ydrilla, Milfoil, Heavy Braided Line Key to Catching Lunkers at CITGO Bassmaster Southern Open

What’s at stake:  $322,021 in total prize money, plus 25 berths into the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship. The top five boaters at the Open Championship will earn berths into the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26, on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla.  

The Pros Said It  

“I think most people - myself included - will fish open water on grass mats. Hydrilla and milfoil … most people are going to key on that. That’s just a magnet for bass. This lake is full of fish … past tournaments have shown that. Heavy weights will be caught and it’ll probably take 20 pounds a day or close to it to win.” - Chris Baumgardner, BASS Invitational winner on Lake Guntersville in 1997, 44, Gastonia, N.C.  

“This has probably been as tough a practice as I’ve ever had on this lake. September is the toughest month to catch fish. The grass looks good, the water temperature is right around 80 degrees where it should be, but it’s been pretty tough weather with bluebird skies and little wind.” - Chad Brauer, 33, Osage Beach, Mo.  

“So far it looks like it’s going to be a hit-of-miss type of week. You’re going to see some guys catch a few good stringers and some just a few. It’s really feast or famine. If you can get on a school of them, you’ll be set.” - Randy Howell, 31, Springville, Ala.  

“I think you’ll see three patterns: Off of boat docks, throwing rats or frogs in the hydrilla and milfoil and the flipping bite on the edge of the grass. Any pattern can win, but it’s whoever gets on the fish.” - James Horton, 38, Centreville, Ala.  

The Strategy  

Baumgardner: He is fishing mats in water three to five feet deep. He’s throwing top water baits, including buzzbaits and horny toads, around grass edges in the morning. For the afternoon bite, he’s using a flipping rod with a heavy weight and brush hog to punch through the mats.

Brauer: He will spend most of his time flipping a heavy jig with crawfish trailer on braided, 65-pound test line. Brauer said the braided line cuts through the grass better, making it easier to pull out a largemouth.  

Howell: He is looking for the shallow grass bite. He’s using a heavy action Quantum flipping rod with braided line and flipping jigs and casting frogs into sloppy matted grass. He expects this to be the primary pattern most anglers will use to catch bigger fish.  

Horton: He is using 65-pound power pro braided line, flipping a Netbait Paca Craw in water 7 to 9 feet deep of water on the edge of hydrilla and throwing a snag-proof frog in 3 to 4 feet of water under the mats.

Previous BASS events
2005, CITGO Bassmaster Tour
2004, CITGO Bassmaster Tour
2002, CITGO Bassmaster Tour
1997, BASS Invitational
1992, Bassmaster Megabucks
1992, BASS Invitational
1991, BASS Invitational
1990, BASS Megabucks
1990, BASS Invitational
1989, BASS Invitational
1988, BASS Invitational
1987, BASS Invitational
1980, BASS Champs Invitational
1976, CITGO Bassmaster Classic

Previous winners on lake
87-0, Zell Rowland, 2005
99-10, George Cochran, 2004
83-11, Kelly Jordon, 2002
52-6, Chris Baumgardner, 1997
79-11, Denny Brauer, 1992
55-1, George Cochran, 1992
55-10, Zell Rowland, 1991
30-6, Larry Nixon, 1990
71-0, Edward Gettys, 1990
60-7, Robert Byrd, 1989
47-5, Don Snider, 1988
42-6, Rick Clunn, 1987
53-10, Basil Bacon, 1980
59-15, Rick Clunn, 1976

Heaviest winning sack
99-10, George Cochran, 2004

Lowest winning sack
30-6, Larry Nixon, 1990

 92 degrees

Lake level
558.14 above mean sea level

    CITGO Southern Open Boater Points Leaders  

1.    Mark Menendez           Ky.         310
2.    Scott Rook              Ark.        295
3.    Kevin Langill           N.C.        290
4.    Guy Eaker               N.C.        285
5.    Michael Johnson         Ga.         280
6.    Nicholas Turner         Ala.        276
7.    Eric Nethery            Ga.         272
8.    Todd Auten              S.C.        268
9.    Brent Broderick         Ohio        264
10.   Chuck Thurlow           Ala.        260  

CITGO Bassmaster Open
Central Open Division
May 5-7           Sam Rayburn             Jasper, Texas
Sept. 29-Oct. 1   Lake Norfork            Mountain Home, Ark.
Nov. 10-12        Red River               Natchitoches, La.  

Northern Open Division
July 14-16        Lake Erie               Sandusky, Ohio
Aug. 11-13        Lake Champlain          Plattsburgh, NY.
Sept. 15-17       Oneida Lake             Syracuse, NY      

Southern Open Division
June 23-25        West Point Lake         Lanett, Ala.
Sept. 22-24       Lake Guntersville       Guntersville, Ala.
Oct. 27-29        Lake Tohopekliga        Kissimmee, Fla.  

Western Open Division
May 26-28         California Delta WaterwayBethel Island, Calif.
Oct. 13-15        Clear Lake              Lakeport, Calif.
Nov. 17-19        Lake Shasta             Shasta Lake, Calif.  

Local sponsors: Local sponsors include the city of Guntersville, the Guntersville Chamber of Commerce and Guntersville State Park.  

Bassmaster Open Series sponsors: CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).  

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.  

  BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla. 

  For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.