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G'ville kayak winner stayed offshore

G'ville kayak winner stayed offshore

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — By committing to an offshore area of Lake Guntersville, Eric Siddiqi claimed his second career YBassmaster Kayak Series trophy with a two-day total of 189.5 inches, earning $11,500 in the process.

The Cincinnati, Ohio, angler landed 96.25 inches on Day 1 before adding 93.25 inches on Day 2 for a 189.50-inch total, enough to outlast South Carolina’s Barry Davis in second (187 inches) and Connecticut's Ryan Nye in third (186.75 inches).

“I love ledge fishing,” Siddiqi said. “So, I decided to go out and give that a shot. I caught some big ones out there in practice and had a couple spots.”

Siddiqi’s first Bassmaster victory came in 2022 when he won the National Championship on Richard B. Russell Lake on the South Carolina/Georgia border. This win at Guntersville, he said, means just as much.

“I was starting to feel like I forgot how to fish this year,” Siddiqi said. “My father passed away at the beginning of last year and the last year and a half has been tough for me. This is as big as (winning) the Championship for me.”

The week didn’t start particularly smoothly for Siddiqi. After installing a new Garmin LiveScope system to his kayak at Dugout Bait and Tackle in Georgia, Siddiqi’s truck experienced mechanical issues, delaying the start to his practice.

Once he did hit the water, however, he found two viable patterns he could fish, one offshore and one shallow. With Kentucky Lake ledge experience, Siddiqi elected to fish offshore and split time between two structural elements of a “community hole” on Guntersville.

“The shallow spot I had, I’ve fished before in tournaments and I know there are big fish in there. But sometimes it is tough to get five of them, especially if there is more than one other person in there with you,” he explained. “I was thinking about going there the morning of the first day and then moving, but the other spot was a 40-minute drive. I really didn’t make the final decision on where I wanted to fish until I got to the end of the road (on tournament morning) and needed to turn right or left.”

Each morning, Siddiqi started on a long point that was 3 feet deep on top with grass and eventually dropped into 30 feet of water. Once the point dropped to 6 feet or deeper, the point had a harder bottom that bass were relating to.

In the afternoons, he would move off the point to a subtle hump that started in 30 feet of water and rose to 28 feet. It also featured hard-bottom.

A Neko-rigged Berkley MaxScent Hit Worm with a heavier nail weight and a No. 1 VMC Redline hook was a key presentation in both areas.

“A lot of times I was having to dead-stick it and I never really felt any of the bass bite, especially the big ones. Whenever I twitched or moved it nothing was happening,” he explained.

He caught just six bass each day, but the ones he landed were the right size.

On Day 1, Siddiqi saw fish schooling on the point. Most of them were white bass, but he was able to coax a couple of quality largemouth into biting his Neko rig, including a 20.25-inch lunker. He also got a key bite with a Megabass topwater bait.

“I couldn’t really get them to eat anything but that, but I wanted to have something with a good hookup ratio. I don’t throw it often, but it seemed like a good thing to throw,” he said.

Later in the day, he landed two more bass over 20 inches around the offshore hump.

Day 2 followed a similar script, as Siddiqi opened his day by catching a 19-inch spotted bass, followed by several limit-fillers. His one misstep came about midday, when he lost a bass that was well over 21 inches.

“I was reeling it and trying to keep up with it. When I got it to the boat, I went to net it and it came up and shook off. That one hurt for a long time. I was pretty sure that fish lost it for me.”

After a three-hour lull, Siddiqi landed a 22.25 largemouth before a giant patch of eelgrass covered up his casting lane.

Davis, meanwhile, landed in 19th with 90.25 inches on Day 1 before jumping into the runner-up position on Day 2 with a limit measuring 96.75 inches.

“It was a good time of year to have a Guntersville tournament,” he said. “I had a lot of bites. I fished some stuff I had never fished before. I actually did some offshore fishing, which isn’t me. I found bass everywhere I went.”

Two different bites played out for Davis. On Day 1, he launched from the Goose Pond area of Guntersville and focused on bream beds located close to shell as well as hydrilla beds. His bigger bites came in 6 to 7 feet of water. With clouds most of the day, Davis was able to catch the majority of his bass on a True South V Twin buzzbait with a 3.8 FIVE Bass Tackle paddletail swimbait trailer.

On Day 2, he decided to fish an offshore ditch where he lost a big one at the end of the first day and caught several bass to start the morning. The particular spot had a grass edge in 5 to 6 feet of water that then dropped off into 12 feet. Most of his bass were caught with a FIVE Bass Tackle football jig paired with a FIVE Bass Tackle Clutch Craw trailer.

“You would pull up some grass with the jig, but you could usually pull it loose from the hydrilla and that is when I got a lot of my bites,” he said.

Nye was consistent throughout the event, landing 92 inches on Day 1 before catching 94.75 inches on the final day. The majority of his time was spent in an area he found in practice he believed to hold a good population of bass. He used a Martins Custom Baits bladed jig and a wakebait.

Pennsylvania’s Alex Miller landed the Big Bass of the Tournament, a 22.50-inch largemouth he caught on the final day.

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