Here’s all what all 52 competitors in the Hartwell Bassmaster Classic fished. But first a few things that jumped out at me:
> Most popular vibrating jig was by far the Z-Man/Evergreen Jack Hammer, whether the fishermen could say it or not. Word is the haygrass would shut down other vibrating jigs but not the Jack Hammer.
> Often-used hook that some guys mentioned, others didn’t/couldn’t, was the VMC Neko Hook.
> Most popular spinnerbait was War Eagle.
> Senko-type stick worms were the most popular plastic.
> Everyone fished fluorocarbon line.
> Jacob Wheeler fished a dang buzzbait in 50s-degree water…and caught ’em!
> Mark Daniels Jr. fished a #6 hook — that’s a worms-for-bluegills size hook. That’s what he caught the 6-11 on….
> Opens winner Stanley Sypeck Jr fished a Gan Craft Magnum 230 swimbait (glide bait) — a 9″ bait! Believe that’s a Classic record. Asked him why he chose that bait: “They were eating it” in practice.
Conditions were conditions that changed every day, water temps that fluctuated wildly, and fish between the pre-spawn and the spawn.
All the baits and patterns
1. Jordan Lee
Full rundown of J-Lee’s baits and pattern is here, in the BassBlaster winning pattern post.
2. Brent Ehrler
Main pattern was fishing main lake points and drains in pockets in 20-30′ with a swimbait. Had 3 baits he rotated through to get bites on key areas: swimbait (rigged 2 ways) to jig to nail rig.
> 1/2-oz Super Fish Pro Underspin with 3 different swimbaits: 3.5″ Yamamoto Swimbait (bright white/silver flake), 4″ Swim Senko (same color), 4″ ribbed swimbait (white). 7′ 3″ MH signature Daiwa Tatula Elite Series multi-purpose rod, Daiwa Steez A Reel, 12-lb Sunline Sniper fluoro.
> 3/4-oz Boss Football Jig (br) with a 5″ Yamamoto Double Tail Grub (gp), Daiwa Tatula Elite Series Ish Monroe Frog Rod, Steez A Reel, 16-lb Sunline FC Sniper fluoro. Several times, after the swimbaits wouldn’t work, he’d throw the jig out and get bit on the first cast.
> Drop bait (day 3, same areas): Senko (gp) wacky-rigged with a 3/32-oz Eagle Claw nail weight and #1 Gamakatsu B10 S Stinger Hook, 7′ 1″ M signature Daiwa Tatula Elite dropshot rod, Daiwa Exist reel (3000), 12-lb Sunline PEx8 braid to 8-lb Sunline Sniper fluoro.
> He had to trigger the fish to bite. “Every time I’d change something I could get an extra bite. I’d go through the rotation, leave, then come back and go through the same rotation and eventually could get them to bite. Once I’d trigger them, I’d catch 2-3 really fast then they’d go dark.
> Like Jordan Lee, he used a HydroWave: “The first 2 days I didn’t realize it had a blueback herring setting…I saw it on the final day and felt it helped for sure. I got more bites with it.
> “The Lakemaster chip from Humminbird…there’s something specific I was looking for, and when I found it I could duplicate it on different parts of the lake. With the Lakemaster chip, I could find it, drive right to it and catch a fish on my first cast.”
3. Jason Christie
Fished grass and docks in the backs of pockets. Main bait was a 1/2-oz prototype BOOYAH Spinnerbait (chart/white with a single Colorado) and YUM Pulse swimbait (white). 6′ 10″ MH Falcon Cara Rod, Lew’s Team Pro Magnesium Reel (7.5), 22-lb Sunline fluoro. Also fished a not-yet-released BOOYAH vibrating jig and another unnamed one, both 1/2-oz white.
4. Matt Lee
Mostly fished deep (20-30′) mid-lake, also around docks in the lower end with “dog fennel” (flooded bank grass). Best bait was a 4″ Strike King Ocho (candy craw) with a 3/32-oz nail weight, #1 Owner Straight Shank Hook, 7′ 2″ M Quantum Smoke S3 Rod, Smoke S3 Reel (30 series), 15-lb Seaguar Smackdown braid, 8- and 12-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro.
5. Jacob Powroznik
Wacky-rigged from 1′ to 40′ — shallow docks and clean spots deep. V&M Chopstick (gp), #1 Mustad TitanX Wacky/Neko Hook, nail weight out deep, 7′ 4″ M Quantum Prism Spinning Rod, Quantum Smoke S3 Reel (30), 10-lb Hi-Seas braid, 10-lb Hi-Seas fluoro.
