by Dan O’Sullivan
In a previous article about Alabama Bass Trail teams heading to the Bassmaster Team Championship, we highlighted the team of Hadley Coan and Scott Keeling, the second place team in the Alabama Bass Trail Northern Division points. In this story, we highlight the team of Chris Rutland and Coby Carden.
Rutland and Carden are no strangers to bass tournaments. Both anglers have been fishing tournaments for many years in the state of Alabama and beyond. Rutland began fishing events with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Russ Lane many years ago, and Carden is a veteran of many tournaments himself. In fact, Carden qualified for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville by winning the B.A.S.S. nation Southern Division Championship in 2013, and has again accomplished the feat this year to qualify for the 2015 Classic at Lake Hartwell.
That fact gives the team an interesting perspective on being at DeGray Lake in Arkansas for the Bassmaster Team Championship. “Our goal at this point is for both of us to be in the Bassmaster Classic in February,” said Rutland, from Wetumpka. “We are going to go there and work to put something together so we can be in position to go after that goal.”
That goal is something they seemed able to do at will throughout the Southern Division of the Alabama Bass Trail’s 2014 schedule. Rutland and Carden amassed 886 points, and had they finished just a few places higher in the second event of the season at Lake Eufaula, they would have won the points title for the season. Other than Eufaula, the team finished no worse than 20th place, and had a second place at the Alabama River then won the final event of the season at Lay Lake.
Being veterans of so many events throughout their careers, the pair is approaching the Team Championship as one would expect. “We’re not getting too worked up over it right now,” said Rutland. “We’ve both fished a lot of tournaments, so we know what to expect as far as the tournament itself goes; the fishing is another issue altogether.”
The pair is pulling out Friday after Thanksgiving to practice the lake before it goes off limits. “We’ll spend Saturday and Sunday on the water, then go back for the official practice,” he said. “We don’t know an awful lot about DeGray, but we’ve both fished in Arkansas, so we kind of have an idea what to expect.”
He said what little research he had done around his deer hunting this fall tells him that the lake fluctuates a lot for power generation, so he has some basic understanding of what that means. “There probably won’t be a lot of grass- if any – it’s probably a rocky lake,” he said. “I expect it to have some timber and be fairly clear, but we’ll figure out all of that stuff when we get there.”
Rutland said the 2014 ABT season was a lot of fun to fish, and was very well run. “I really was impressed with how Kay (Donaldson, director of Alabama Bass Trail) and her staff ran everything,” he said. “Everything was well organized, enjoyable, and she has done a great job keeping us informed about what’s going on with the Bassmaster Team Championship. It’s a real pleasure to be representing Alabama Bass Trail at the Team Championship because it is a well run organization, and I hope to be able to represent them at the Bassmaster Classic as well.”
The Bassmaster Team Championship will be held from December 9 – December 13, 2014, on DeGray Lake outside Bismarck, Ark. Follow the Alabama Bass Trail anglers who have qualified to compete at www.bassmaster.com, and sign up to fish the Alabama Bass Trail next year for your chance to win cash and great prizes, qualify for the ABT Championship and have a chance to fish the Bassmaster Classic Championship.
The sponsors of the 2014 Alabama Bass Trail include Bill Penney Toyota; the Alabama Tourism Department; Phoenix Bass Boats, Inc.; McDonalds of Alabama; and Pradco-FISHING representing BOOYAH and YUM; Dobyns Rods; Randy Jones Agency – Nationwide; T-H Marine Supplies, Inc.; Alabama Power Company; Buffalo Rock, Inc.; Jet-Pep, Inc.; Tennessee Valley Authority; Rigid Industries, Inc.; Frogg Toggs, Inc.; Go Pro; Gander Mountain; HydroWave™; Garmin; and Yeti Coolers.