2019 Alabama Bass Trail Open on Lay Lake Preview Story
with Wesley Sams, Jordan Wiggins, Chris Rutland and Coby Carden
By Jason Duran
This week the 2019 Alabama Bass Trail Season draws to a close with the Open. This is the second year the ABT has hosted an Open. With a field of 229 teams, this year’s tournament will be the largest field ever for an ABT Tournament. Shelby County Commission and Lay Lake are the host for this highly anticipated event.
Wesley Sams and Jordan Wiggins are fresh off the 2019 ABT Championship win on Lake Guntersville and are the defending ABT Open winners with 14.92 on Smith Lake. Last year everyone knew they were the team to beat on Smith Lake, and they held up to those expectations. This year they are looking forward to another great event, but this time they are not the favorites.
The team of Chris Rutland and Coby Carden are the team everyone has their eyes on. They won three out of six ABT events on Lay Lake. It’s no secret they are looking to take home the win this year and continue their dominance on Lay Lake.
The cooler temperatures that have finally made it to Alabama have caused the fish to start moving into a fall pattern, but according to Coby, “they really aren’t there just yet. The shad are just starting to move in the shallows, and it seems the lake may be a little behind the fall pattern.” Coby lives on the lake and said “right now I believe the whole lake can produce fish.” Guys who like to fish ledges, the bank or the shallows will have their pick this weekend. Coby believes a topwater pattern or a midrange crankbait could be a very effective bait this weekend.
From dam to dam this lake is full of largemouth and spotted bass. Some guys who struggle in practice may find ways to get lucky on tournament day and catch a big bag. This time of year, a team could pull up on a group of schooling fish and change the outcome of the tournament. Like most spotted bass lakes current could play an important factor as well in this event.
For Chris and Coby the chance of a “four peat” is great. They like the lake in the fall and feel the chances of all teams catching fish is great. “Catching five fish shouldn’t be hard for all teams this time of year,” but the key to winning this event will be finding the bite that breaks you away from the 16-18 lb bag. An event last weekend was won with a little over 18lbs of all spotted bass. The expectation from teams this year is that it will take a minimum of 18-20lbs to win this weekend.
Last year’s open win for Sams and Wiggins was “the biggest tournament they had every won” and the Championship was an even greater win for them this year. In this sport, momentum often plays a part in winning. When a team seems to have momentum in their favor, they are sometimes hard to beat. Rutland and Carden have the home field advantage and the proven track record on Lay Lake. In this event these two teams seem to have the momentum flowing in their favor.
With a total payout of over $70,000, the competition will be tough this weekend and the fishing on Lay Lake will be some of the best.
The sponsors of the 2019 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Bass Boats, Bill Penney Toyota, Garmin, Academy Sports & Outdoors, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Sweet Home Alabama, Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, T-H Marine Supplies, Wedowee Marine, Buffalo Rock, Mountain Dew, Jack’s, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Alabama Power Company, Lew’s Fishing, AFTCO, YETI, Power Pole, Big Bite Bait Company and E3 Apparel.
For information about Alabama Bass Trail and for complete tournament standings visit www.alabamabasstrail.org.