Jeff Gustafson Takes Day One Lead of 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Lake Lanier

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2019 Elite Series Lake Lanier Day One Leader Jeff Gustafson – photo courtesy B.A.S.S – Seigo Saito

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Jeff Gustafson said coming into this week that Lake Lanier on the historic Chattahoochee River was probably his favorite fishery in the lower 48 United States.

Thursday didn’t do a thing to change his mind.

The 36-year-old first-year Elite Series pro from Keewatin, Canada, caught five bass that weighed 19 pounds, 2 ounces and took the lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier. He said the lake reminds him of home — even though he is more than 2,000 miles away, fishing for green spotted bass instead of brown smallmouth.

“Obviously, today was a lot more fun for me than last week when I had two fish to start out my Elite Series career in Florida,” Gustafson said. “I’m not catching a lot of fish, but I got some good ones today.”

Gustafson learned to love Lake Lanier last year when he finished seventh here in an FLW Tour event. He said that prior knowledge told him what was swimming in the lake — but not how to catch them this week.

“It’s completely different this year,” he said. “I didn’t catch fish off any of the places that I did last year.

“But I like fishing for spots. These things act a lot like the smallmouths do up at Lake of the Woods, where I live.”

Gustafson’s two biggest fish — both spotted bass in the 4-pound range — were the first two he put in his livewell. His finesse tactics included a jerkbait, a swimbait and other lures he said were “really no secret.”

His biggest obstacle of the day was the light line he’s using to target fish in the clear water. He said he broke off two bass in brushpiles that could have helped him eclipse the 20-pound mark.

Gustafson’s bag topped a day that was dominated by healthy spotted bass that looked like they had all swallowed footballs. David Mullins of Mount Carmel, Tenn., was second with 17-12, followed by Virginia pro Rick Morris with 17-6 and Californian Chris Zaldain with 16-15.

Like Gustafson, Mullins said his experience with smallmouth — albeit on Tennessee’s Cherokee Lake — played a role in his Day 1 success.

“This lake fishes a lot like home, where you have a window in the morning for about an hour and half to two hours and then it kicks back up in the evening,” Mullins said. “It’s the same way at home — and if you have wind, it seems like they’ll bite all day long.

“The wind just didn’t blow much today.”

Mullins wasn’t the only angler who said the flat, calm conditions made the fishing tougher Thursday. Likewise, he wasn’t the only one excited about Friday’s forecast that calls for clouds, increased winds and rain showers beginning around 1 p.m.

“If it stays cloudy with a low ceiling all day, I feel like I’m going to catch them,” Mullins said. “When I don’t catch them is when it gets sunny and slick.”

Morris, a noted shallow-water expert, said he leaned on his background from Upstate New York to find the Lake Lanier spots.

“I grew up with a spinning rod in my hand,” Morris said. “When I first went pro in the Opens, I had all spinning rods on the deck — didn’t even know how to throw a baitcaster. I have spinning-rod skills, and I had to apply them today.”

Though he said he’d rather be fishing fast, he used a slow finesse game Thursday around deep structure.

“I caught probably a dozen fish,” Morris said, “so I feel pretty confident that I can go out and probably catch 13 to 14 pounds tomorrow.”

One of the few big largemouth brought in Thursday belonged to Indiana pro Bill Lowen. It weighed 6-14 and claimed the lead in the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the week.

Patrick Walters, who took the lead in the DICK’S Sporting Goods Rookie of the Year race last week with a fourth-place finish on the St. Johns River, had another stellar day Thursday. The 24- year-old South Carolina pro caught five bass that weighed 16-12 and finished tied for fifth place with Ray Hanselman Jr.

“I came into the season thinking (Toyota Bassmaster) Angler of the Year,” Walters said. “If you think like that — and fish like that — Rookie of the Year will take care of itself.” As the leader in the DICK’S Sporting Goods Rookie of the Year race, Walters collected $500. He’ll get another $500 if he retains the lead after this week’s Elite event, and $10,000 if he earns the crown at season’s end.

Other bonus awards winners from the Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River last week were Rick Clunn, who won $1,000 for being the Toyota AOY leader and John Crews Jr., who
collected the $1,500 Phoenix Boats Big Bass award for his 11-2 largemouth.

