A mechanical breakdown lead to a trip to the Bassmaster Classic for Ryan McMurtury, winner of the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, operated by American Bass Anglers, National Championship tournament.
The 43-year-old angler from Abbeville, S.C., fished one spot for four days, catching 165 bass. He finished with 20 bass going 69.53 pounds with a 5.20-pound kicker. Although the weather grew steadily worse and colder after a winter front passed through Guntersville, Ala., McMurtury’s catch increased each day. On the first day, he landed 14.61 pounds and followed that with 17.77 pounds. On Day 3, he moved into second place with a 19.05-pound effort. He ended the event on a clear, windy and cold Nov. 6 with 18.10 pounds.
“My boat broke down in practice, so I had to go home and get my smaller backup boat,” McMurtury said. “I feel that had I been able to use my big boat in pre-fishing, I would have fished more areas and not stayed where I did. In the tournament, I stayed in one spot for four days and never left it. I used a double rig fluke with exposed hooks. When one fish hit, I just held it down until another one hit. I caught fewer fish each day, but more weight.”
For the win, McMurtury collected $100,000, plus a $10,000 bonus from Federated Auto Parts. He also qualified to fish the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, slated for Feb. 18-20, in New Orleans.
“Fishing is like playing golf,” McMurtury said. “You compete against yourself. I know the pros at the Classic are going to catch fish. They are the best anglers in the world. All I can do is try to find bass. In this tournament, I got lucky and stumbled upon fish. I’m just going to do the best I can in the Classic. It’s not me against the pros. It’s me against the fish.”
Dennis McGouirk, 35, of Carrolton, Ga., took home $50,000 as the Co-Angler Division champion. He caught 11 bass for 41.76 pounds with a 7.19-pound kicker. In the first two days, he landed weights of 6.58 and 15.75 pounds. He took the lead on Day 3 with 10.70 pounds and finished with 8.73 pounds. “On the first day, we headed up the lake and fished shallow grass. I was throwing a swimbait,” McGouirk said. “On the second day, we went down the lake. I couldn’t get the swimbait bite to happen, but I got some good fish on a frog. I also caught a good one flipping a grass mat. On the third day, we fished up the lake and I caught them on a swimbait again. On the final day, we found some schooling fish. I caught one on a swimbait and one on a Rat-L-Trap, but couldn’t get the third one.”
Running out of Guntersville State Park, anglers could fish anywhere in the 69,100-acre Lake Guntersville on the Tennessee River. The top 400 weekend anglers from more than 40 states competed in two divisions. Only the top 25 anglers in each division competed on the final day of the four-day event. Brent Anderson, 34, of Kingston Springs, Tenn., took second in the Boater Division, pocketing $30,000 and a hefty bonus from Mercury Outboards. He finished with four consecutive five-bass daily division limits for 67.16 pounds. He caught 14.07 pounds the first day and 16.45 pounds the second day. He held third after Day 3 with an 18.18-pound catch, concluding with 18.46 pounds.
“I was able to find five schools of fish in practice,” Anderson said. “I caught them on a white Strike King swimming jig with a pearl Rage Craw trailer. On the first day, I caught 14 pounds by 9 a.m. and found the school of fish I caught during the last two days. On the last two days, I fished a secondary ledge in eight to 12 feet of water with a 3/4-ounce black and blue football jig. I had a couple shallow areas where I could catch a fish on a jig.”
After holding the lead for three days, Ralph Steve DeBord of Martinez, Ga., dropped to third place with 20 bass going 64.70 pounds with one 5.77-pounder. On Day 1, he caught 22.48 pounds and added 16.08 pounds on Day 2. He caught 14.98 pounds on Day 3 and finished with 11.16 pounds. Brandon Gray of Bullock, N.C., moved up one place to finish fourth. He caught 20 bass weighing 62.09 pounds. He caught 14.81 pounds on Day 1, 15.09 pounds on Day 2, 15.92 pounds on Day 3 and 16.27 pounds on the last day.
Dustin Willis Evans of Eads, Tenn., rounded out the top five boaters with 19 bass going 61.86 pounds. He landed weights of 16.61, 14.36, 14.10 and 16.79 pounds. Robbie Pelt of Montgomery, Ala., landed the biggest bass in the Boater Division, a 7.74-pounder that hit a jig off a wind-blown point. Also in the Co-Anglers Division, Richard Peek of Centre, Ala., finished second with four consecutive three-bass division limits for a total of 36.28 pounds. On Day 1, he caught 10.07 pounds and followed that with 10.02 pounds. He caught 7.64 pounds on Day 3 and finished with 8.55 pounds.
Marty Colley of Ashville, Ala., moved up one into third place with 11 bass weighing 31.29 pounds. He caught 10.41 pounds the first day, 5.84 pounds the second day, 8.23 pounds the third day and finished with 6.81 pounds.
Bradley Dortch of Celebration, Fla., also moved up one place to fourth with 11 bass weighing 30.65 pounds. He landed 7.67 pounds on Day 1, 8.72 pounds on Day 2, 7.25 pounds on Day 3 and 7.01 pounds on the final day.
In fifth, Duanne McQueen of Stockbridge, Ga., finished with nine bass going 30.27 pounds with one 4.48-pound kicker. He caught weights of 4.48, 10.81, 4.68 and 10.30 pounds. Co-angler Ronnie Stiek of Skiatook, Okla., took lunker honors with an 8.05-pounder that hit a peanut butter and jelly jig with a craw in about 20 feet of water.
For more information on this tournament, call (888) 203-6222. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com. Complete Results PDF
About American Bass Anglers: The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series provides weekend anglers a professionally operated competitive tour with a path the world championship of bass fishing the Bassmaster Classic. American Bass Anglers commitment is to provide low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers and the American Fishing Tour, The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, The American 150 Series or the American Couples Series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.