Swindle Expects the Stars to Line Up at Guntersville

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

By Pete Robbins

In a world full of “you should have been here yesterdays,” Gerald Swindle is betting that conditions are lining up for a perfect storm of fishing excellence when the Big Bass Tour descends on Lake Guntersville October 11 through 13. The big Alabama impoundment always provides a slugfest filled with strategy, as the decision whether to weigh in a quality fish during a particular hour can be a make-or-break proposition. He expects the flood of big bass to be virtually non-stop.

“I spent a lot of time out there in September, when it was very hot and the water is very clear,” he said. “We have more grass than we’ve ever had, and it hasn’t died off as much as it usually does by this point. By the time the tournament comes, it’s just going to be getting right.”

He added that this tournament has the potential to produce “the highest overall hourly weights we’ve every seen if things turn loose.”

That’s saying a lot, because Guntersville just about ALWAYS produces. It always takes at least a 6-pounder to squeeze into the top ten for the entire event, usually much more. Last year there was an 8.14 weighed in, along with a pair over 7. In 2017, there were six fish over 7 pounds, and 15 more over 6. It took 6.70 to crack the overall top 10. In 2016, there were two over eight, four over 7, and 6.72 was 10th overall, you might think those big weights might be primarily attributable to that year’s tournament being in the spring, but look back to 2015 and you’ll learn differently. That October the winning fish was weighed 9.42, eclipsing an 8.27 whose owner must’ve been mighty disappointed. There were five additional fish over 7 pounds.

Swindle said that an angler might be able to get on a decent topwater bite, particularly with a buzzbait, but in some respects that’s a trap. “They’ll draw you in, but it’ll be tough to cash a check with one of them,” he cautioned. Instead, he’d focus on one of three tactics.

The first would be a hollow-bodied frog, in particular the Terminator Frog which has a soft body to maximize hookups.

“It’s a little bit smaller than some of the other frogs on the market, but it throws just as good.”

The second technique would be to flip a black/blue or green pumpkin Zoom Z-Craw or Z-Craw Jr. on the plentiful grass lines from the B.B. Comer Bridge down to South Sauty Creek. He might dip the tails of his soft plastics in chartreuse dye if he noticed a lot of bluegills around.

“There’s a lot of bait in that area,” he said. “They’re also getting enough current flow now to turn the bite on.”

His third plan of attack would be to throw either a Rapala square bill or a chatterbait on the outside edges of the submerged hydrilla and milfoil. “The eel grass is strong out there,” he said, noting that he’d look to grass lines close to summertime bass haunts. They haven’t moved far, but the exodus is starting. He might also throw a swimbait like a Zoom Hollow Belly in those same spots.

His strategy would be to commit to an area and to a primary technique.

“It’s not going to be fast and furious,” he said. “You can’t run back and forth in between the three techniques and be as productive. If somebody signed me up, I’d have two flipping sticks and a frog. I’d be committed to that, punching my way down the grass and then throwing the frog when I see a blowup or other activity.”