Canadians Chris Johnston 5th, Cory Johnston 10th & Gustafson 71st
BASS PRESS RELEASE
Morning flurry paves way to monster limit.
A fast start plus two afternoon upgrades yielded a five-bass limit of 27 pounds, 10 ounces for Caleb Kuphall of Mukwonago, Wis., who leads Day 1 of the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville.
Heading into Day 2, Kuphall holds a lead of 6-7 over veteran South Carolina pro Todd Auten.
According to BassTrakk’s unofficial standings, Kuphall had secured a limit of approximately 19-4 by 6:58 a.m. Registering his first keeper — a 2-12 — 24 minutes after the 5:30 takeoff, Kuphall quickly added four more keepers, including two over 5 pounds.
About 30 minutes after securing the day’s first limit, Kuphall upgraded to 21-12. Several hours passed without further improvement, but shortly after noon, he added a 4-8 and followed with a 5-8 just before 1 p.m.
Noting that he fished two different areas, Kuphall described his primary spot as a classic postspawn staging area. Located in a large spawning cove, the area he targeted provided a natural stopping point for bass on their way out toward summer habitat.
“It was a point with a big mat of milfoil going out to the main lake,” he said. “I got back-to-back bites — in the morning, I caught a 6- and a 5 1/2-pounder on the very next cast.
“I kind of had two things going today, and the first one was a supershallow deal. I caught two of my weigh-in fish in about 3 feet of water, and the rest of them came in about 6 feet.”
Kuphall kept his bait details guarded, but he noted that a bottom-oriented presentation tempted all of his bites. He used multiple colors, but he said the appearance is less important than the presentation.
“It’s a reaction bite; a fast-fall kind of deal,” he said.
Kuphall said he ended up having to fish his area out, as a fellow competitor was showing interest. He’s hopeful that a few quality fish remain, so he’ll explore it again on Day 2.
“I hit it pretty hard, I don’t think there’s much left there,” he said. “I’m going to give it a go tomorrow and hopefully get a few bites off of it.
“It’s not something that’s going to hold up for multiple days. It’s pretty much a one-and-done deal.”
In second place, Auten sacked up a limit that weighed 21-3. His morning also started quickly, but it took a few hours for him to dial in the quality bites.
“About 9:30, I had one fish — a 7-pounder — but I pulled into a little place and caught a couple of good ones, messed around and caught another good one,” Auten said. “That was about it on the big fish and then I caught a couple more 2-pounders.
“I struggled, really. I just got lucky and got a couple of good bites. It might be the area. I’ll have to go back in there tomorrow and see.”
Auten described his most productive area as a windblown point where prespawn and postspawn fish were staging. A crankbait and spinnerbait produced all of his weight, with the 7-pounder biting the latter.
Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, is in third with 20-12. One week after winning the Basspro.com Bassmaster Northern Open at James River, Palaniuk took a mobile approach to tracking down Guntersville’s transitioning bass.
Having gone through about 35 baits Thursday, Palaniuk said he caught all of his weight on two reaction baits. One of them was a Storm Arashi Glide Bait in the black silver shad color.
“I saw a piece of cover and said, ‘I have to stop and throw a glide on that,’” he said. “I caught a 3-pounder and one that was about 5 1/2.
“I was just trying to cover water. I feel like these fish are moving so much, you have to stay on top of them.”
Caleb Sumrall of New Iberia, La., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 7-6.
Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., maintained his lead in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 602 points. Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., is in second with 574, followed by Palaniuk with 560, Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., with 552 and Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Canada, with 545.
KJ Queen of Catawba, N.C., leads the Rookie of the Year standings with 451 points.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 5:30 a.m. CT from Goose Pond Landing. The weigh-in will be held at Goose Pond at 2 p.m. Only the Top 48 anglers will advance after Friday’s weigh-in to fish the semifinal round on Saturday.