The tournament resumes Friday, with takeoff scheduled for 6:45 a.m. from Laurel Park in Hall County and weigh-in back at the park at 3:10 p.m. Only the Top 35 anglers will advance to Saturday’s semifinal round.

Takeoffs Saturday and Sunday will also be at 6:45 a.m. from Laurel Park, but the weigh-ins will
shift to Coolray Field on Buford Dr. in Lawrenceville, Ga., at 4 p.m.

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series at Lake Lanier Title Sponsor: Toyota

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Abu Garcia, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, Carhartt, Lowrance, Mossy Oak Fishing, T-H Marine

Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier Host Sponsor: Gwinnett County Sports Commission 

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. With more than 510,000 members internationally, B.A.S.S. is not only home to the nation’s premier fishing tournament trails, but it also boasts the most expansive and comprehensive media network in the fishing industry. Its media include The Bassmasters on the ESPN networks, more than 130 hours of tournament programming on the Pursuit Channel, 250 hours of on-the-water streaming coverage on Bassmaster LIVE and 1 million monthly visitors to the flagship website on bass fishing – Bassmaster.com. B.A.S.S. also provides more than 4.4 million readers with the best in bass fishing coverage through Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times, and its radio and social media programs and events reach hundreds of thousands each month.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, culminating in the ultimate event on the biggest stage for competitive anglers, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The trail also includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, BassPro.com Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series, and the Bassmaster Team Championship.

2019 Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier 2/14-2/17
Lake Lanier, Gwinnett  GA.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1