6. Ott DeFoe
Fished colored water shallow with a 1/2-oz Z-Man BPS-exclusive vibrating jig (gp) with 2 trailers used randomly: BPS Sassy Sally boot-tail swimbait (gp/watermelon) and a BPS Bull Hog (gp). Weighed 2 on a 1/2-oz Terminator Double-Willow Spinnerbait (chart/white). All fished on a 7′ MH BPS CarbonLite Rod, CarbonLite Reel (7.5) and 17-lb BPS XPS fluoro. Half fish came from docks in 2-10′, and other half were in dog fennel in 2-5′.
7. Jacob Wheeler
Backs of pockets around grass with a 5/16-oz Accent signature Buzzbait (two colors: black and white), 17-lb Sufix Invisiline fluoro, Okuma Helios Reel (7.3), 7′ MH Okuma TCS Scott Martin rod. “I picked up a buzzbait because I’m a topwater freak, and every time I have a topwater in my hand I feel like I have a chance to win it.”
8. Casey Ashley
The local former Hartwell Classic champ fished shallow docks in pockets. “Really clear water — the fish were cruising.” Zoom Trick Worm (gp) on a new 1/8- and 3/16-oz Green Fish Tackle custom shakey head. 7′ M Quantum Smoke Inshore Spinning Rod (he likes the more-parabolic action of the inshore rod), Quantum Smoke S3 Reel, 10-lb Hi-Seas Grand Slam braid, 10-lb Hi-Seas fluoro leader.
9. Aaron Martens
Brushpiles and long shell points in the main lake and some bigger creeks. Keys were clear water and going slow: “The slower you go, the more they kind of come to you.” 4.5″ Roboworm Straight Tail Worm (Aaron’s magic and margarita mutilator), 3/16-oz Picasso Rhino head (“it’s different than any other shakey head”), 12-lb Sunline PEx8 braid to 10-lb Sunline Sniper fluoro, Shimano Stella Reel (2500), 6′ 11″ MH Enigma Aaron’s Edge Rod.
10. Gerald Swindle
Fished the mouths of creeks and the middle of short pockets, slow-rolling a 1/2-oz Evergreen Jackhammer (gp) with a 4″ Zoom Boot Tail Fluke (albino). 7′ 2″ MH Quantum GForce signature Rod, Quantum Smoke S3 Reel (6:1), 16-lb Sunline Shooter fluoro.
11. James Elam
Fished pockets with a 3/8-oz Molix Lover vibrating jig (baitfish) and a Molix RA Shad (white shad), also a different Chatterbait-style bait with the same trailer. Texas-rigged a Molix Sidus worm (b/b and gp depending on water color) and a lizard. Same rod, reel, 8.5 1, same line. 7′ 3″ MH McCain Carolina Magnum Rod, Shimano Metanium MGL (8.5 and 6.2 depending on the bait), 17-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro.
12. Edwin Evers
Channel swings with rock and a little bit of grass. Best bait was a wacky-rigged Zoom Fluke Stick (gp), #1 Mustad wacky hook, 6′ 6″ M BPS Patriot Spinning Rod, Johnny Morris Reel, 12-lb XPS braid to 10-lb XPS fluoro leader.
13. Cliff Pirch
14. Micah Frazier
Staging areas and spawning areas in pockets, around 2′. 1/2-oz War Eagle Gold Spinnerbait (chart/white, CO/IN blades) with a YUM Boogee Tail (white). 7′ MH Abu Villain Rod, Abu Revo STX Reel, 16-lb Sunline Sniper fluoro.
15. Mark Daniels Jr.
Neko-rigged — fished deep around isolated brushpiles in the morning, and skipped shad docks in the afternoon. Used a Z-Man ZinkerZ (Senko-type, gp) with a 1/16 oz tungsten nail weight on a #6 (yep, bluegill-sized) O’Shaughnessy-bend hook. 7′ M Favorite Jack Hammer spinning rod, 2500 Cabela’s Verano reel, 15-lb Seaguar Smackdown braid to 8-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro.
16. Cliff Pace
Looked for baitfish on the ends of points in 35-50′. Neko-rigged a V&M Chopstick (watermelon candy red): 5/32-oz nail weight, 1/0 Mustad TitanX Wacky/Neko Hook, 6′ 10″ M TFO Pacemaker Rod, 20-lb Hi-Seas braid to 8-lb Hi-Seas fluoro.
