B.A.S.S. Nation will kick off new format on Alabama’s historic Lake Eufaula

Nation anglers will look to tame some of the moodiest bass in the Chattahoochee River when they arrive for the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier at Lake Eufaula presented by Lowrance on Wednesday.

Competition days will be Feb. 7-9 with daily takeoffs set for 6:30 a.m. CT from Lakepoint State Park and weigh-ins each day back at the park at 2:30 p.m.

“The bass in Eufaula are kind of weird, and a cold front can really affect them,” said Tackle Warehouse Bassmaster Elite Qualifier competitor Connor Jacob of Auburn, Ala. “The bass will do that from day to day, even. In the summer, I was trying to do some of the classic patterns. You’ll find the groups of fish, and some days it is ridiculous. You’ll catch a ton of fish. Then the next day you’ll catch two fish. They are really moody in Eufaula.”

This tournament kicks off a new format for the Nation Series. As long as they are a B.A.S.S. member and a Nation member, all anglers will be eligible to fish the new Nation Qualifier format. The top finishers from each event will advance to the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Lowrance later in the year.

The Chattahoochee River impoundment has long been a premier destination for big-time tournaments, and the results have been impressive in recent years. Most recently, Justin Barnes won an Open last March with a two-day total of 48 pounds, 9 ounces during a tournament where it took more than 30 pounds just to earn a check.

Generally, in early February, the bass in Lake Eufaula are in a late-winter, early-spring mode. Both largemouth and spotted bass inhabit the fishery.

“The fish are going to be fat. But it’s weird out there,” Jacob said. “They seem like Northern-strain bass. You’ll catch one with a mouth that is tiny, but it weighs 2 1/2 pounds. So, the weights should be up, and I think they will be grouped up.”

While there is a ton of water to cover, Jacob predicts the mid- to lower lake will provide the most productive waters.

The weather can swing wildly, from cold to unseasonably warm and back to cold. Jacob said that in recent years, the lake levels have been adjusted more variably as well, making it a little difficult to decipher the lake from day to day. Water clarity can also change if a big storm rolls through.

“There used to be submerged grass offshore on the flats, but it has become more of a brushpile lake,” he said. “They used to hold the water consistently at full pool, and because of that it was a good shallow-vegetation lake.”

This time of year, the offshore bite will get a lot of attention and is often a more consistent way to get a bite. In the absence of grass, the bass gravitate to brushpiles.

“The flats up the lake are around 5 to 7 feet deep, and when they drop the water it really affects the fish,” Jacob said. “But down the lake when you have more of the 15-foot flats there are plenty of brushpiles, and those bass will stay a little more consistent.”

Crankbaits, jigs and drop shots will likely be key baits in this event, as well as forward-facing sonar presentations like swimbaits for anglers who chase bass underneath bait balls. Jerkbaits can come into play as well if the water is clear.

This event is being hosted by Eufaula-Barbour County Chamber of Commerce.