Tim Hurst and Mark McCaig Win 2016 Alabama Bass Trail Smith Lake
Northern Division Anglers Overcome Fog Delay to Produce Solid Bags in Season Opener
by Dan O’Sullivan
Jasper, Ala. February 27, 2016 – One consistent rule in bass fishing tournaments is that everything can change at a moment’s notice. When the 2016 Alabama Bass Trail Northern Division opened at Lewis Smith Lake, that law came into play.
After a week of stormy weather that included heavy rains and warm temperatures, conditions turned cold and clear and the result was that the field was greeted with an angler’s worst fear on tournament morning – fog. The result was the first delay in the history of Alabama Bass Trail competition; one that lasted for more than an hour and a half.
Once the sun and a light breeze finally forced the fog to clear, the field of 152 teams ventured out onto the waters of Lewis Smith Lake, and made the best of the situation in a fashion that has become typical of Alabama Bass Trail competitors.
The team that made the best of the situation was the veteran team of Tim Hurst and Mark McCaig. The longtime friends and tournament partners produced a mixed bag of spotted and largemouth bass fish five limit weighing 22.67 pounds to win the Northern Division season opener. The catch also included the Mountain Dew Big Bass, a 7.40-pound largemouth.
The team has experienced success before, having finished second in last year’s ABT Championship at Wheeler Lake. “It’s really fun to be able to go out there and do this with your best friend,” the pair said. “We work really well together, and trust each other’s instincts, and it worked out really well today for us.”
They said they relied on a pattern found by Hurst in practice. “We fish out of separate boats in practice to try and maximize our coverage of the lake,” said McCaig. “Tim (Hurst) found these fish in practice and we decided to go with what he found – it really was an easy decision, and it worked out for us.”
They revolved their day around a small crankbait and a jig Flipped in heavy cover in the Rock Creek arm. “The water was a little bit stained and had some sawdust mats blown into cover,” said Hurst. “We threw a Rapala DT 6 in Demon (Red Craw) color to catch our limit, and Mark (McCaig Flipped his black and blue 1/2-ounce All Terrain Jig with Zoom Super Chunk trailer to the mats when we got to them; that’s how he caught the big one to complete our bag this afternoon.”
The pair took home the $10,000 first place prize, as well as a $500 ABT gear bonus and the $500 Mountain Dew Big Bass bonus.
On the flip side of the veteran team spectrum, former University of Alabama college anglers Matt Carter and Warren Hoffman finished second while fishing their first tournament together as a team. The pair caught a mixed bag limit of their own weighing 20.20 pounds that included a 6.94-pound largemouth kicker.
The team used shallow crankbaits around cover and transition areas to catch their limit. “We power fished all day in Ryan Creek,” they reported. “We caught them on Strike King KVD 1.5 squarebills in Chili Craw and Orange Belly Craw colors. We targeted rocks and trees as well as areas that transitioned from pea gravel to clay.”
The pair earned $5,000 for their efforts and said they enjoyed their first tournament together. “It was a lot of fun, and we worked really well together,” they said. “We’re looking forward to the next one.”
Third place went to the team of Michael Cruce and Delton Gregory who weighed a 19.59- pound limit to earn the $4,000 prize.
The top 10 in the standings are below – the complete standings can be found at: http://dev-alabama-bass-trail.pantheonsite.io/tournament-series/lsl-results/
|Tim Hurst/Mark Mcaig
|Matt Carter/Warren Hoffman
|Michael Cruce/Delton Gregory
|Jesse Wiggins/Jordan Wiggins
|Mark Meyer/Ty Campbell
|Brandon Staggs/Jerry Wright
|Craig Daniel /Chad Nichols
|Steven Wisdom/John Bryant
|Adam Lynch/Mitch Harrison
|Adam Brown/Greg Diggs
The sponsors of the 2016 Alabama Bass Trail include; Bill Penney Toyota, Phoenix Bass Boats, Garmin, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Wind Creek Hospitality – Wetumpka, Wind Creek Hospitality – Montgomery, Alabama Tourism Department, SCA Performance, Mt. Dew, Boat US, T-H Marine Supplies, AllState, TVA, Alabama Power, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Lew’s Fishing, Frogg Toggs, Crossed Industries, Alabama Foundation Specialist, Costa, YETI, Leer, E3
For information about Alabama Bass Trail and for complete tournament standings visit www.alabamabasstrail.org.