17. Russ Lane
Flipped shallow docks way back in pockets with a Big Bite Baits Yomama (gp, chartreuse dyed tips). 3/0 Gamakatsu Finesse Heavy Cover Hook, 3/8-oz Hawg Tech tungsten weight, 20-lb Sunline Shooter fluoro, Daiwa Tatula HD Reel with Hawg Tech Carbon Fiber handle with Winn Grips, 7′ 2″ H Denali Kovert Lite Rod.
18. Seth Feider
Skipped the shady areas around floating docks with a BioSpawn ExoStick (Feider shad). #2 VMC Neko Hook (I think my notes say weighted with Storm SuspenStrips), 6′ 10″ M XF Daiwa Tatula Elite Rod, Daiwa Exist Reel (3000), 8-lb Sufix Invisiline fluoro.
19. Mike McClelland
Underspin with a small blade, 3.5″ Cabela’s signature Swimmer swimbait (disco magic), 7′ 2″ MH signature Falcon rod, Cabela’s Arachnid reel (6.3), 10-lb Sunline Shooter fluoro. Fished main lake points near drains, pockets and secondary points.
20. John Cox
Texas-rigged (“with a little weight”) a Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General (baby bass), threw it at “everything” — mostly in pockets but up creeks too. 7′ M SJ 842 MHX custom-built rod, Abu MGX Premier Reel, 10-lb Berkley Fireline with 10-lb Berkley 100% fluoro, #1 Berkley Finesse Wide Gap hook.
21. Brandon Coulter
Targeted steep drops/edges on deep humps and points (30-40′) with 3 baits. 1) Neko-rigged 13 Fishing not-yet-released Fluke-style bait (pro blue) rigged with a Mustad TitanX Wacky/Neko Rig Hook, 6-lb Gamma fluoro, 7′ 3″ M 13 Fishing Omen Black Spinning Rod. 2) 13 Fishing not-yet-released paddletail swimbait (green shad) on a 6th Sense Swimbait Head, 7′ 3″ M 13 Fishing Omen Black Rod, 13 Fishing Concept Z Reel (6.6), 10-lb Gamma fluoro. 3) Ned rig (gp) on a 7′ 1″ ML Omen Black Spinning Rod and 6-lb Gamma fluoro.
22. Brandon Palaniuk
Submerged grass in the backs of bays adjacent to creek channels and ditches. 3/8-oz Z-Man/Evergreen Jack Hammer (Bhite delight) with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper (gp chart), Alpha Angler Rebound Rod, Daiwa Steez A Reel (7:1), 15-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro.
23. Dustin Connell
Deep brush (25′) just inside pockets and in little bays. Netbait Little Spanky swimbait (sexy shad), 1/2-oz 6th Sense Swimbait Head, 7′ 1″ H Phenix Feather Rod, Shimano Metanium Reel tuned by ZPI Japan (“I have the baddest reels ever — I can cast that bait 60 yards”), 12-lb fluoro.
24. Mark Davis
Caught winter-pattern bass deep on points (35-40′) with a 3/4-oz Strike King Football Jig (gp craw) and Strike King Rage Bug (gp). 7′ 11″ Lew’s Custom Pro Series Magnum Casting Rod, Lew’s Magnesium Reel (6.4). Also skipped a Strike King Ocho (double header) under docks in shallow pockets. 7′ MH Lew’s Custom Pro Series Spinning Rod, Lew’s Speed Spin Gold 3000, 20-lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid to 10-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro.
25. Jason Williamson
26. Randy Howell
Cranked rocky banks with a Livingston Howeller (Guntersville craw), and fished grass and docks with a Senko (gp purple copper) and a Jack Hammer (Bhite delight) with a Yamamoto Zako (zako color). Crank gear: 7′ ML signature Daiwa Tatula Elite Rod, Daiwa Tatula SV Reel (7.3), 12-lb Gamma fluoro. Chatterbait gear: 7′ 4″ MH signature Daiwa Tatula Elite, Tatula SV Reel (6.3), 20-lb Gamma fluoro.
27. Brandon Lester
28. Josh Bertrand
Fished offshore points and humps, mid to lower lake with a Neko-rigged Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General (gp). 1/0 Berkley Fusion 19 Drop Shot Hook, 3/32-oz nail weight, 7′ MH Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier Spinning Rod, Abu Premier Spinning Reel, 8-lb Berkley Nanofil with 8-lb Berkley 100% Fluoro leader.
