Three days ago, at the end of Tuesday’s long practice day, Matt Arey said he’d be shocked if this tourney was not won ‘out deep’ – but also added fans might be surprised at the number of big 6 and 7 pound bluegill-eating bass that would be caught up shallow.
At a fast glance, that statement seems to be a bit contradictory. But actually it’s a precise reflection of the fact Arey was absolutely dialed-in to the reality this would not just be a deep-water derby, like so many thought it would.
Instead, it’s proving to be a tournament tied to deeper post spawners, with plenty of fat toads being caught from the shallows too. When Arey slapped nearly 23 pounds on the scales Day 2 to take the lead, his predictions became profoundly validated. And the 6-pounder he caught shallow put a punctuation mark on it.
Obviously, his eyes allow him to find the shallow honey holes dotted with the best visible habitat such as water willow and boat docks. But he’s been hugely dependent on his electronics to identify the best depth zones away from the bank.
“The custom color shading option on my Lowrance units have been really key this week, because I can color the precise depths around the lake on my map where most of my brushpile fish are coming from. That makes those exact depths easier to find at a fast glance,” explains Arey, who earned a degree in Agriculture Business from NC State.
When Arey says precise, he means it. He literally has the best brushpile depths identified down to about a five-foot zone he described as being colored a shade of maroon on his Lowrance units. Anything deeper or shallower than that magical maroon range seldom gets a look.
“Eufaula is fishing unbelievable. It’s gotten amazingly better the last 7 or 8 years. I’ll say right now it would give Lake Fork a run for its money. Eufaula has got to be one of the best bass lakes in the country,” says Arey.
Given the number of 5-bass limits over 20-pounds caught the past two days, it’d be hard to argue with him.
And perhaps the coolest part of this history rich 45,000-acre impoundment right now is the mix of each day’s biggest bass being caught on everything from giant flutter spoons out deep, to frogs in a foot or two of water.
Just as Arey predicted.