Swindle calling for a Big G Showdown

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Swindle calling for a Big G Showdown

By Pete Robbins

Two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle could live on the lake of his choice, anywhere from coast to coast, so it’s telling that he chooses to call Lake Guntersville home. While there are multiple fantastic fisheries on the Tennessee River chain, none has been so productive for so long as the “Big G.” It’s known as a place to catch monstrous bags in the spring, but under the current conditions Swindle believes that October is prime time.

“It’s been extremely hot through September,” he said. “But the big ones start to show up as the water cools down.”

That’s a fact that’s borne out by past Big Bass Tour events held here in October, and as the BBT returns for a third time, Swindle expects a handful of fat, healthy 8- and 9-pounders to come to the scales. Last year, there were four fish over 7 pounds weighed in and it took 6.70 pounds to squeak into the top ten overall. The smallest top hourly fish weighed 6.01. It was even tougher to ascend the ranks in 2015, when a 9.42 pound behemoth claimed top honors, and was closely trailed by an 8-plus along with five more over 7 pounds. The top ten was closed out with a 6.45 pound largemouth that would be the pride of many tournament catches. On the flip side, that year savvy viewers of the live leaderboard were able to take advantage of disparities between hourly catches, with one hourly top prize falling to a 4.96 pound bass.

Swindle would encourage anglers who want consistent action, and the chance at a big fish, to stay up on the surface around Guntersville’s lush beds of milfoil. A buzzbait or a frog are top choices, depending on the thickness of the vegetation.

“I like a brown or black frog, like the SPRO,” he said. “But at this time of year I don’t throw a popping frog all that much. I’d also throw a Whopper Plopper if the wind plays a factor. I’d start with white early in the day and then something in a shad pattern as the day went on.”

With miles of lush grasslines to choose from, it can be tough to settle into a particular stretch, but Swindle said he’d leave any area that doesn’t have life in it. “You should be hearing brim and shad popping around you,” he explained, and many times the fish will give themselves away by chasing bait ferociously across the surface. The fish don’t necessarily gang up by size, so if you’re catching wads of 2- and 3-pounders, he’d suggest that you stay put. “In fall, if I’m catching numbers, I’ll take my chances.”

While the grass is always a safe bet for Guntersville fast-growing bass, he might also look just outside of it, for hard spots like shell bars and stumps, where bass are retracing the routes that they traveled out in the spring, just in reverse.

“You could do really well with a ½ ounce Buckeye Ballin’ Out jig on those staging areas,” he explained. “We haven’t had a lot of rain, so I’d use subtle colors from green pumpkin to brown. It’s an offshore bite, but we’re not talking 20 to 30 feet, more like 7 or 8 feet. I’d also have a Rapala DT10 tied on out there.”

For both the grass bite and the “staging” bite he’d focus on the portion of the lake in the vicinity of North and South Sauty Creeks.

For anglers who can’t get into the grass groove, but don’t want to chase the offshore bite, Swindle suggests one more “oddball” pattern: shallow water docks at the lower end of the lake: “You’re not going to catch as many fish, but if you skip a 3/8 ounce brown Ballin’ Out jig in front of them with a Zoom Twin Tail trailer on it, they can be very easy to catch in that shallow, clear water. They’re not getting any pressure right now, and a big 8- or 9-pounder just might pull up at the right time.”