Conditions shaping up for a slugfest on Guntersville.
Tornado warnings last night, bright, sunny and beautiful this morning. The 2014 Bassmaster Classic is underway, and, if pre-launch weather patterns (and tournament expectations) hold true, the 55 anglers heading out onto Lake Guntersville should be prepared for a Classic for the ages. 'The lake, I feel, is going to produce the size fish it will need to set the record,'' said Guntersville local Chris Lane. ''The boat traffic will probably set records, too, because the weather is shaping up pretty nice. Records are going to fall in so many ways here on Lake Guntersville.'' Big words? Perhaps, but echoed by almost every angler in the field. 'To get to the final day, you're probably going to need about 17 pounds a day,' said Plano pro Chad Morgenthaler. 'To win it, though, you're probably going to have to have a 30-pound bag. Guntersville has so many big fish, you could theoretically be 15 pounds behind on the last day and weigh enough to catch up. You can't discount anybody.
'++ Skeet Reese ponders the day ahead
The weather throughout Alabama has been similarly schizophrenic for weeks - record cold snaps two weeks ago, snow and winds during Classic practice, tornado warnings last night, and bluebird skies and highs in the low 60s today - but conditions have shaped up in the past 48 hours (significant warming, fluctuating barometric pressure) to turn on Guntersville's largemouth.+++ Big time.
'There's been five or six baits being talked about this week, and one of those five or six baits - or maybe a couple of them - are going to be THE baits that win,'' said Rapala pro Mike Iaconelli. ''There are no secret baits here this week, but there are subtleties. At the end of the day, it's about adjusting to the fish. The fish are changing: the water's clearing, the water's warming and you have to go fish the moment.'
Decks were littered with an assortment of baits this morning, but three baits were prevalent: lipless crankbaits, chatterbaits and swimbaits.+++ NOTES: Gary Klein is fishing his 30th Classic, all with a Mercury motor ... at 6-foot-9, David Kilgore is the tallest competitor in Classic history ... this might be the most ''local'' Classic ever, judging by the number of anglers who call Guntersville their home lake: Lane, Randall Tharp, Jordan Lee, Gerald Swindle, Randy Howell, Greg Vinson (and yes, we'll include Californian Aaron Martens, who has made his home in Leeds, AL for nearly 10 years).