29. Kevin VanDam
Fished Strike King 5XD and 6XD cranks (mostly sexy blue back herring but also pro blue) on main lake points on the lower end. 7′ 10″ Quantum Tour KVD cranking rod, Quantum Smoke 200 5.3 reel, 12-lb BPS XPS fluoro.
30. Jamie Hartman
Fished the same shakey head in 5′ to 30′: “I could consistently get bit on it so I had the confidence to keep it in my hand and throw it.” 1/4-oz Riot Baits Fidget shakey head, prototype Riot Baits shakey worm (gp), 7′ MH spinning rod, 10-lb Hi-Seas braid to 10-lb Hi-Seas fluoro.
31. John Crews
Mostly main lake points in 24-32′, some with brush. Dropshotted a prototype 4″ Missile Baits Bomb Shot (gp). #1 Gamakatsu dropshot hook, 1/4-oz weight, 7′ 4″ MH Cashion signature Dropshot Rod, Daiwa Tatula LT Reel, 12-lb Sunline SX1 braid to 7-lb Sunline Sniper fluoro.
32. Luke Clausen
In the morning threw a jerkbait across the tops of humps: DUEL Yo-Zuri Hardcore Minnow Flat 110 jerkbait (pro blue), Phenix Crankbait X Rod, Shimano Curado K (6.2), 10-lb Yo-Zuri Hybrid line. Most of the day dropped and cast on the inside line of standing timber with 1/4-oz signature Dirty Jigs Shakey Head and Z-Man FattyZ stick worm (gp), 7′ 1″ H Phenix Feather Rod, Shimano Stradic Ci4 (2000), 10-lb Yo-Zuri Superbraid to 10-lb Yo-Zuri Top Knot fluoro. Also skipped some docks with the FattyZ in afternoons.
33. Hank Cherry
Day 1 he jerked his Livingston Cherry Picker (chartreuse shad) with a 6′ 10″ M Abu Villain Rod, Abu Revo STX Reel and 12-lb Berkley 100% Fluoro. Day 2 he bed-fished with a 1/2-oz V&M Jig (br/orange) with a prototype V&M trailer (gp), 7′ 6″ H Abu Premier Rod, Abu Revo STX Reel (8:1) STX, 20-lb Berkley 100% fluoro.
34. Steve Kennedy
He “thinks” (lol Kennedy cracks me up) he fished a 3/8-oz underspin with a Zoom Fluke (white), 6.5′ MH rod, 15-lb braid and 10-lb fluoro leader. He went upriver, fished in 6-12′, “no structure other than a ditch.”
35. Greg Hackney
Dragged a jig on deep main lake points and humps. On the sweet spots he hopped the jig. 3/4- and 1-oz Strike King Structure Jig (pb bug and blue craw) with a Strike King Rage Craw (junebug on pb bug, and gp/blue flake). 7′ 10 MH or H Quantum Tour PT Rods (real deep he used the H rod to hop the jig), Quantum Smoke S3 Reel, 16-lb Gamma fluoro. Made long casts.
36. Ryan Butler
Back of shallow pockets in 2-4′ with 3/8-oz War Eagle Double-Willow Spinnerbaits (coleslaw, herring, blue shad — gold/silver willows), no trailer but red trailer hooks. 7′ MH Denali Lithium Worm/Jig Rod, Lew’s Super Duty Reel, 16-lb Sunline Sniper fluoro.
37. Todd Faircloth
Skipped floating docks, shallower docks better. 1/2-oz Strike King Structure Jig (brown) with a Strike King Rodent (gp), 7′ 3″ MH Castaway Triple Threat signature Rod, Shimano reel, 20-lb Sunline Shooter fluoro. Kept the jig on the bottom.
38. Mike Iaconelli
39. Jacob Foutz
Flipped the backs of pockets that had flooded grass. 3.5″ Vertical Lures Tube X (gp), 3/0 Trokar Tube Hook, 1/4-oz tungsten weight, 20-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro, Shimano Chronarch MGL Reel (8.1), 7′ 5″ H G. Loomis GLX Rod.
40. Keith Combs
Pockets with off-colored water and flooded grass. Fished a 1/2-oz Strike King Pure Poison vibrating jig (chart/white) with a Strike King Blade Minnow (pearl). 7′ 2″ MH Shimano Zodias Rod, Shimano Curado K Reel, 20-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro.
