By David A. Brown
1. Day-2 leader Scott Hellesen employed a fast-paced strategy in which he hit as many main lake points as possible and caught his fish on a 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in the electric shad color rigged on a 1/4-ounce ball head jig. Blind casting while looking for potential sight-fishing targets ended up yielding his bites.
Difference Maker: Hellesen’s finesse setup comprised a a 7-foot medium-light Stealth Stix Skinny Pete rod with a braid-to-fluoro setup including 6-pound Sunline SX1 and Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.
2. Keeping it simple and effective, Jason Austin of Ione, Calif. earned all of his bites with a Yamamoto Hula Grub rigged on 1/2-ounce Ed’s Lead custom football head.
Difference Maker: While he typically fishes this bait on 12-pound PLine Tactical fluorocarbon, Austin downsized to 10-pound in the ultra-clear water.
3. John Pearl caught his fish on a Neko-rigged 4-inch green pumpkin senko with a 1/32-ounce weight and a Megabass Vision 110 Jr. in matte shad.
Difference Maker: During the windy conditions, Pearl found that his 6-10 3-power Douglas rods provided the sensitivity he needed for feeling bites.
4. Thomas Kanemoto fished a dropshot with a 3.6-inch green pumpkin Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm on a No. 2 Gamakatsu Aaron Martens G-Finesse dropshot hook with a 1/4-ounce weight. He also used a 1/4-ounce 1st Gen Fishing Topspin in the glimmer shad color with a 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in Tennessee shad.
Difference Maker: Kanemoto said his line setup played a key role in his success. For the dropshot, he used 8-pound P-Line Spin-x braid with a 5-pound P-Line Spin-x fluorocarbon leader, while the topspin worked best on 15-pound P-Line Yellow XTCB braid with a 7-pound P-Line Spin-x fluorocarbon leader
5. Leading the Most Scorable Bass division on Day 2, Randy McAbee relied on a 1st Gen Topspin rigged with a Keitech 2.8 Swing Impact Fat in super shad.
Difference Maker: With the fish biting very lightly, McAbee found that the carbon fiber handles of his Stealth Stix rods maximized the sensitivity and helped him respond when a fish loaded.
6. Day-1 leader Austin Bonjour caught all of his fish on a 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in electric shad with a 1/4-ounce Picasso swimbait head.
Difference Maker: Bonjour used a 7-2 iRod Air — a 2-power rod with a moderate fast bend. This rod, he said, was crisp enough to load and make long casts with 8-pound Daiwa J Braid tied to a 6- or 8-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon leader.
7. Ryan White rigged a 5-inch green pumpkin Yamamoto Double Tail Hula Grub on homemade football jigs in 3/8-, 1/2- and 3/4-ounce sizes. He used the 3/4-ounce in deep with a heavy shaking action, while walking the 3/8-ounce down sheer walls in 50-plus feet. He used the 1/2-ounce for general casting. White also caught a scorable bass on dropshot with a 4-inch Roboworm, in the Aaron’s Pro Shad color.
Difference Maker: A Dobyns 733 Champion Series rod and Shimano Curado with 10- and 12-pound P-line fluorocarbon was the right setup for launching those football heads and winding in whatever bit.
8. Nick Cloutier employed a one-two punch comprising 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in smallmouth magic on a 3/16-ounce ball head and a 1/2-ounce jighead with a Yamamoto Hula Grub in green pumpkin and brown/purple.
Difference Maker: Cloutier needed lighter line in the clear water, so he fished the ball head on a 7-2 medium Phenix M1 spinning rod with 6-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon. He threw the Hula Grub on a 7-4 medium-heavy Phenix M1 with Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon. The medium action rods, he notes, were helping him keep his fish pinned.
9. Making his fourth top 10 in a row, Ken Mah kept it simple with a dropshot and alternated between a 3.75-inch Big Bite Baits Jerk Minnow in a shad color and a black Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm. He used a 1/4-ounce weight and 12-pound Sunline PEx8 braid Orange color with an 8-pound Sunline FC fluorocarbon leader.
Difference Maker: Making multiple presentations, almost like a flipping pattern kept Mah in the hunt. Using a G.Loomis JWR-893 IMX Pro rod, he opted for a larger 3000 size Shimano Ci4 Stradic reel for faster line pickup.
10. In windy conditions, Joey Skym threw a 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in electric shad on a 1/4-ounce goby head. When the wind subsided, he threw a 2.75-inch Z-Man TRD in The Deal color on a 1/4-ounce Z-Man ShroomZ head.
Difference Maker: For precise presentations, Skym used a Powell Endurance 753 spinning rod with P-Line Spin-x braid and a 6-pound P-Line fluorocarbon leader for the TRD. He fished the Keitech on a Powell Endurance 721 with P-Line Spin-x braid and an 8-pound P-Line fluorocarbon leader.