Wise Moves From Behind to Win at Lake Guntersville
By John N. Felsher
SCOTTSBORO, Ala. -- Catching the largest single day bag and the only sack to exceed 20 pounds in the event, Jesse Wise scored a come-from-behind victory to win the American Bass Anglers Top 150 Solo Series Southeast Division tournament, held April 30-May 1, 2021, at Lake Guntersville.
Running out of Goose Pond Marina in Scottsboro, Ala. to fish the sprawling 75-mile-long Tennessee River impoundment, the Erwin, N.C., angler found schooling fish early. He finished with a perfect two-day tournament limit of 10 bass weighing 38.90 pounds. On the first day, he held sixth place with five bass going 15.70 pounds.
“Late on the last day of practice, I found a school of fish in 14 feet of water,” Wise recalled. “On the first day, I caught about 12 fish in 10 minutes for about 14 pounds. I decided to leave the fish until the next day.”
Wise found those fish again on the last day of the second event in the three-tournament series in the inaugural Southeast Division season. Maybe, the bass found him! Either way, he put enough fish in his boat to win the tournament quickly. He returned to the weigh station with a bulging sack tipping the scales at 23.20 pounds. Beating the nearest competition by nearly four pounds, Wise sealed his come-from-behind victory with a 6.67-pounder, the third largest lunker of the tournament.
“On the final day, the most incredible thing happened,” Wise noted. “The fish came up schooling right under the boat. I started casting a swimbait and they were crushing it. I caught four and it was over in about 10 minutes. When the fish quit biting the swimbait, I threw a jig in the area. The bait never touched the bottom. That’s when my biggest bass hit. It was a dream come true.”
Finishing second among the 107 competitors, Billy J. Hughey from Dalton, Ga., also caught a 10-bass limit for a two-day total of 35.05 pounds. Hughey held third on Day 1 with five bass at 18.60 pounds topped by a 4.38-pound kicker. He added 16.45 pounds on the last day to move up a notch.
“I was throwing a Stanley Ribbit Frog around the grass on both days as my primary bait,” Hughey said. “I didn’t even throw anything else on the final day.”
Day 1 leader, John O. Bailey from Resaca, Ga. dropped to third place with 10 bass and 34.16 pounds. However, he did win the lunker title with a 7.59-pound bucketmouth he caught on the last day. On the first day, he caught five bass for 18.90 pounds with a 4.65-pound kicker, the second largest single-day sack caught in the event.
“Probably about 90 percent of my fish on the first day came on swimbaits,” said the owner of Producer Swimbaits (producerswimbaits.com). “I also caught some bass on topwater baits. I had a limit by 9 a.m. and started culling about 30 minutes later.”
On the second day, Bailey still put in a good effort, landing five bass for 15.26 pounds including the hawg. The water went from muddy on the first day to gin clear on the second day. Bailey had to change his tactics, but he started strong.
“I caught my 7.59-pounder as my first fish,” Bailey commented. “It hit a buzzbait. I thought I was really going to smoke them. The swimbait bite from the first day went away on the second day, but I did catch a lot of fish on topwaters. I threw a frog and a buzzbait around milfoil and other grasses. I had fish on, but I just couldn’t get them in the boat.”
Also from Resaca, Ga., Russell A. Bryant took the fourth slot with a 10-bass limit for 33.69 pounds. He moved up four notches from eighth place on the first day with a five-bass limit going 15.48 pounds. That included 3.56-pounder. On the final day, Bryant upped his catch to five bass weighing 18.21 pounds. He also raised his lunker level to 5.21 pounds.
Taking the fifth position, Randall J. Cnota of Panama City, Fla., also caught his 10-fish tournament limit. He tallied 32.22 pounds. Cnota held 13th place on Day 1 with 14.86 pounds. He increased his catch on Day 2 to 17.36 to move up eight levels.
Landing in sixth place, Benjie W. Allen of hosting Scottsboro, Ala., ended the tournament with a perfect 10-fish limit for 31.60 pounds. He held fourth place on the first day with 17.29 pounds. He dipped two spots on the last day, bringing in 14.31 pounds.
Jesse L. Rigsby of Old Hickory, Tenn. also dropped a couple notches from fifth to seventh with nine bass and 28.48 pounds. He caught a five-bass daily tournament limit on the first day for 16.83 pounds. On Day 2, he found four keepers for 11.65 pounds.
Frederick S. Daughtry of Abbeville, Ala. made one of the most spectacular upward leaps of the tournament to vault 27 places to finish eighth with 10 bass at 27.61 pounds. On the first day, he caught a limit for 12.17 pounds and 35th place. On the final day, he brought another five bass to the scales, but they weighed 15.44 pounds with a 4.76-pound kicker.
Wade Batey of Scottsboro also made a strong showing on the final day to finish ninth with 10 bass to put 27.09 pounds on the board. Batey held 19th place after one day with five bass for 14.24 pounds. He added 12.85 pounds on the last day to move up 10 spots.
Rounding out the Top 10, Jacob T. Castleberry from Cumming, Ga., also caught a two-day limit of 10 bass and ended the event with 26.90 pounds. He held 29th place on Day 1 with 12.88 pounds, but moved up 19 slots on the last day with a 14.02-pound haul.
The Southeast Division anglers end their three-event series and wrap up the entire first season for the ABA Top 150 Solo Series on June 25-26 at Lake Chickamauga. For that final tournament, anglers will run out of the Dayton City Ramp on Lakeshore Drive in Dayton, Tenn.
Up to 150 anglers can compete in any Top 150 Solo Series tournament. If 150 solo anglers participate, the winner will take home a guaranteed $20,000 in cash. If fewer competitors register for an event, the top 20 percent of the field will each earn a portion of the prize money, based upon the number of entries. In addition, the winner of each divisional tournament, plus the top five points earners from each division qualify to fish the 2022 Ray Scott Championship.
For more information about American Bass Anglers visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406. For more information on the ABA Top 150 Solo Series, see www.americanbassanglers.com/Top150.
American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, Triton Boats, Mercury Motors, Motor Guide, Berkley, Abu Garcia, T-H Marine, Power Pole, Garmin, Monster Energy, Lucas Oil, Engel Coolers, OPTIMA Batteries, REKS Sunglasses, and HotelPlanner.com.
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