By Greg McCain


Repeat Winner Top Boater – Coby Carden

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The odds of a bass fisherman winning a tournament are slim, the odds of winning consecutive tournaments even slimmer.

A couple of Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation fishermen proved long shots are not impossible to overcome, however.

Boater Coby Carden and co-angler Chandler Teems, who each won the first ABN qualifier of 2018 on Lake Eufaula in March, repeated their wins Saturday (May 19) on Lake Guntersville.

Carden, a two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, topped a field of 57 boaters to capture another in a long string of B.A.S.S. Nation victories with a five-fish limit of 24.69 pounds.

Teems, fishing with boater Jack White (Lake Tuscaloosa Bassmasters), put together an equally impressive three-fish limit that weighed 15.17. Teems’ total included the tournament’s big fish, an 8.62 largemouth that easily won the Academy Sports + Outdoors Big Fish prize.

Carden (LA PO Boys) completed a trifecta on the day by teaming with Parrish Argo (also of LA PO Boys) to win the Total Boat Weight category and to qualify for the Team Trail state championship on Eufaula in October. They combined for 37.07. Carden also topped Fishin’ 4 A Cure participants.

Justin Marbut (Shotgun Sports Supply) finished second among boaters with 23.32. Lee Byrd (Birmingham Bass Club), who won the 2017 ABN tournament on Guntersville, ranked third with 23.15.

Carden said he fished mid-depth ledges all over the lake. He cranked up his limit on a day when many other tournament competitors focused on shallow grass.

“We caught probably 60 fish on the day,” Carden said. “We caught them all on a (Strike King) 6XD and a Fat Free Shad #7. We fished from Honeycomb (near Guntersville Dam) all the way up past Goose Pond on ledges about 12-15 feet deep.

“It’s been a good year. I had back surgery after (the B.A.S.S. Nation regional on) Toledo Bend,” Carden said. “I’ve only fished twice in the last seven weeks.”

Carden, who claimed his first tournament win ever on Guntersville, said he has enjoyed similar starts to the ABN season.

“I had a year about four years ago when I won two, finished second in two, and then won the state tournament,” Carden said.

Teems, meanwhile, boated the big fish in the final minutes of the tournament to boost his overall total. The big Guntersville largemouth, which hit a Fat Daddy’s jig, allowed him to cull a small keeper.

Teems (Coosa Valley Bassmasters) said repeat wins are nothing new to him.

“Back-to-back is kind of contagious for me,” Teems said, recalling his days at Leeds High School just east of Birmingham. “I won back-to-back state football titles and back-to-back state wrestling titles.”

He needed a little last-minute magic to repeat on Guntersville. He and White had flipped boathouses much of the day, and Teems said he had a small limit in the box until the big fish hit with minutes to spare.

“I had a couple of fish that I thought might have weighed 2 ½ pounds or a little more,” he said. “I pitched out there with the jig, and my line was moving before the jig hit bottom. I jacked him and could tell it was a good one. I said, ‘Get the net.’ ”

Rounding out the top 10 in the boater division were Michael Restifo (Birmingham Bass Club, 23.08), Kyle Glasgow (Winfield Bassmasters, 20.75), Will Bullen (Wiregass Bassmasters, 20.35), Josh Bragg (Wiregrass Bassmasters, 20.29), Brandon Rickman (Wiregrass Bassmasters, 17.92), Bill Gordon (Tiger Bassmasters, 17.72), and Koty McCarley (Hamilton Bassmasters, 17.53).

Among the co-anglers, Eric Howle (Birmingham Bass Club, 13.15) finished second, and McCain Merchant (Winfield Bassmasters, 12.75) took third. Others in the top 10 included Keith Bevis (Quad Cities Bassmasters, 12.71), Michael Cochran (LA PO Boys, 12.45), Argo (12.78), Larry Rockhill (Tennessee Valley Bass Club, 12.06), Danny Mitchell (Hamilton Bassmasters, 12.06), Francis Beard (Neely Henry Bassmasters, 10.37), and Chris Curvin (Neely Henry Bassmasters, 10.13).

Because both Carden and Teems had already qualified for the state team that advances to B.A.S.S. Nation regional, both Marbut and Howle automatically qualify for the state team as second-place finishers.

In the Team Trail competition, Restifo and Howle finished second with Byrd and Kyle Kimbrell (Birmingham Bass Club) in third place. The top three teams qualified for the Team Trail championship. Those teams will compete for the chance to advance to the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship in late fall. A single angler will emerge from the Team Championship as a qualifier for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic.

Sponsors who support ABN events include Academy, Airport Marina, Office Partners, Triton Boats, Mercury, Motor Guide, Lowrance, NetBait, Shell, Hammer Rods, Daiwa, Shelby County, StrikeZone Lure Co., Transducer Shield and Saver, and Charlie’s BBQ.

The next ABN tournament takes place in June on Lay Lake out of Beeswax. The final qualifier is scheduled for Pickwick Lake in July. The Pickwick tournament was originally set for April but postponed due to stormy weather. The ABN state championship, open to qualifying individuals and teams, is set for Oct. 19-20 on Eufaula.

Greg McCain is a freelance writer with current credits in Alabama Outdoor News, Great Days Outdoors, Alabama Game & Fish, and CrappieNOW online magazine in addition to producing content and photos for this website. He is a member of the Belgreen Bass Club, an ABN chapter near Russellville.