2019 Alabama Bass Trail Smith Lake Preview
with Mark McCaig and Tim Hurst
by Dan O’Sullivan
February 20, 2019 – Decatur, Ala. – Lewis Smith Lake has long been a staple stop on the Alabama Bass Trail’s Northern Division schedule. In the inaugural season, Smith Lake served as the site of the first ABT Championship, and when you factor the first ABT Open event last year, Smith Lake has been on the schedule every year the trail has been in operation.
In 201, as it is this year, Smith Lake served as the opening event, and the team of Mark McCaig and Tim Hurst took home the win with 22.67 pounds. While the mid-February time frame is the same as this year; that was then, and this is now. In 2016, the weather was fairly stable and warm, but in 2019, the weather for this week is expected to be warm, but the area will be buffeted by heavy rains all week – including tournament day on Saturday.
McCaig and Hurst said that they expect the traditional Smith Lake type techniques to come into play. “Even with the rains, the bite will probably feature a lot of Shaky Heads, swimbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits,” they said. “With the lake being full of spotted bass, they will likely be moving around a bunch and having a few things at the ready will make it easier to capitalize on opportunity.”
The pair said weights could be really good, or the rain could make the fishing tough. “We expect that the winning weights could be anywhere from 16 to 21 pounds, but all of that depends on how the fish, and the bait responds to the vast influx of water,” they said. “The running water from the drains or even the higher flows from the headwaters could draw the fish there, but if the water down lake stays fairly clear, the traditional approaches will still be the main ones.”
While those types of presentations are common wisdom on Smith Lake, conventional wisdom must be thrown out because the weather conditions are going to cause the fishing to change. “There are still a lot of things to figure out, even though we’ve practiced and have experience at Smith Lake,” they said. “With all of this rain, I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly how things are going to go; we’ll all have to find out, it’s going to be a unique event.”
The 2019 Alabama Bass Trail Northern Division Opener takes place at Lewis Smith lake at the Dam Launch Ramp February 23 out of Jasper, Ala. The mandatory pre-tournament registration and angler information meeting happens on Friday February 23 at CHS Building located at 201 19th Street E, Jasper, AL 35501 at 4:00 P.M. – 6:30 P.M. and the mandatory pre-tournament meeting beginning at 6:30 P.M. Takeoff and weigh-in will occur at Smith Lake Dam 7811 Smith Lake Dam Road Jasper, AL 35054 on Sunday, February 24.
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.