Arkansas Wins Team B.A.S.S. Nation Title on Lake Guntersville

Arkansas scored a big win as its team overcame a 30-pound deficit to win the state bass fishing title on Lake Guntersville at the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors.

Arkansas’ 20 anglers collectively caught 363 pounds, 4 ounces to beat Day 1 leader Indiana by a margin of 33 pounds. The Hoosiers took second place with 330 pounds, 10 ounces. Wisconsin was third with 313-12 and Alabama weighed 304-6 for fourth place. Louisiana was fifth with 290-2.

“We fished individually to maintain the spirit of the competition but came together as a team when someone needed attention,” said Jim Alexander, Arkansas B.A.S.S. Nation president.

“We kept the competition between us and that made us fish stronger as a team,” added Doug Thompson, currently third place overall in the tournament. However, teammates did offer advice when their fellow anglers’ strategies were not working.

Arkansas won a Triton 189 TrX bass boat, trailer and accessories with a Yamaha VF150LA outboard valued at $37,293.

Nineteen states are competing in the regional tournament. On Day 3, the Top 38 anglers and three highest-ranking boaters and non-boaters from each state compete on Guntersville.

Josh Ray took the overall boater lead with the biggest catch thus far in the tournament. Ray’s five bass weighed 23-3 and put him in the lead by about 2 pounds.

“I caught all of them in about an hour and then left the spot,” said Ray, of Alexander, Ark. “I’m trying to save some for tomorrow.”

On Wednesday, Ray drew a late starting position, which cut into his fishing time. He managed a mediocre catch weighing 13-7, or about 9 pounds out of the lead. By the time he finished out his five-bass limit, it was nearly time to head to the weigh-in.

Today it was his turn to leave early, and that allowed him to arrive sooner in his fishing area. He caught another limit in about an hour.

“I’m trying to get away from the boat pressure,” he admitted. “I have other areas, but I haven’t needed to use those.”

Ray is swimming a leadhead jig on a tapering bottom near the river channel. That’s a common bass fishing strategy on Guntersville following the spawning cycle of largemouth. The bass are moving from shallow to deep water, where they will school along the Tennessee River over summer.

Ray is tapping into a migration route that funnels the bass along his chosen fishing area. While Ray disclosed the lure he understandably withheld other details of the presentation and specifics of the area.

To be determined is the overall winner and qualifiers to bass fishing’s world championship. That event is the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors. The top boater and non-boater from each state advances to bass club fishing’s championship competition.

The Livingston Lure Leader Award was presented to Ray. He earned the $250 bonus by leading the tournament on Day 2. Justin Harris, the leading non-boater also received a Livingston Lures merchandise package.

Harris, of McPherson, Kan., continues leading the non-boater division with 23 pounds, 11 ounces.

Big bass of the day honors go to Ted Heitschmidt of Tomahawk, Wis. He caught a largemouth weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces.

The tournament begins at 6 a.m. CT with boats returning in staggered flight times beginning at 2:15 p.m. Tournament launch and weigh-in will be held at Guntersville City Harbor.