If anything is consistent about the Bassmaster Classic, it’s that things are always changing. With a warming trend on the way and heavy rain in the forecast before the tournament Humminbird® and Minn Kota® pros Keith Combs, Matt Herren and Chris Zaldain are fine-tuning their strategies to adapt to dynamic weather and fishing conditions.
The 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk runs March 6-8 on Lake Guntersville near Birmingham, Alabama. The three seasoned pro anglers each have their own history with the lake, which has a well-earned reputation for producing heavy bags of bass. Armed with the most advanced fishing technologies on the water, thanks to Humminbird and Minn Kota and the One-Boat Network®, their plans include using advanced fish-finding and boat control tactics to gain an advantage on the rest of the field.
Minn Kota and Humminbird pro Keith Combs is a big fan of Lake Guntersville and plans to rely heavily on his Minn Kota and Humminbird technology, specifically the MEGA 360 Imaging™.
“Even in tournaments where I haven’t performed as well, I’ve always loved Guntersville,” Combs shared. “I’m even more excited to get on the water for this tournament because this is the first time I’m going to be there equipped with the new Humminbird MEGA 360, which will give me the ability to be much more effective with each cast.”
The Huntington, Texas pro expects this Classic to come down to a handful of casts as anglers work to find and maximize small, isolated pieces of cover to generate the few key bites that will separate them from the rest of the field.
“Guntersville is all about little flurries. If I can make more casts at things like stumps, hard spots, or little areas that are more likely to hold fish, I have an advantage,” Combs shared. “If I catch a good one, you can bet the first thing I’ll do is anchor on that exact spot with my Talons or using Spot-Lock™ on my Minn Kota Ultrex™ trolling motor, to quickly try to replicate that same cast. Turning that one random bite into two or three quality fish is critical and only happens with the right technology on-board.”
Local favorite Matt Herren took advantage of his proximity to the lake by spending seven straight days prior to the tournament studying his electronics and the structure under the waterline.
“The grass changes every year out here. With MEGA Imaging and Lakemaster mapping, I was able to find nooks and crannies that will be important to know about when the tournament comes around.”
Herren spent hours idling over areas, locking in spots that he found likely to be productive, He was quick to point out that Guntersville is a virtual smorgasbord of fish-holding cover, with vegetation ranging from eel grass to milfoil, lily pads and even primrose in the shallows. Add in stumps, shell bars and other cover and identifying these features can be a daunting task but also provides invaluable information.
“I spent time before the tournament looking around, but we’ve had a decent amount of flooding since the last time I was on the water so ultimately I’m going to need to figure things out as the week rolls on,” Herren added. “I know I’m going to be glued to my MEGA 360, using that to look at what’s in front of me, follow grass edges and identify fish and structure that could hold the big ol’ girls we’re looking for.”
Chris Zaldain echoed the strategies of Combs and Herron and also plans to take advantage of Minn Kota and Humminbird technology. Zaldain looks to capitalize on his strong 2019 season with a big Classic pay off.
“Because of the time of year and the heavy rainfall recently, Lakemaster and the Water Level Offset feature are going to be huge. I’ll be focusing primarily on 6-14 foot depths and searching for ledges, mini-ledges and grass with my MEGA 360. You want a solid shallow and deep 1-2 punch that you can switch up depending on conditions.”
For the Texas native, understanding pre-spawn staging areas could be a key to success.
“I’ll be using MEGA Side and Down Imaging, looking for grass clumps and points along with hard bottom areas. My go-to’s will be lipless crankbaits, chatterbaits and jerk baits so I can cover as much water as possible. The fish will be in a pre-spawn phase. If you can figure out where they’re staging, you could find yourself in a great position going into Sunday.”
With the power of Humminbird and Minn Kota products working together, these anglers will be equipped with the most advanced fishing system on the water, the One-Boat Network™.
New for the 2020 season, these anglers can spend more time fishing the most productive water and see fish more clearly with Humminbird’s MEGA 360 Imaging. MEGA 360 Imaging provides sonar clarity more than three-times traditional 455 kHz frequencies and is the only sonar option delivering a high-resolution, 360-degree view out to 125 feet around the boat and is exclusively designed to allow full use of the trolling motor.
MEGA 360 Imaging delivers a unique tool to see around the boat while fishing, which can be used simultaneously with and other Minn Kota features.