Winning Baits

How Joey Cifuentes won the St Clair Elite

Who is Joey Cifuentes really and what in tarnation is he doing?? Well how ’bout 2 wins (so far) on his rookie year and, not really a surprise, he’s leading the Rookie of the Year race (and is 6th in AOY points).

He won the Seminole Elite dropshotting a Roboworm – not exactly a typical winning deal at that lake. Just his 2nd Elite tourney. Then he had a bomb, some decent finishes, a top 20, a top 10 and now his 2nd win of the season at St Clair. Crazy! Here’s how he won this one.

Going in and practice

> “I was excited to go to St Clair. I’ve fished there a couple times and know kinda what to look for on the lake. I had expectations I could find the right fish to win the tournament.

> “It took me til the last day of practice to find this one spot. I was running and saw good grass on my 2D, stopped and caught the best-quality fish caught in practice. I expanded a little on it…caught another big one.

> “…quality was good but it would be tough to find them because they were kinda scattered out. I thought it had potential, but I didn’t know if it was going to last.

> “…18′ of water…maybe about 100-150 yard stretch of cabbage. When I varied off that, it got worse. …other grass was mixed in on the bottom. I never got to look at it with the camera….

> “It had a lot of bait on it, a lot of perch. I feel like those big smallmouth love to eat those perch.”


> “I had 22 the 1st day and thought that was great. It was definitely a good start. …I ran to that spot and stayed there all day. The weather was good…. All I was doing was dropshotting. That was the only thing I caught my fish on….

> “Day 2 I went straight to that spot and stayed there most of the day. I had a pretty good bag [he ended up with 24-00]…. When I came back [closer to the ramp], I pulled in…kinda near where Taku Ito was fishing but a lot of guys were fishing there in Anchor Bay. I culled a 4 with a 4.5-lber.

> “Day 3 we had bad wind. I went [to his spot] but it was rough and got worse. I could not fish effectively with the sonar coming out the water all the time, and I couldn’t use my Paddles effectively because I had water dumping in the back of my boat. It was very difficult, but I still managed to stay there to fish almost all day.

> “I left a little early with 21-something. I tried to fish around the ramp a little, but didn’t do anything….

> “Day 4 the weather couldn’t have been any better. The key was – and I knew this going in – was Anchor Bay…was like being in a washing machine out there…the rough water the guys had to deal with because of all the boat traffic.

> “I really took that into consideration. I wanted to find a spot in Canada because I knew going into the weekend that if I found something in Anchor Bay, it would be difficult to fish. It’s a mess on the weekend.

> “When I got to my spot [in Canada] it was perfect. It was cloudy at first, a little bit of wind, but I still got my bites. I just went slow and used my LiveScope effectively to catch ’em.


> Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm (brown back). “The reason I like [that color at St Clair] is they seem to eat more shad and stuff there. Maybe they’re not shad [but they have that same baitfish color]. That white or shad color usually excels on St Clair, in my history. White/brown back looks like a baitfish.

> “I think they were eating perch [but it] seems a whiter color does well there. Me and my dad practiced there [years ago before an FLW] and caught ’em dragging a white tube. They can see it good.

> “Distance was key from my weight to my bait, to keep it above the grass. I used a little longer leader, about 2′.”

> Rest of the dropshot: #2 Berkley Fusion19 Drop Shot Hook, 1/4-oz tungsten weight (1/2 or 3/8 if windy), 10-lb Berkley X5 Braid (crystal) to 8-lb Berkley Trilene 100% Fluoro, Abu REVO SX Spinning Reel, 7′ M Abu Garcia Fantasista X Rod.

He pitched the dropshot right to the fish:

> “…as close and on top of them as possible. Most of the time they would eat it on the fall. And the rest would follow it down, nose down on it, and as soon as it hit the bottom they would eat it.”

He said he averaged about 10 keepers a day – he wasn’t on a spot with lots of fish:

> “I tried to catch everything…I was throwing at everything because there weren’t a lot of small fish there.”


He uses Garmin LiveScope and that was key but also:

> “The Lowrance – running around with 2D. I think Lowrance has a really good shoot through the hull transducer. You can run 40-45 mph and still…see grass.”


> “If I had lead acid batteries, my batteries woulda been dead or running low every day. The Millertech folks…I think they have a really high-quality [lithium] product. If I didn’t have that it would’ve been different.

> “My Phoenix…it’s the best-riding boat I’ve been in. Everyone who gets in it likes it.”

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