Jesse Wiggins picked a tough tourney for his first tour-level win. Tough weather-wise and competition-wise, but not so much for him – because he felt right at home. Here’s what happened:
> “I’d never been there before, but by looking at pictures, videos [etc.] I knew that it looked similar to Smith Lake [AL] with all the floating docks and the mountain-type lake it is. So I just rigged up the stuff I always catch them on at my home lake [Smith Lake, AL].
> “The water temperature was 61-62…cleaner water, you could see beds everywhere. I got to fishing in little [areas]…couldn’t really see beds but know the fish are still spawning.
> “The fish set up on docks exactly the same as back home. They spawn on dock cables, the back corners of docks, walkways, whatever it may be. They set up identical to Smith Lake – not similar, I’m talking identical. But at Smith they’re spotted bass – [at Lake of the Ozarks] they’re all largemouth.
> “I figured it out the 2nd half of the 1st day of practice…exactly what I do at home. It wasn’t easy to catch 2+ lbers, but it was easy to catch fish. I knew the key was just finding some bigger ones…went looking for more areas. If I caught a decent-sized fish or some close to scoring, I [marked] that area….”
> “I had a few fish found on beds, 5-6 of them, and 2 were 4+ fish I caught the 1st day. Knowing where they were got me off to a good start.
> “The 2nd day I didn’t have any spawners, so I was just fishing like I do at home. I was just casting where I thought one should be laying.
> “I was close to the lead all day, and the winner automatically qualifies for the championship [round]. So then I was like, Heck I’m going for it. …they were biting, so I went ahead and won, and automatically qualified.
> “I knew that when I allowed my fish, my areas, to rest for 2 days, I knew I could go back and catch them, and I knew more fish were coming. With my area resting for 2 days, I might have a chance at this thing.
> “[The last day] I went back in there and got it done. They weren’t biting great – the water had come up, it got dingier…affected everybody. Luckily was able to get it done.”
He used 1 rig, a shakey head, with 2 different weights:
> 6.6″ Jackall Flick Shake Worm bit down to 5″ (gp candy). “5 inches is the size of a normal stick bait. I like the Flick Shake because of the action the tail has. Green pumpkin – I just always throw it.”
> “3/16- and 1/8-oz shakey head – “If the docks were really shallow and I needed to skip it into tight places I used the 1/8 because it skips so much easier. If it was deeper dock, like 5-6′, I’d throw the 3/16. I had areas where there’d be 6 deeper docks in a row, then 5-6 shallow docks….”
> Boat positioning: “I would make sure that when I made a cast, if I threw it over a cable I was able to get to it quickly. Sometimes I would stay back to skip it under a cable…stay back to where the angle of line would not hit a cable when I set the hook straight up.”
> “With Lowrance C-Map mapping I could look at the pockets and could see where the contour lines hung tight to the pockets. …always at the deepest part of the back of pockets – that’s where they spawn at home too. There’s a pile of fish that spawn where you can’t see ’em. That’s what I looked for.
> “I didn’t catch a single fish off Active Target all week.”
> “MTech Lithium, my trolling moror batteries. I had it on 10 all week, weaving in and out of boat docks, and my trolling motor performed flawlessly. I had that sucker burning up every day – I fished for 2 days of practice and 3 days of the tournament on 10, and they did great.”