Lewis Smith Lake Preview with Lanny Guthrie and Chuck Hinton
By Jason Duran
The Alabama Bass Trail North Division is ready to crown another Angler of the Year! Due to COVID conditions, anglers have been forced to wait a little longer this year as a few events were rescheduled. The time is finally here, and Lewis Smith Lake is the location where another team will come out on top with $10,000 first place prize and the points race will determine who takes home AOY.
The team of Lanny Guthrie and Chuck Hinton are currently sitting in 5th place in points and have their eyes set on being one of the top 9 teams to qualify for the BASS Team Championship. They feel like this is a goal within their reach. Lanny qualified two years ago and is itching to get back. The team has fished the ABT together for two years and said they have “had a solid year of fishing” and are hoping to build on that this weekend.
Lewis Smith Lake is a deep clear water lake with lots of spotted bass that love to feed on Blueback herring. Recently, there have been a few good largemouth caught close to 6lbs. The lake is loaded with docks and plenty of highland shoreline. Smith Lake does have a slot limit between 13-15 inches in length, and it is illegal to possess a black bass that measures in the slot.
Lanny said conditions have really been tough lately. “The water is dropping about a foot a week, and with the blueback in the lake, the fish aren’t really relating to structure but are kind of suspended out in the middle which makes them really tough to catch.”
The team said they fish Smith Lake often this time of year and a few things are different this time of year. Boat traffic could be an issue this weekend, but they hope that “after the Labor Day weekend, the big boats will be put up… but that’s probably not the case, and everyone will have to be careful.” The falling water also plays a factor and will cause fish to move around a little more.
Smith Lake dam offers a starting point on the lake where anglers will have to make a quick decision at blast off as to whether to go left or right. Chuck said he “thinks you can put them both in a hat, pull one out and whichever way it tells you to go, you go because the lake is fishing that tough right now on both ends.”
The team shared that they feel the “deep pattern will play a major factor in this event. Guys who are really good with their electronics will shine in this one because they can target individual fish out swimming around, and when they spot them on the graph, they can drop down on them.”
Lanny and Chuck said the key baits will be small swimbaits, drop shots, and mostly deep, clear water presentations. They shared “some anglers will get confused at Smith Lake when they see fish way out in the middle of the lake and wonder why the fish are way out, but there really is no other reason than they are chasing blueback.” Figuring out how to catch those suspended fish will be key.
In previous weeks the local events have taken about 15lbs to win, and Lanny agrees saying he looks for the winning bag to be 15-16lbs. He believes this bag will be anchored with a kicker largemouth. Teams are allowed to weigh-in fish under the slot of 13 inches but Chuck said, “you better have four good ones if you want to weigh-in an under.”
This tournament will continue to operate with social distancing guidelines. All anglers should make sure they have checked text messages and emails for the latest information and changes made to keep everyone as safe as possible during this time. There will be no pre-tournament meeting for this event. There is a virtual meeting on the ABT Facebook Page that was posted this past Tuesday night. All friends and family are welcome to attend this event. Fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and practice social distancing during the weigh-in. Everyone can watch the live weigh-in and live coverage on the ABT Facebook page and the ABT website. The launch and weigh-in location is Lewis Smith Lake Dam located at 7811 Smith Lake Dam Road in Jasper, AL. The first flight is due in at 2:30 and weigh-in begins at 3:00.
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 2020 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, Zone Repellents, T-H Marine Supplies, Wedowee Marine, Strike King, Buffalo Rock, Mountain Dew, Jack’s, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Alabama Power Company, Lew’s Fishing, Berkley, 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.