A lot of people won’t realize the significance of what happened this weekend in the Goose Pond Bait and Tackle parking lot. Prior to Valentines weekend Guntersville Lake was a world class top 5 bass fishery. You didn’t hear about anything except bass fishing, and rightfully so as the lake is a steady stop on the BASS Elites, FLW and a plethora of other very large bass tours. However at 5PM on the 16th of February the City of Scottsboro,AL put Guntersville Lake on the map as a true destination Crappie Lake.
On the 15th and 16th the American Crappie Trail came to town to hold their first qualifier for 2019. Even though most pro tournament anglers knew the lake held some crappies there were some concerns about the overall quality of fish. After all, the lake had never hosted a true Pro event in the past. These concerns were laid to rest at the conclusion of day one.
Day one started warm, overcast, and with rain on the horizon. It was not until lunch when the rumors started about big bags of fish. As the anglers started filtering in those rumors no longer seemed farfetched. The Lucas Oil team of Kent Watson and Drew Morgan, Indiana based anglers, walked on stage and dropped a limit of fish weighing in at a whopping 15.40 pounds. For those not familiar with crappie tournaments a 7 fish limit of 2 pound or better fish is a huge deal. Normally you only see bags like that in the fertile reservoirs of Mississippi. The Indiana boys also weighed a big fish in at 2.59 pounds. That was followed up by local Alabama anglers Johnny Walker and Jeff Ramsey. This duo walked up smiling so we knew it was going to get serious. When the scales locked they read 15.32 pounds. Not enough to unseat the current leaders but a solid second place none the less. After that we saw 6 more teams break the 2-pound average weight barrier. Just when we thought the Lucas oil team had day one locked down the B’n’M/Strike King team of Tim Blackley and Paul Turner strolled on stage with a 15.94-pound 7 fish limit and a 2.55 pound big fish. People were now excited about Lake Guntersville. In fact you could feel the excitement in the air, as well as the rain.
When day 2 arrived the rain had stopped but the temperatures had fallen into the high 30’s, and there was a brisk breeze coming straight out of the north. Even on a lake the quality of Guntersville these weather conditions seemed sure to slow down the bite.
As the day wore on we started hearing about not only big bags but a true elephant of a crappie. As the weigh in progressed we saw bag after bag breaking the 14 pound mark. When it came time for the top 10 to weigh the excitement in the air was enough to make your skin tingle.
The top 10 anglers were a great representation of long time pro fisherman, new faces, and a single young gun of the American Crappie Trail. Drew Morgan, the resident young gun and his partner Kent Watson weighed in a two day total of 28.88-pounds to secure a second place finishand win them a total of 6150-dollars. Day one leaders, the B’n’M team of Tim Blackley and Paul Turner, crossed the stage with a two day total of 27.47-pounds and dropped to 4th place and won 3150-dollars. Then the Husband and wife team of Mike & Deborah Gore weighed a big bag giving them a two day total of 27.96-pounds, enough for a third place finish with 4200-dollars in prize money.
Finally the Team of Johnny Walker and Jeff Ramsey came on stage and stole the show. These local Alabama boys weighed a two day total of 31.67-pounds and a big fish weighing in at 3.19-pounds. That two day total netted them25,930-dollars including the 2019 Ranger RT188C boat.
Crappie tournaments are evolving at a rapid pace, not long ago a good payout for first place would have been 2000-dollars. The sport is growing and the town of Scottsboro hit a home run in being the host of this event.
You can watch the event on The Pursuit Channel, Fox Sports Mid-West and Fox Sports South in the first quarter of 2020.