Rob Lee and Steve Winslett win ABT Lake Martin with 16.06
By Jason Duran
The 10th season of the Alabama Bass Trail began for the South Division on Lake Martin hosted by Lake Martin Tourism Association. Launch and weigh-in for this event was held at Wind Creek State Park. Lake Martin is well known as a lake where you can catch a lot of fish. This lake has an abundance of largemouth and spotted bass. In this event, 221 teams weighed in a limit. Rob Lee and Steve Winslett rose above the pack and caught 16.06 of Lake Martin bass to finish first and win $10,000.
Rob Lee and Steve Winslett are no strangers to the ABT leaderboard. They won the first event in 2022 on Logan Martin Lake and spent the rest of the year in the top of the AOY standings. They have had 3 wins including a win at Lake Martin. They started practice on Wednesday in separate boats wanting to “fish for the bigger fish, and on our first stop, Rob caught a 3 pounder that dictated what we needed to do the rest of the day. We both talked about it and decided we were not going to go spotted bass fishing. Instead we were going to stay shallow to try and get a big bag today. It worked out today. The fish are changing so much right now; they weren’t everywhere, just certain places. They bit one way yesterday and totally different today. You have to keep a fresh mind, stay confident, and trust your partner. That’s why we really work well together because we trust each other. Today we caught fish that each of us found separately in practice. We fished from Hwy 280 to the back of Blue Creek and every pocket in between. We targeted fish running irregularities on the bank. We used a a Jig with Zoom chuck we Steve used a black and blue with a brown chunk and Rob used a brown jig with a green Pumpkin chunk. The key was imitating crawfish and skipping the jig. We are pretty hard headed to how we fish and sometimes it pays off.”
Gentry Gordy and Hunter Farish caught 14.21 pounds and won $5,000 to take second place. “We spent half a day in practice. Gentry just picked up his new boat on Thursday and came to practice on Friday. After the fog lifted, we broke the boat in and spent some time looking around a little. We came here over the winter and found where the fish were setting up, so we knew where they should be headed. The game plan this morning was to head to the Blue Creek area and to throw a brim-colored Dirty Jigs Swim jig with a Big Bite Pro Swimmer trailer in tilapia magic. We fished around rocks drops. We knew with the weather warming up and the sun coming out we needed to go check the back of some of these pockets. The swim Jig played out ok, but we mixed it up with holding a YUM Dinger in green pumpkin and a 1/32 oz weight. We fished it off shallow banks around docks, blow downs or some other shallow structure. We cast it out and held it in the structure- if you aren’t getting hung up, you aren’t fishing is slow enough. The big fish of the tournament weighted 5.78 pounds came on a black Spro Poppin Frog. It takes a kicker fish here to do well in a tournament, and we kept them honest all day by throwing the Spro Frog around the shallow areas. This is our best finish ever in the ABT and a goal for us is AOY.”
The third-place team of Jacob George and Ryan Sweeney shared, “practice was rough for us. I don’t know if we had any good days in practice. We had one good day back in January over a month and a half ago, but there has been big change since January. The plan this morning was to start on a ditch we found in practice. The ditch was in the back of a pocket, and we figured maybe some fish would be sitting in them. We only caught one small keeper there on a Strike King Red Eye Shad Crankbait. We then made the move to the Kowaliga area where we spent the rest of the day. In this area, we targeted fish in shallow water, less than five feet. The fish were around laydowns and docks. Here we slow rolled a War Eagle ½ oz spinnerbait in white or white and chartreuse and a modified Strike King ½ oz spinnerbait with #5 Colorado. We caught 12-15 fish throughout the day.” They weighed in 12.83 pounds and earned a $4,000 pay day.
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The sponsors of the 2023 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, American Trailer Rental Group, BAJIO, Big Bite Baits, Bill Penney Automotive, Black Rifle Coffee Company, Anheuser – Bush, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Garmin, Jack’s, Lew’s, Mountain Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Power-Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, T-H Marine, Yamaha, YETI Coolers.