on the outside edge of the hydrilla – anywhere from 7 to 15 feet deep. “That Booyah Spinnerbait (white with a single, gold willow-leaf blade) was definitely my main deal, but I had to mix it up with some spawning fish,” he added. “I wasn’t sight-fishing though. I was casting a Yum Dinger (green pumpkin) in good spawning areas where the water was a little too deep to see them. He also lost a 7lb+ the last day on a Fat Free Shad . It really seems like this was Jone’s tournament to lose.
3rd: Steve Kennedy – Kennedy focused exclusively on sight-fish, and for the most part, they were males. Kennedy targeted mostly sandy spots along main lake points and main creeks. The males ranged from 2.5 – 4.5 lbs, most of them likely guarding fry rather than spawning. The baits of choice were a watermelon/green pumpkin laminate Smallie Beaver and a green pumpkin Kinami Flash .
4th: Kevin VanDam – Kevin VanDam was basically committed to his deep hydrilla fish. He tried some new things on the final day in a gamble to win, but they didn’t work. “I was mainly slow-rolling a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait around grass on ledges,” he said. “I was fishing on the outside edge – the deep side. “I’d slow-roll it, then try to shake it a lot and twitch it. I was trying to make it look like a wounded shad. You couldn’t just reel it straight.” KVD’s spinnerbait of choice was a Strike King Premier Pro Model in a blue shad. He also credits his Biosonix for activating shad with triggered more neutral fish into biting, you can find Biosonix units at Basspro.com.
5th: Gerald Swindle – Gerald Swindle fished deeper water all tournament. “I was slow-rolling a 1/2-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbait in main-river milfoil beds in 3 to 6 feet of water,” he said. The pattern also centered on the shad spawn.” He also noted that if a fish missed his spinnerbait, he’d fire back right away with a Lucky Craft LVR D-7 lipless crank. He also used a new G-String low stretch mono that was developed for Berkley, it will be launched at ICAST show.