FLW Tour readies to kickoff 2017 season at Lake Guntersville
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published January 20, 2017
The first tournament of the 22nd season of the FLW Tour, the most competitive Tour in professional bass-fishing, kicks off Feb. 2-5 with the FLW Tour at Lake Guntersville presented by Lowrance. Hosted by the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature 330 of the world's best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.
"Guntersville is setting up a little differently than it has the last couple of years," said local FLW Tour pro Alex Davis of Albertville, Alabama, who has 12 top-10 finishes on Lake Guntersville in FLW competition. The weather has been warm, so the fishing has been a little tough. The fish are still here, but I think they are just doing stuff a little different and anglers haven't been able to figure it out yet."
Davis said that the tournament anglers will have to make a decision on how they want to approach the event - fish the grass or battle the boat traffic on the community bridges and creeks.
"It's really no secret anymore," Davis said. "Those major bridges and big creeks play a big factor in tournaments held here and they have for years. South Sauty Creek, North Sauty Creek, Brown Creek - all of them hold large quantities of quality fish. But, if you go to those bridges you're going to have to get in there and join the crowds.
"People that don't fish a bridge are going to be fishing some sort of grass, whether it's the deeper hydrilla or shallow milfoil," Davis continued. "The last few years, every major tournament that has fished here I have predicted that there was too much pressure on the bridges and there was no way that the tournament would be won there. But, every year I have been wrong."
Davis said that jigs, crankbaits and swimbaits would be popular on the bridges, whereas anglers fishing the grass would be throwing rattle baits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and bladed jigs.
"I think that the winner is going to weigh in a four-day total around 85 pounds," said Quaker State pro Scott Canterbury of Springville, Alabama. "The lake is fishing a little tough but Guntersville is legendary for big bass and huge weights and I know the big ones still live there."
"I think we're going to see 85 to 90 pounds," added Davis. "There are going to be some huge limits weighed in. If a guy can average 20 to 22 pounds a day, he's going to be right there at the end."
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. CST each day from the Guntersville City Harbor located at 201 Blount Ave., in Guntersville. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins, Feb. 2-3, will also be held at the Guntersville City Harbor beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's weigh-ins, Feb. 4-5, will be held at the Guntersville City Harbor but will begin at 4 p.m.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at Guntersville City Harbor from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The Expo is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation's Unified Fishing Derby will be held at Guntersville City Harbor on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 9-11 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to area youth 15 years of age and younger and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one.
As part of the FLW Tour's community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit elementary students at Cherokee Elementary School in Guntersville on Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 8-9:30 a.m. to introduce students to fishing and outdoor activities in their community. During the presentations the pro anglers will reinforce how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) relate to outdoor activities as well as boating safety. Another contingent of FLW Tour pros will visit patients at the Marshall Medical Center in Guntersville at the same time to interact with guests, snap photos and sign autographs for patients and share fishing stories.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field of 330 anglers competes in the two-day opening round. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday's weigh-in, while the top 20 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina Aug. 11-13.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lake Guntersville presented by Lowrance is more than $800,000, including $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro Division.