Damien Wills and Tyler Kiker in tough conditions

By Jason Duran

The Alabama Bass Trail North Division faced the conditions and completed another successful event at Lewis Smith Lake.

The first-place team of Damien Wills and Tyler Kiker weighed in 15.42 pounds. ABT photo

Teams prepared throughout the week ahead of the event with springtime weather conditions and temps in the 70s. However, on tournament day, the conditions drastically changed back to winter conditions with temps in the low 30s and winds at 15 mph, and snowfall.  ABT anglers are some of the best in the country, and the weights prove they can catch them no matter the conditions. 

The first-place team of Damien Wills and Tyler Kiker weighed in 15.42 pounds. ABT photo

The first-place team of Damien Wills and Tyler Kiker weighed in 15.42 pounds. They spent Thursday and Friday practicing expecting the conditions to change as predicted. During practice, they felt the fish were moving up shallow due to the warmer weather and warming water.  Expecting the change to push the fish out deeper, they spent most of Friday locating areas of deeper water where they should go when the conditions changed. They were able to catch some big fish in practice out deep and hoped more would move out there. 

Tournament day was really a tough start. The air temps were very cold. “We started our morning targeting fish in deeper areas we found in practice. Spending most of the morning trying to locate the fish out deep only produced two small fish, and we were just about ready to go home. We decided to abandon this plan and make a change at 11:00.” The decision was to use a “Rapala DT10 Crankbait in crawfish color and run the stuff that looks good, so we picked out what we liked best and went fishing.” The wind was strong, so they used that to their advantage. Smith Lake is a deep clear water lake, and when the wind blows, it often makes the fishing better. “We fished areas that were some of the windiest spots on the lake and had these all to ourselves because most teams were trying to get out of the wind. The wind was key in positioning the fish just right. The DT10 crankbait is easy to throw in the wind, so it was also a big factor to catching these fish because we could make the cast in the wind.  We caught 20-25 fish running this pattern and culled up to the 15.42 pounds and collected a $10,000 first-place prize plus bonuses from Phoenix Boats, Wedowee Marine, and Garmin making the total payday $18,000.”

Gregory Lamb and David Powell took second place with 14.87 pounds shared, “We had a pretty good practice and found

Gregory Lamb and David Powell took second place with 14.87 pounds. ABT photo

an area early Wednesday that had some good largemouth in it, so we left it alone. This morning when we pulled in there, the wind had beat it to death, pushing the fish on the bank. We probably didn’t catch a fish over three feet deep.  We are shallow water fishermen.  We caught fish on a finesse worm, a square bill and a chatter bait. The area we fished was a little shallow bank with a soft plateau on it. It was full of three- and four-pound largemouth. In practice we made one pass over it and decided this was where we were going to go. Despite the drastic change in air temperature, the water temps were still 57° today just like they were in practice.  We were surprised at how well the area held up. We lost a couple of fish that probably could have moved us up, but that’s just how it goes.” They collected a nice $5,000 pay day. 

The third-place team of Kelly White and Rich Welch weighed in 14.53 pounds bouncing back after zeroing their first event. They spent three days of practice preparing for this event and planned to start in the back of a creek in the Duncan Bridge area. When they arrived, someone was already fishing that spot, so they decided to scramble and find another area settling on a shallow point with brush and gravel. In this area they used a wacky-rig and shaky head and caught a bunch of 13–16-inch slot limit fish they had to release. They realized there were a lot of fish in the area though.

The third-place team of Kelly White and Rich Welch weighed in 14.53 pounds. ABT photo

“The colder weather seemed to make the spotted bass settle down in an area because earlier in the week when the temperatures were warmer, the fish were chasing bait and more spread out. This time of year, you want to be on a north facing shallow clay bank, and that’s exactly where we were today.” They used the forward facing sonar to their advantage and, later in the day, were able to “move off the point a little and see the fish to find there were more fish there than they realized.” They made a couple more moves throughout the day and were able to catch fish each time they moved. Today they mostly caught slot fish and probably caught 15-20 fish from Rock Creek to Duncan Bridge. They caught the biggest fish of the event at 5.67 pounds. 

Two hundred of the 250 teams checked in to fish, and at the end of the tournament, 127 Teams had a five fish limit. One hundred eighty-five teams weighed in at least one fish. Fourthest place had 10.81 pounds and was the last place to get a check of $500. This is one of the reasons why ABT teams are so successful at the next level because even when they face tough conditions, they still come out successful. 

 The Top 10 places are below for a complete list of standings visit: https://www.alabamabasstrail.org/lewis-smith-lake/results/

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