Eight Alabama natives will be among the field when 85 of the world’s best anglers take to the historic waters of Lake Guntersville Sept. 30 - Oct. 3 for the NOCO Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville, kicking off a busy schedule of fall derbies across the South.
Daily launches and weigh-ins will take place at Goose Pond Colony Resort Marina in Scottsboro, Ala., which is hosting the event. The tournament was previously scheduled for New York’s Cayuga Lake in July.
The Alabama contingent is headlined by Bill Weidler, of Helena, who surged from eighth place on Championship Sunday to win the most recent Elite Series tournament — the YETI Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair — and 2019 Angler of the Year Scott Canterbury of Odenville.
As originally scheduled, the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series season would have ended on Lake St. Clair, and it is rare for the Elites to fish fall events; however, Weidler is looking forward to fall fishing in the Deep South.
“I’ve grown up in the South,” Weidler said. “I don’t hunt, so I fish year-round, and I’ve seen what the lakes offer this time of year. I’ve spent a lot of time at Guntersville this time of year, so I’m very optimistic about what the remaining four events will hold.”
Canterbury echoes this enthusiasm for fall fishing. He is currently sitting No. 9 in the Angler of the Year points race but is anxious to erase a 46th-place finish on his last tournament on Lake Guntersville — the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
“I was very disappointed with my 2020 Classic finish; trying to hit a home run anyone can strike out and that is exactly what happened,” said Canterbury. “I am excited for another opportunity on Lake Guntersville. Guntersville can be tough in early fall, but the lake is full of big bass. Anyone can get on the right bite and have the opportunity to win.”
Elite Series rookie Wes Logan of Springville believes the fall events can prove educational for Bassmaster LIVE viewers and anglers of any skill level who tune in to on-the-water coverage on Bassmaster.com and ESPN3.
“These fall tournaments are going to allow the fans and viewers to see how pro anglers break down lakes during probably the toughest time of year to fish,” said Logan. “It should make for an interesting end to the season, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
In addition to Weidler, Canterbury and Logan, other Alabama anglers competing at the NOCO Bassmaster Elite on Lake Guntersville include Clent Davis of Montevallo, Matt Herren of Ashville, Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Kyle Welcher of Opelika and Guntersville’s own Gerald Swindle. Dadeville pro Kelley Jaye will not be fishing the remainder of the 2020 season.
Angler Jamie Hartman raised the coveted blue championship trophy when the Elite Series visited Scottsboro in June 2019, winning the four-day tournament in dramatic fashion by coming from tenth place to win with a total of 79 pounds, 10 ounces. In March of this year, Hank Cherry dominated the 2020 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville. Cherry weighed in a massive 29-3 limit on Day 1 of the tournament en route to a wire-to-wire victory.
A first-place prize of $100,000 and a total purse of more than $700,000 will be on the line in Scottsboro, along with valuable points that will help anglers earn berths in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.