   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Jeff Gustafson         Keewatin Ontario CANADA  5  19-02  100
  Day 1: 5   19-02   
2.  David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN            5  17-12   99
  Day 1: 5   17-12   
3.  Rick Morris            Lake Gaston, VA          5  17-06   98
  Day 1: 5   17-06   
4.  Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX           5  16-15   97
  Day 1: 5   16-15   
5.  Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX              5  16-12   96
  Day 1: 5   16-12   
5.  Patrick Walters        Summerville, SC          5  16-12   96
  Day 1: 5   16-12   
7.  Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL            5  16-11   94
  Day 1: 5   16-11   
7.  Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               5  16-11   94
  Day 1: 5   16-11   
7.  Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT            5  16-11   94
  Day 1: 5   16-11   
10. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           5  16-06   91
  Day 1: 5   16-06   
11. Todd Auten             Lake Wylie, SC           5  16-01   90
  Day 1: 5   16-01   
12. Brandon Card           Knoxville, TN            5  15-15   89
  Day 1: 5   15-15   
12. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           5  15-15   89
  Day 1: 5   15-15   
14. Drew Cook              Midway, FL               5  15-14   87
  Day 1: 5   15-14   
14. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL           5  15-14   87
  Day 1: 5   15-14   
14. Jesse Tacoronte        Kissimmee, FL            5  15-14   87
  Day 1: 5   15-14   
17. Randy Sullivan         Breckenridge, TX         5  15-11   84
  Day 1: 5   15-11   
18. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY              5  15-08   83
  Day 1: 5   15-08   
19. Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX               5  15-07   82
  Day 1: 5   15-07   
20. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               5  15-06   81
  Day 1: 5   15-06   
21. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN           5  15-02   80
  Day 1: 5   15-02   
22. Chris Johnston         Peterborough Ontario CA  5  15-01   79
  Day 1: 5   15-01   
22. Yusuke Miyazaki        Forney, TX               5  15-01   79
  Day 1: 5   15-01   
24. Hunter Shryock         Newcomerstown, OH        5  14-15   77
  Day 1: 5   14-15   
25. Chad Pipkens           Lansing, MI              5  14-12   76
  Day 1: 5   14-12   
26. Bill Weidler           Helena, AL               5  14-10   75
  Day 1: 5   14-10   
27. Randy Pierson          Oakdale, CA              5  14-08   74
  Day 1: 5   14-08   
27. Brian Snowden          Reeds Spring, MO         5  14-08   74
  Day 1: 5   14-08   
29. Shane Lineberger       Lincolnton, NC           5  14-06   72
  Day 1: 5   14-06   
30. Derek Hudnall          Baton Rouge, LA          5  14-04   71
  Day 1: 5   14-04   
30. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS         5  14-04   71
  Day 1: 5   14-04   
32. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  14-00   69
  Day 1: 5   14-00   
33. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA           5  13-15   68
  Day 1: 5   13-15   
34. Lee Livesay            Longview, TX             5  13-13   67
  Day 1: 5   13-13   
35. Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR               5  13-12   66
  Day 1: 5   13-12   
36. Mike Huff              Corbin, KY               5  13-11   65
  Day 1: 5   13-11   
37. Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA             5  13-10   64
  Day 1: 5   13-10   
38. Garrett Paquette       Canton, MI               5  13-08   63
  Day 1: 5   13-08   
39. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA             5  13-05   62
  Day 1: 5   13-05   
40. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL             5  13-03   61
  Day 1: 5   13-03   
41. Seth Feider            New Market, MN           5  13-02   60
  Day 1: 5   13-02   
42. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland TX AUSTRALIA  5  13-00   59
  Day 1: 5   13-00   
43. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  5  12-15   58
  Day 1: 5   12-15   
44. Greg DiPalma           Millville, NJ            5  12-13   57
  Day 1: 5   12-13   
45. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               5  12-12   56
  Day 1: 5   12-12   
46. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          5  12-11   55
  Day 1: 5   12-11   
47. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC           5  12-08   54
  Day 1: 5   12-08   
48. Drew Benton            Panama City, FL          5  12-07   53
  Day 1: 5   12-07   
49. Frank Talley           Temple, TX               5  12-04   52
  Day 1: 5   12-04   
50. Skylar Hamilton        Dandridge, TN            5  11-15   51
  Day 1: 5   11-15   
51. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA                5  11-14   50
  Day 1: 5   11-14   
51. Kyle Monti             Okeechobee, FL           5  11-14   50
  Day 1: 5   11-14   
53. Chad Morgenthaler      Reeds Spring, MO         5  11-13   48
  Day 1: 5   11-13   
54. David Fritts           Lexington, NC            5  11-09   47
  Day 1: 5   11-09   
55. Brett Preuett          Monroe, LA               5  11-07   46
  Day 1: 5   11-07   
56. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK             5  11-05   45
  Day 1: 5   11-05   
57. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA             5  11-04   44
  Day 1: 5   11-04   
58. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC              4  11-04   43
  Day 1: 4   11-04   
59. Dale Hightower         Mannford, OK             5  11-03   42
  Day 1: 5   11-03   
59. Clark Wendlandt        Leander, TX              5  11-03   42
  Day 1: 5   11-03   
61. Jay Yelas              Lincoln City, OR         5  11-01   40
  Day 1: 5   11-01   
62. Matt Arey              Shelby, NC               5  11-00   39
  Day 1: 5   11-00   
62. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC            5  11-00   39
  Day 1: 5   11-00   
64. Rob Digh               Denver, NC               5  10-13   37
  Day 1: 5   10-13   
65. Koby Kreiger           Alva, FL                 4  10-13   36
  Day 1: 4   10-13   
66. Harvey Horne           Bella Vista, AR          5  10-10   35
  Day 1: 5   10-10   
67. Shane Lehew            Catawba, NC              5  10-06   34
  Day 1: 5   10-06   
68. Jake Whitaker          Fairview, NC             5  10-02   33
  Day 1: 5   10-02   
69. Kelley Jaye            Dadeville, AL            5  09-10   32
  Day 1: 5   09-10   
70. Robbie Latuso          Gonzales, LA             4  09-10   31
  Day 1: 4   09-10   
71. Tyler Carriere         Youngsville, LA          5  09-05   30
  Day 1: 5   09-05   
72. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY              4  08-07   29
  Day 1: 4   08-07   
73. Quentin Cappo          Prairieville, LA         3  06-03   28
  Day 1: 3   06-03   
74. Chris Groh             Spring Grove, IL         2  05-06   27
  Day 1: 2   05-06   
75. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00   
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Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
 1        68       361       988-08
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          68       361       988-08