SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
The Cullman Times
There is no doubt the bass fishing on Lewis Smith Lake is on an upswing, and April always the best time to fish the deep clear lake. This is the one time of year the fish are close to the banks and easy to catch, as they think about spawning.
Thirty-nine anglers turned out for the 4th Top Rod Solo Trail event of the year on April 20-22, launching out of Smith Lake Dam, and most reported catching 20 to 40 fish on the day.
The cold weather that has hung around North Alabama all year showed up again on the first day, with another cold front that dropped the air temps to 42 degrees at takeoff on the 22nd. It became a beautiful sunny day, with temps nearing 70 degrees by the time the tournament ended. Water temps ranged from 62-68 degrees, and the fish were in all stages of the spawn. There were post-spawn and pre-spawn fish weighed in, and sight fishing was a major factor as well.
Rex Chambers of Baileyton almost cracked the 20lb mark to take the win with 19.49lbs, which is a monster bag on Smith Lake. He also had a giant 8.34lb largemouth to take home the Big Fish award. There are four tournaments left in the 2013 Top Rod Season culminating in the season ending championship on Guntersville.
Chambers on a roll
Rex Chambers of Cullman, AL had one great weekend on the water.
After winning a tournament on Wheeler Lake with more than 100 boats two weeks ago, Chambers made it two wins in two days with his first Top Rod victory of the season.
He had an absolute monster largemouth for Smith Lake with an 8.34lber and added a couple of big spots with it for his 19.49 winning weight. He took home $877 for first place, and will also cash in with the Phoenix First Flight program and the T-H Marine Angler Rewards program. He also won $100 for the biggest fish award.
Chambers has fished Smith Lake for many years and he used his experience to blow away a solid field of regular Top Rod anglers and some of Smith Lake’s finest sticks. He was one of the few top finishers that did not target spawning fish. Instead, he caught most of his weigh fish on a black and brown 3/4oz homemade football jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw trailer in brushpiles.
His other fish came on a Bull Shad swimbait. He caught his fish in 10 feet or less using each bait.
Daniel sight fishes his way to 2nd.
There has never been a better Smith Lake bass fisherman than Craig Daniel of Cullman, and there may not be a better sight fisherman anywhere in the country.
Everyone that fishes a tournament on Smith Lake in April knows that Daniel is going to be hard to beat, and he has certainly won his share of Smith Lake derbies.
After winning a team tournament out of Smith Lake Park, Daniel had another solid bag of 15.02lbs to take home $488 for 2nd place. Daniel used his 30 years of experience on Smith Lake to find a mixed bag of spots and largemouths. There aren’t many visible spawners up right now, but Daniel will always find them if they are to be found.
Daniel used a variety of Zoom plastics to catch his spawners, with most falling for a green pumpkin finesse worm on a 1/4oz jighead. He threw it on a spinning rod with 8lb test P-Line flouroclear.
McGinnis also targets spawners.
Young Payton McGinnis of Jasper doesn’t have the experience on the water that many Smith Lake regulars do, but he is becoming a regular top ten performer whenever the Top Rod visits Smith Lake.
He had a solid 14.18lbs of spots and largemouths to take home 3rd place and $292. McGinnis also targeted fish that were spawning with a variety of lures, although he didn’t sight fish for all of them. He was able to catch some on a topwater and a swimbait that he reeled over areas that he thought the fish were on the bed. He also caught some on a shaky head with a Zoom finesse worm.
Hodle catches on his customs
In 4th place was Charlie Hodle of Hartselle with 13.78lbs of spots and largemouths.
He took home $195 for his finish, which he caught on his own jigs and shaky heads. He used several different colors of his jig in 1/4 and 1/2oz with a Strike King Rage chunk trailer in 3-8 feet of water.
Hubbard catches them again
Taking the final check for $97 was another Smith Lake legend, Don Hubbard of Cullman, with 13.53lbs of spots. He and his regular partner are always a force to be reckoned with on Smith Lake with nearly 40 years of experience on the water.
They are at their best in the winter and early spring, and today was another example of that. Hubbard targeted fish in spawning areas, throwing at anything he thought could be a bed. He tossed a shaky head with a Zoom finesse worm and a homemade brown jig to catch his fish.
6th place: Carlton Pitts, Cullman, AL 13.09
7th place: Kyle Miller, Jasper, AL 12.99
8th place: Nick Reeves, Moulton, AL 12.92
9th place: Shane Cole, Empire, AL 12.48
10th place: Jacob Burns, Empire, AL 12.44