41. David Walker
Fished 2 baits in the backs of creeks where bank grass was present 5′ or less: 3/8-oz Z-Man Project Z Chatterbait (pearl ghost) with a Razor Shadz (pearl), and a 3/8 oz Z-Man Cross Eyez Flipping Jig with a Turbo Crawz (both gp).
42. Alton Jones
2 patterns. First was a brushpile out in front of a dock in 12-13′ he got 4 fish out of (from 3-00 to 5-04). 1/2-oz BOOYAH Boo Jig (b/b) and 3.25″ YUM Chunk (black). Other was slow-rolling the outside edge of dog fennel with a 5″ YUM Money Minnow (fog light) on an Owner Weighted Beast Hook — “in practice they smoked it but in the tournament they’d just follow it.” Both: 6′ 9″ MH Kistler Z Bone, 30-lb braid, 20-lb fluoro leader.
43. Bobby Lane
Fished the backs of pockets. Pockets without brush he’d use a 1/8- and 1/4-oz 4×4 Shakey Head, Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General (gp party), 7′ MH Abu Premier Rod, Abu STX Premier Reel, 10-lb Spiderwire braid to 12-lb Berkley 100% fluoro. Pockets with brush the plastic would hang too much so he used a 7/16-oz 4×4 Casting Jig (battle bream) with a MaxScent Meaty Chunk (gp), 7′ Premier MH Reel, Revo MGX reel, 15-lb 100% fluoro.
44. Bradley Roy
Grass and docks in pockets with 2 baits: 3/8-oz D&L Advantage Jig (gp/br) with a gp chunk, 7′ 2″ H MHX NEPS Rod, 7:1 reel, 15-lb fluoro; 3/8-oz vibrating jig (white) with white swimbait, 7′ 3″ MH MHX Rod, 6.4 reel, 15-lb fluoro.
45. Luke Gritter
46. Jesse Wiggins
Mornings he fished spotted bass on humps with brush: 1/4-oz jighead with a Zoom Trick Worm (gp), and a wacky-rigged 4″ Zoom Fluke Stick (gp purple). 7′ MH St. Croix Legend X Spinning Rod, 20-lb Seaguar Smackdown braid with 10-lb Seaguar AbrazX fluoro. Afternoons a 1/2-oz vibrating jig (gp) and Zoom Z Craw (gp) with a 7′ MH St. Croix Avid X Casting Rod, Shimano Chronarch, 15-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro.
47. Carl Svebek
Fished isolated scattered humps of hay grass in 4-6′. BPS Fin-Eke trick worm (gp) rigged wacky with a homemade weighed hook (lead solder). 6′ 9″ MH BPS Johnny Morris Rod, BPS Johnny Morris reel, 12-lb XPS fluoro.
48. Marty Giddens
49. Caleb Sumrall
6th Sense Provoke 106DD jerkbait (ghost pro shad) fished with a 6′ 10″ M Kistler Feel N Reel Rod (he likes the “real soft tip”) on 8-lb Hi-Seas fluoro. Fished main lake shoals, islands and points, and 2 points going back into the main creeks. Kept the boat in 12′ threw into 6′, 45’d the bank.
50. Rick Morris
1/2-oz War Eagle Heavy Finesse Jig (gp) with a Zoom Speed Craw (gp), 7′ 2″ M+ signature RPM X Spinning Rod, Lew’s spinning reel, 20-lb Gamma braid to 12-lb Gamma Edge fluoro. Fished it with little hops on main lake points that had a fast dropoff and a little wind/current.
51. Stanley Sypeck Jr
Fished shallow in pockets and the backs of creeks, with 2 baits: 1- and 3/4-oz Picasso Tungsten Football Jigs (Cumberland craw) with a Netbait Paca Chunk (gp), and a 9″ Gan Craft 230 swimbait/glide bait (shad). Dobyns rods, Quantum reels, 15-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro for the jig, 20-lb for the swimbait.
52. Skeet Reese
2 patterns. First was skipping the shady side of shallow docks in the backs of creeks with a 4″ Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait (blueback herring) on a 1/4-oz custom jighead with a Trokar jig hook, 7′ M Wright & McGill Skeet Reese Spinnerbait Rod, Skeet Reese Victory Reel (6.3), 15-lb Berkley 100% fluoro. Second was “just fishing” dirty water with a vibrating jig (gp), 4″ Berkley Havoc Sick Fish (green penny), same rod/reel/line.