• What was your plan coming into the tournament and did go as planned?
When it comes to tournament bass fishing you usually need to keep a completely open mind when going to a lake you are not familiar with. It is very hard to have a completely accurate theory on what the fish will be doing. With that being said, I knew this would be a primarily offshore tournament. So, I put all my eggs in one basket and devoted my entire practice to graphing for offshore fish. I found quite a few schools of fish and brush piles. The strange thing about the schools of bass at Lake Eufaula was their tendency to move. On most lakes I’m used to fishing offshore schools of fish they are always there; they just may not bite. On Eufaula, I had to idle the same spot 3-5 times a day and the fish would randomly be there at some point. I felt like I had a solid plan going into the tournament. After Idling for 30+ hours in the 3 days of practice I marked 9 schools of fish and nearly 100 brush piles. My plan in the tournament was to cover as much water as possible and make just a few casts to each key piece of structure.
• What was your pattern the first three days?
The fishing pressure during the tournament definitely repositioned the fish. Lake Eufaula had been highly pressured not just from our tournament but also the Toyota Series tournament the week before. The First two days of competition, I was able to rely heavily on the large offshore schools of bass I located. It was very challenging to get my timing and positioning right on these schools. I knew from practice the areas these fish would pull up on the ledges and feed but they would position differently every day. I had to idle with my Lowrance over every place to see where they were positioned at that exact moment.
I would mark the fish then be able to catch a few in a row before the school broke up and I had to find them again. Sometimes the ledge would have 5 fish and sometimes it would be 50+. It was just a timing thing. As the tournament progressed into days 3 and 4 the ledge fish became too pressured, so I shifted to more of a brush pile game. I would run as many brush piles as I could. The brush piles were solid fish but the bite was very slow. I usually only caught one or two fish before having to move to another pile.
• How did the weather change going into day 4 and how did that change your approach?
The final day of the tournament started very slowly for me. I fished many of my ledges and brush piles with limited success in the morning. However, around midday the weather the wind picked up somewhat to cause a little current to start moving through the lake. I decided to make a move back through the string of my most productive brush piles. The conditions had been basically calm for the past days. During the calm conditions I relied mostly on a more finesse approach with a worm and swimbait.
Reel: Abu Garcia STX Revo 7.3:1
Rod: Ark Rods Prototype Brandon Cobb Signature Rod 7’4″ MH
Line: 16 lb Top Knot Flouro
Bait: Zoom Mag U-Tale Redbug on a 1/2 oz shaky head
Reel: Abu Garcia STX Revo 7.3:1
Rod: Ark Rods Prototype Brandon Cobb Signature Series 7’4″ MH
Line: 16 lb Top Knot Fluoro
Bait: 1/2 oz greenfish tackle swim jig white with 3.8in Zoom Z-Swim swimbait (white)
Once I noticed the wind causing some water disturbance, I picked up the Yo-Zuri 3DS DD crankbait. I caught 20 lbs in that particular bite window in just a few brush piles. The crankbait excels in conditions with wind, clouds, or current.
• What made you decide to use the 3DS Crank Deep Diver in particular? What are some of the advantages of this bait over other deep diving crank baits in that depth range?
The 3DS DD has always been one of my staple offshore crankbaits. It is not an extremely deep diving crankbait but perfect for that mid-depth 10-12 feet of water. Most of the brush I targeted was in that exact depth of water making it the perfect option. The bill design allows it to plow through the brush easily with minimum hang ups. Retrieve speed is really key to fishing brush piles with crankbaits at nearly every lake. You need to be able to quickly plow the crankbait through the limbs to trigger the fish. The 3DS DD allows you to not slow down when the bait hits the first limb. This triggered the bass they may have really not been feeding.
Reel: Abu Garcia STX Revo 6.6:1
Rod: Ark Rods Prototype Brandon Cobb Signature Series 7’3″ M Fiberglass composite
Line: 12 lb Top Knot Fluoro
Bait: 3DS DD chart/blue (Available at https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Yo-Zuri_3DS_Series_Deep_Diving_Crankbaits/descpage-YZ3DDC.html)
• This was the first tournament coming off pandemic. Was there a different feel to this tournament compared to the typical Elite series event?
It really felt like the first tournament of the season. It also felt like it had a “bigger” feel than a lot of the other tournaments. It was really one of the first major bass tournaments, or really any kind of professional event, back at it. The pressure was a little higher because I felt like it was a necessity to get the season back on track. During mid-season it can often become a grind going from one lake to the next with little down time, but with the break I was more excited than ever to get back to competition.