Winning Baits

How Adrian Avena got his first tour-level win at Cayuga

Cayuga, NY was a smash-fest, just like everyone on the Bass Pro Tour knew it would be. Guys were catching 40+ lbs in 2 days and not advancing. So how did Adrian catch more than everyone else to win it – in just his third time fishing the lake? Here we go!

Going in and practice

> “I was 100% committed to the smallmouth spawning deal. I spent $3,000 on a new trolling motor and got 2 more 36v trolling motor batteries literally for this event…

> “The only issue was that in practice we had terrible conditions. We had smoke, low light, wind – literally everything was against us. But when it comes down to it, it played into my favor.

>  “Historically, good sight-fishermen actually hunt them down during the tournament. Some of the best in the world, like Drew Benton who’s a good buddy of mine – all the big bags he catches sight fishing he literally finds the day of the tournament. …that’s what I did…with the conditions throughout the week I started to find more and more.

> “Coming into the event I thought that mid-lake was gonna be the area it was gonna go down at, but then what I realized was we had all this north wind so it was actually colder [water temp]. The south end the first day of practice was the warmest area of the lake, which is not normal for Caygua. Once I realized that, I devoted more time to the south end.

> “As the wind shifted, the water started to warm mid-lake and I ended up winning it there. I caught my weight earlier in the tournament down in the south end.

> “I caught 2 bass in practice – one the 1st day that was 2.75, and one the 2nd day that was 4.25. Literally those were the only 2 bass I laid my hands on the entire 2 days of practice. Outside of that I was just marking them. I had like 70 or 80 bass marked that I had to go revisit.”


> “The first 2 days of competition were all about me figuring out which ones were the 5+ lbers because those were the ones I really needed in this tournament.

> “Once I figured out what a 5 looked like vs what a 3 looked like, then I tried to expand on areas where I was finding the big ones. It seemed like the big ones were grouped up by size.

> “In practice nobody was down [south] doing it…then group A smashes them down there, then the whole field goes down there. …what I realized quickly was the bass they were finding were the ones on the bank that were easy to find. Once I realized that, I devoted all my time to flogging offshore. That’s what led me to winning the tournament. I was finding 6-lbers and the guys fishing the bank were catching 4-5 lbers.

> “The technique is no different than largemouth fishing. Every bass has a particular spot that it really wants to defend. Once I found that spot I needed to focus on, I’d get that bait in there….

> “…some bass you had to back way off and cast up to the area to where they were spawning…. Those big ones get educated so you gotta get way back.”

He was fishing in 8-12′:

> “Through the flogger you see everything. You watch them swallow the bait. When you’re casting to light spots…you don’t even see your bait.

> “You have 2 different types of bass. You have bass that will bite the bait to move it off the bed. Those bass are hooked in the mouth every single time. Then there’s the bass that bite it and blow it…those are the ones you will snag [unintentionally].”


> 4″ Berkley Gulp! Minnow (chartreuse and chart shad) – “The chartreuse color was definitely the best color that particular week. A lot of times when that water gets a little dirty, the chartreuse allows you to be able to see it really well down there. And smallmouths absolutely can’t resist chartreuse.

> “One of the main predators they need to fend off a bed is a perch, and of course perch have a lot of chartreuse, a lot of yellow….

> “I was fishing that on a 1/4-oz Ned head, a Berkley Half Head [jighead], and another one on a a dropshot with a really short leader, keeping it close to the bottom as if it was a perch.

> Why not MaxScent: “It actually doesn’t have that lime green, fluorescent green color. In MaxScent a lot of colors are dull. I wanted something really, really bright you could see really deep.”

> 7′ M Abu Fantasista Spin Rod, 30-size Abu Garcia Revo RKT [Rocket] Spin Reel, 10-lb Berkley X5 Braid (flame green) to 10-lb Berkley Trilene 100% Fluoro.

> Dropshot: 1/0 straight shank hook 4″ off the bottom, and 3/8-oz tungsten weight.

> More on the Revo RKT – “No doubt you can tell a difference [vs a regular retrieve spin reel]. A lot of times [flogging] you are either on your knees or on your stomach, in really awkward positions whenever you’re fishing. You have to set the hook and stand up – a lot of times you have to reel quick, and that reel with the fast gear ratio lets you be able to stay tight with the fish.

> “It’s a really good reel [for] when you’re making specific casts – spawn-fishing or panning around…[when you’re] worried about where that next cast is going to go.”


> “One of the main things for me was I installed a brand new trolling motor [Lowrance Ghost] before the event. I was running a 45″ or 47″ shaft all season, and for this event I put in a 52″ shaft. Other guys had done it in the past – it allowed me to keep my trolling motor in the water longer…the motor is not blowing out when you are spot-locked on a fish.

> “Other than that, my trails. Since we were covering so much water on the trolling motor, a lot of times I would start forgetting what I hit and what I didn’t hit. I labeled every day a different color so I knew where I was Friday vs Wedesday…what stuff I hit so I was being efficient.”

Forward-facing sonar didn’t play at all.


> “Miller Tech batteries definitely were a big key for me. I got a couple extra trolling motor batteries too because I knew what I was gonna end up doing. Plus summertime practice days being 16-17 hours long.”

> “Redfin Polarized [blue mirror Big Ships] – I was wearing their sunglasses. Finding those spawners, they were a big asset.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Gitcha Bassin' Fix

To Top