Florence, Ala. – Every time the Alabama Bass Trail’s Southern Division hits Lay Lake, the team of Chris Rutland and Coby Carden have to be considered dangerous. With bass heading into the postspawn and a shad spawn kicking off on the morning on Lay Lake, Rutland and Carden become even more dangerous.
On Saturday, at the ABT South’s fourth stop of the 2019 season, despite a nearly two hour fog delay, Rutland and Carden provided clarity at the end of the day. Having earned Alabama Bass Trail victories two previous times, the pair claimed the win for the third time on Lay Lake with a total weight of 24.47 pounds; their catch included a 6.40-pound largemouth that was the Mountain Dew Big Bass of the event. Their total earnings for the competition came to $10,500.
Rutland and Carden said that they were only able to catch a couple of fish early because of the fog, but they made up for it with main lake and mid-depth offshore patterns as the day wore on. “We caught a couple fish on the frog early, but went deep the rest of the day,” they said. “In the afternoon we covered as many deep spots as we could and filled our limit; it was a really good day.” They reported catching fish on frogs in the morning, then flipping grass and docks as well as cranking mid depth areas in 8 to 10 feet of water to fill their creel.
With the win, they become the first team to win three Alabama Bass Trail tournaments, and they moved into the 2019 Southern Division points lead with only Lake Eufaula remaining on the calendar.
As impressive as the accomplishment of Rutland and Carden is, had it not been for the misfortune of the second place team, the win would not have happened. Foster Bradley and Nick Harris brought 24.58 pounds to the Beeswax Creek scales, but a deceased fish cost them a one-pound penalty, and dropped their total weight to 23.58 pounds. The result was a second place finish, and the $5,000 runner’s up prize.
Despite the outcome, the team was upbeat about the occurrence. That’s just the way things go sometimes,” they said. “It was our biggest fish, and it was hooked in the tongue, so we knew it wasn’t going to make it. It was almost six pounds, so there was no way we couldn’t keep it; but, we had a good day.”
They reported starting the morning with a frog, but the fog limited their bites. After that, they turned to running a multitude of deep water areas with a 3/4-ounce football jig in either green pumpkin or Peanut Butter and Jelly with a double tailed grub or Rage Craw trailer. They said they fished from three miles above Beeswax Creek to downlake near Paint Creek. “We would have liked the win, but can’t complain,” they said. “We really did everything we could, and had a great day; we’re satisfied with the finish.”
The team of Nicholas Turner and Joe Lay posted a 22.95-pound limit and finished the day in third place; earning $4,000 for the day.
The Southern Division of the Alabama Bass Trail wraps up their 2019 season on June 15 at Lake Eufaula.
The Top 10 Standings are below, for complete standings, click here.