Alabama Bass Trail Division Champs Stephen Mcavoy and Josh Butts
By Jason Duran
October 23 Wetumpka, Ala- The Alabama Bass Trail concluded the 2022 season with a two-day no entry fee tournament for the best 75 teams in the north and south divisions. The city of Wetumpka, Alabama was the host, and Lake Jordan was the site where anglers fished for a total purse of $100,000. The team of Stephen Mcavoy and Josh Butts faced the toughest competition of the Alabama Bass Trail and finished at the top claiming a $50,000 payday.
Lake Jordan is a popular lake with an abundance of large mouth and spotted bass. Anglers reported that during practice, the fish were scattered and chasing bait to feed up for the winter. Typically, tournaments at Lake Jordan are dependent on the Alabama Power generation schedule that produces a strong current flow that spotted bass seem to enjoy feeding in. Anglers also find the lake provides a variety of structure and water depths allowing anglers to fish their strengths and produce good quality limits on tournament day.
The first-place team of Stephen Mcavoy and Josh Butts are North Division anglers who have done well making a name for themselves on the Alabama Bass Trail. Previous finishes include a win at Lake Guntersville in 2021 and second-place at Weiss Lake 2020. This win makes them one of the best teams the Southeast because they matched up against the best of the best in the ABT and came out on top. At the end of day, they found themselves in seventh place weighing in 11.68 pounds. On day two, they increased their weight and weighed in 14.03 pounds for a total of 25.71.
The pattern for them both days was to target fish on the main river using the Garmin Live Scope to find big schools of spotted bass that were actively chasing bait. Stephen and Josh located these fish in practice by spending lots of time watching the graph looking for schools of fish finding a couple of areas they felt were holding fish well. Their main area was upriver with a long, stump row in the main river channel. “Normally, you would think the fish would be in the stumps where you would have to fish for them in the stumps. We saw other teams trying to catch them that way, but they were unsuccessful.” The team targeted these school of fish with a much different approach working the areas holding fish by simply scanning around using the Garmin Live Scope and waiting to cast until they found the fish. They primally used two baits: a Duo Realis Spinbait 90 Model in shad colors and a Damiki Rig with various style ball jig heads and shad style soft plastics. During the two days, they caught over one hundred fish and doubled up multiple times throughout the day on the monster schools of spotted bass. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the fishing got better because it bought the bait higher in the water column. The schools they located had hundreds of fish in them. They fished often in the middle of the river chasing these schools. Stephen and Josh took home $50,000 from the ABT plus almost $10,000 in contingency bonuses for a total pay day close to $60k. They were extremely happy and “honored to get this win against such a great field of anglers.”
Second place went to the team of brothers, Noah and Cole Godwin. This team has fast become one of the most popular teams on the ABT. They have back-to-back wins on Lake Jordan and Lay Lake in 2020, and in 2022 they placed second on Lake Eufaula and third on Lay Lake. They took the lead in this event on day one by weighing in 13.44 pounds. They, too, found the pattern of chasing the schools using Garmin Live Scope. They caught a couple fish on day one out of a brush pile, but the rest of the time they spent chasing the schools of spotted bass on the main river. For them, “the fish were way off the bank and hard to find, but once you find them, there are large schools grouped up together in one area. We caught our fish in 20-25 feet of water using a Big Bites Suicide Shad Swimbait, a Duo Realis Jerkbait, and a Damiki Rig all in shad colors.” They weighed in a two-day total of 25.46 pounds. It was a close finish, but they fell a little bit short. They had a fish on that may have helped them make up the difference, but it got off. It was a tough second place after leading on day one. They collected $10,000 to add to their previous well-earned winnings on the ABT.
Brad Shelton and Eric White whose home lake is Wheeler Lake finished the day in third place. They have previous success in the ABT Championship with a second place on Neely Henry in 2018. On day one of this event, they made a run north towards the dam and fished for spotted bass in the current. They caught what they felt was a solid limit and left that area around 11am to look for other areas that could possibly help increase their weight. They headed down river and found what the other top teams also found. The big schools of spotted bass grouped up chasing bait in the middle of the river. Their day one wight was 12.00 pounds. On day two, they began where ended day one, fishing for the spotted bass schools in the river. They expected the current to start around 11am and planned to fish schools until then. They have never been to Lake Jordan, so they expected it would take 16 pounds to lead each day. They targeted fish using a Lucky Craft LV 500 in shad pattern finding the fish using only side scan. Brad and Eric felt like having Live Scope would have given them more of an advantage. They followed the bait fish the best they could each day and found that later in the day the fishing was also very productive for them. They were really surprised that the fish were not in the grass here but instead offshore in abundance. Their total weight was 24.15. For the third place they collected a $5,000 check.
The top five standings are below for a complete list of standings please visit:
Download and listen to the ABT Podcast on your favorite Podcast app by searching for “Alabama Bass Trail Podcast.” The Podcast is released each week on Tuesday.
The sponsors of the 2022 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports,
Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, American Trailer Rental Group,
BAJIO, Berkley, Big Bite Baits, Bill Penney Automotive, Black Rifle Coffee Company,
Buck N’ Bass, Anheuser – Bush, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com,
Garmin, Jack’s, Lew’s, Mtn Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Power-
Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, T-H Marine, Wedowee Marine, Yamaha, YETI