The Leader in Pro Bass Fishing News!
Facebook Twitter

Auburn student wins Toyota event at Guntersville

Auburn student wins Toyota event at Guntersville

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – Less than a week removed from 21-year-old phenom Drew Gill’s MLF Invitationals win at Sam Rayburn , 20-year-old Auburn University standout Hayden Marbut bested Gill (11th) Friday at Lake Guntersville in the Toyota Series Central Division opener in impressive fashion, weighing in just a tick over 70 pounds of bass – the only angler in the field to crack the 70-pound mark over three days.

Like Gill at Rayburn, Marbut leaned on his aptitude with forward-facing sonar – not to mention his vast experience on Guntersville – to best an enormous field of 260 anglers. He did so with unmatched consistency, weighing in 22-10, 25-1 and 22-6, respectively, edging out Day-2 leader Matt O’Connell (69-15) by just 2 ounces.

For Marbut, the first major solo win of his bass fishing career adds to a stacked resume for a bass fishing phenom not even old enough to have a celebratory beer.

“I’m a junior this year and I’ll be a senior next year, but I plan on staying a fifth year,” he said. “I’ve fished so much the last couple years that there’s no chance of me graduating on time.

“I’ve been super fortunate. I won a high school national championship and was able to win two college national championships last year, and that’s kind of what drove me to compete at this level.”

One of the young anglers many turn to when discussing the future of the sport, Marbut’s affinity for catching big bass using forward-facing sonar is no surprise. At Guntersville, he caught all the fish he weighed in ‘Scoping, though it wasn’t as easy as just eyeballing some fish and casting to them.

After finishing fourth in the BFL event at Guntersville the previous weekend, Marbut spent the following few days practicing, trying to adjust to changing weather and water conditions. In the days that followed that BFL, current started ripping on Guntersville, blowing out formerly productive areas and completely changing the way fish were setting up.

“We had a lot of changing conditions this week,” he said. “Everything changed, and I had to adjust a lot. I had to find completely new fish. Everything I was fishing last week was blown out. The current really affected it.”

He’s spent what he estimates to be thousands of hours on Guntersville. As such, he was able to pivot to new, similarly productive plans that involved finding some cleaner water outside the ripping current of the main river.

“I had two main little places in an area that had a lot of bait, and I focused in on one of them today (Friday),” he said. “They were both just out of the current and there was a little bit cleaner water. I think that was something that was really special about them.

“There was clearer water, and I could get my bait down to them. They could see it from a little bit further. Trying to lead these fish with forward-facing sonar in this current and adjust with the wind and everything like that is hard to do. That cleaner water helped me get extra bites when I was looking at them.”

In those areas, bass were more prone to suspend (as opposed to sticking tight to the bottom around current breaks as the main-lake bass were often doing throughout the event), making them a little easier to target.

For the task, Marbut relied on a 3/8-ounce Picasso ball head tipped with a fluke-style bait, tied to 15-pound-test P-Line braid with a 12-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon leader. That was spooled on 3000-size Shimano Sustain reels and a pair of different rods: A 6-foot-10 G. Loomis NRX+ and a 7-foot Hammer rod.

As for his Garmin LiveScope settings, Marbut kept it pretty simple and stuck with the range settings he’s used to: 90 feet out and 40 feet deep.

“That’s what I’ve gotten the most comfortable with,” he said. “I’ve been using that range for a long time and I’m able to hit them efficiently; I can really tell how big they are that way. You have to play with it a lot to understand and interpret everything that you’re reading on the LiveScope, but I’ve been able to look at the screen so much and get comfortable with that range that I’ve been able to target some of the bigger ones.”

That was certainly the case over three days at Guntersville. Marbut’s spots, both “way down the lake,” produced multiple 5- and 6-pound fish over the first two days and kicked out more than 20 pounds early on Day 3. From there, it was just a matter of slowly culling up throughout the day for enough weight to eke out the win over O’Connell.

For the win, Marbut was awarded a $100,000 check (which included a $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus) and the pride of winning a major solo tournament so early in his fishing career. He’ll tell you, though, it wasn’t about the money.

“The money’s cool and all, but I’ve never fished for the money,” he said. “I just love bass fishing. This is what I do every single day, and it’s what I’m going to try to do every day for the rest of my life.”

Here's how the Top 10 finished:

1st: Hayden Marbut, Birmingham, Ala., 15 bass, 70-1, $100,000
2nd: Matt O’Connell, Brooks, Ga, 15 bass, 69-15, $28,300
3rd: Mickey Beck, Lebanon, Tenn., 15 bass, 66-9, $18,000
4th: Travis Alcock, Burlington, Wis., 15 bass, 65-15, $16,500
5th: Jordan Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., 15 bass, 64-10, $15,000
6th: Austin Swindle, Parrish, Ala., 15 bass, 64-4, $11,500
7th: Dillon Falardeau, Hixson, Tenn., 15 bass, 63-1, $10,000
8th: Clint Knight, Lewisburg, Ky., 15 bass, 62-11, $8,500
9th: Logan Dyar, Cleveland, Ala., 13 bass, 62-2, $7,500
10th: Michael Black, Toledo, Ill., 15 bass, 61-13, $5,500

Latest News

Video You May Like