Tournament Series Feature Story
Lake Martin preview with Mark McCaig and Tim Hurst
By Jason Duran
February 18- Alabama Bass Trail kicks off its 7th season Saturday when the South Division returns to Lake Martin. 225 Teams will fish for the $47,000 total purse including a $10,000 first place payout. Anglers fishing the ABT have come to learn the changing weather patterns when the trail comes to town. Teams will once again face difficult weather conditions as nighttime temps dip below freezing. The team of Mark McCaig and Tim Hurst believe “spotted bass don’t care how cold it is; you just got to find them, and they are going to bite”.
From the start of official practice on Thursday through tournament morning, anglers can expect a strong winter-time pattern to be in play. The conditions of rain, colder temps and possible sleet and snow during practice days are much different than a week ago when Mark caught 14.32 to win a local event. Mark noted, “the water temps last weekend were around 50-55; this week they are in the 48-50 range.” Water levels continue to remain at winter pool 7 feet or so below normal, and the fish continue to remain offshore in deeper areas of the lake.
Mark thinks this tournament is going to be a “down the lake tournament because of the rain we are getting. A lot of the stuff is going to get muddy and even though guys like dirty water, cold dirty water is not a good combination.” He believes guys will focus on the lower end because “even with all the rain we are going to get, there is still going to be clear water at Lake Martin” on the lower end.
It is well known that a shaky head is very productive on Lake Martin. The team noted that “jigs, crankbaits, jerkbaits and other normal winter time stuff will be very productive.” They also said they “wouldn’t rule out someone being able to catch them on a drop shot and a Nedrig because those have been two very popular baits that have really come on strong in recent years.”
Mark caught fish on a Jig and crankbait last weekend where he targeted fish in the 8-15 feet range saying he “went down the lake about 5 miles and up the lake about 2 miles.” This week, they feel it will take around 16 pounds to win and probably around 11 pounds to get a check.
Mark said, “fishing Lake Martin is kind of like fishing a big fish tournament: everyone is gonna catch keepers, and most likely the key will be catching that five pounder to be able to get to that 15-16 pound limit.” It is one of his “favorite places to go fishing when it’s tough because you can always catch fish there.” Tim said, “when he was growing up about the only place to catch a bass when it got cold was Lake Martin. If it’s got anything, it’s one of the best winter time lakes in Alabama even though the fish aren’t giants.”
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 was a virtual meeting posted on the ABT Facebook Page this past Monday night. Pre-tournament check-in will be at the Betty Carol Graham Center on the campus of Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City. The address is 1675 Cherokee Road Check-in begins at 3:30 P.M. Please adhere to social distancing guidelines.
All friends and family are welcome to attend this event; bring lawn chairs and practice social distancing. Everyone can watch the live weigh-in and over 4 hours of on the water live coverage on the ABT Facebook page and the ABT website. The Launch and weigh in will be held at Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City located at 4325 AL-128.
The sponsors of the 2021 Alabama Bass Trail include; Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports, Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Berkley, Big Bite Baits, Bill Penney Automotive, Black Rifle Coffee Company, Buck N’ Bass, Anheuser – Busch, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Garmin, Hydrowave, Jack’s, Lew’s, Mtn Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Power-Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, T-H Marine, Wedowee Marine, YETI Coolers.