Winning Baits

How Drew Benton won the Murray Bassmaster Elite

Congrats to him on his second Elite win – first one was 5 years ago on Lake Travis, TX. This win was interesting: When a bunch of guys catch ’em in a major tournament, usually it takes something special or different to win. But for Drew, that wasn’t really the case. Most of the fish he weighed were spawners, which lots of guys were on – but not necessarily right away. Here’s what went down.


> “I tried to do the herring spawn deal and point deal a little in practice. I think the weather conditions kind of messed that up for us the first couple days. I couldn’t make it work, my roommates couldn’t make it work. So I just started going up looking.

> “The first day of practice I could’ve had probably had 30 lbs off beds. So I spent the next 2 days just looking and marking fish.

> “What I learned was they were pulling up and doing their thing, and leaving really quick – a day or day and a half, tops. By the 3rd day of practice the big ones I saw were already gone…I had to find new ones.”


> “I found 5 [bigger ones] to start on the first day of the tournament, and out of those only 1 of them was still on the bed. [Another] one was about 20 yards away and I caught her on a wacky rig. So it was just a matter of hunting down new ones quick. I’ve never seen a place where they do their thing and leave so quick.

> “After 2 good days, on day 3 I was running low on fish. We had clouds and wind, I fished through some of the areas I’d been fishing and caught some I had marked. I really spent too much time on those fish because they were too small, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see later in the day. I should’ve put the trolling motor on high and not stopped til I found a good one.

> “The first 3 days…saw guys in the area, but most everybody in the tournament did the point thing in the morning. I didn’t have that figured out, so I just went to bed-fish. By the time they showed up [to bed-fish], I was done.”

He had 14 lbs the 3rd day:

> “I was in the bag line talking…Brock Mosley was telling me he saw a bunch of fish down towards the dam on riprap banks and points on the lower end, and thought the shad were spawning down there. We were taking off at 7 so the sun was already up and the shad spawn thing is kinda over quick, but he said the fish were still up there, he just couldn’t make them bite.

> “I didn’t have anything to do in the morning so I thought I would see if I could figure things out.

> “The first place I got to [on day 4], I had a Bagley Pro Sunny B squarebill tied on. I started fishing riprap and caught a 4.5 and a 4-lber – those 2 kinda got me going in the right direction.

> “I started figuring them out…relating to shade lines, Anywhere a tree cast just a little bit of shade on the bank, the fish were using that as cover to ambush the shad…or you had to have a more steep bank so you could have a little bit of shade line.

> “…narrowed it down to 3 different points that had shade on them…just bounced back and forth between those points, and every time I made a pass I would catch one.

> “I left outta there with two 5s, two 4.5s and a 4. It was about 11:40 – all the shade went away and I stopped getting any bites. I decided at that point I just needed to find one big one sight-fishing and that would give me a shot.

He ran back up sorta near where he’d been sight-fishing before:

> “I found a 6-lber on a bed, caught her at 1:30 and put the trolling motor on high again. About 20 minutes before I was due in, I threw a topwater…had big fish follow it out…pitched out and [caught] a 5-lber and culled one of those 4.5-lbers out. Thats what gave me 26.5….”


> Main bed-fish rig: Big Bite Fighting Frog (gp watermelon red laminate), 4/0 Owner Wide Gap Worm Hook, 3/16-oz Elite Tungsten Weight, 20-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro, 7′ 3″ XH Phenix MBX Rod.

> Dropshot: “Whenever I found [a sight fish] that was finicky, I had a dropshot rigged up. I caught that 6-lber on it the last day.” Big Bite Scentsation Cliff Hanger Worm (double purple), 1/0 Owner Cover Shot Hook, 3/16-oz Elite Tungsten Dropshot Weight, 15-lb Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green Braid to 10-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro, 7′ 1″ M Phenix Feather Series Rod.

> Bagley Pro Sunny B squarebill (olive shad), 15-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro, 7′ M Phenix X11 Cranking Rod.

> “3 other baits I weighed key fish on were 1 on a wacky-rigged Big Bite Scentsation Trick Stick (gp purple gold flake), 1 on a Vixen walking topwater (shad), and 1 on Scottsboro Line Through Swimbait (Mullins madness).

> Leupold Packout sunglasses: “People ask me all the time my take on lens color. For freshwater, any kind of amber- or copper-color lens is best, and Leupold makes a great copper-color lens that allowed me to see contrasts in the bottom real well.”

Electronics were not a factor.


> “I’ve run this PowerPole Move trolling motor for the first 3 events of the year, and I can say that it’s so quiet I can really get a lot closer to these fish on beds before they spook off. That allows me to see exactly what they are before they scoot off. In the past, with other brands of trolling motors, they hear you coming a lot sooner. It’s definitely an edge how quiet this trolling motor is.”

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