Winning Baits

How Luke Palmer won the Santee Cooper Elite

It’s not every day that a guy wins his first blue trophy by 14 lbs. In fact, not sure it’s ever been done before, especially in a “grind ’em out” tourney. Yep Santee was a grind – Luke was the only guy who weighed a limit all 4 days. Crazy! Here’s how it went down.

Going in and practice

> “I was thinking it was going to be very similar to how it was last year except we didn’t have the extreme cold [this time], but we did have some cool weather during practice.

> “I was really expecting to find the shad spawn. I tried every morning of practice but never found it. And there’s tons more grass than what was there last year.

> “I couldn’t get bit flipping trees or throwing a wacky worm or whatever. I wasn’t Scoping fish at all. I was kind of depressed really.

> “…thought [the best thing he had going was] a Chatterbait in the grass. That was my gameplan for the first day.”


> “I lost my first 5 fish on a buzzbait…a 7, 8…. I was like ‘You gotta be kidding me.’

> “By 1:30 I had no fish in the box [Chatterbaiting]. I happened to go up to a tree, saw 2 fish on it [Scoping] and caught both of them. But I kept running the grass. Then I went to a tree where I did have a bite [in practice] and caught a 7.5, a 3 and a 4 off that same tree.

> “Day 2 I did Chatterbait eelgrass in the morning, thinking if I can get bit doing this that will be a bonus. I did catch one on a jerkbait [on] some piles I caught 1 on on a Chatterbait…. Other than that I almost solely flipped trees. I found a few key trees with multiple fish on them that day.

> “Day 3 I caught a big one early on a bed I’d seen before, then I caught a good one – a  5+ – on a jerkbait. Then everything else was back to the trees [including on day 4].

> “A lot of tree fish were spawning. You had to find the sweet spot on the tree, and every one of them would come off that one spot. I’m 90% sure it was a bed. It was [at] the base of the tree.

> “I couldn’t get dialed in on what exact [type of] tree…deeper trees [3-3.5′] were better for me. I thought it was trees with grass around them with a void, but 3 trees I caught ’em off didn’t have a lick of grass. I don’t know if there was different bottom hardness….

> “It was kind of random really…[fish] enough trees to run into the right ones.”


> Main bait: YUM Wooly Bug (virgo red), 3/0 straight shank flippin hook, 3/16-5/16 oz Rougarou Tungsten Weight, 20-lb Sunline Shooter fluoro, high-speed reel, 7′ 3″ XH Falcon Cara Amistad Rod.

YUM says that color is a black and smoke laminate – the smoke side has a lot of red glitter, and the black side has blue glitter but less of it and it’s smaller-sized. Sounds kinda like a “black neon” but different.

> Luke: “It’s got blue flake and red flake, which kinda gives me the best of both worlds in that water color [which was] kinda clearing but a brownish color”

Looks like right now you can only find that color on

He also flipped a discontinued YUM Bad Mamma:

> “I’ve caught ’em on it every year. They might have to bring it back for me now. It’s the only thing I like to [flip] besides a Wooly Bug.”


> He said he was just “regular Scoping,” meaning not perspective mode, looking for fish and also watching them bite here and there – but “mainly a locator.” Even if he didn’t see any he “would still flip the trees – you can still miss [seeing] ’em on LiveScope.”

> “The main thing other than LiveScope was Power-Poles. I had to have those or I would not have won. I spent 30-45 minutes on a certain tree. I spent 30 minutes on my big fish on day 3. I’d seen her the day before, then day 3 kept I kept pitching to one knee. I finally repositioned the boat, and as soon as I did…it was over.”


> “Amped Outdoors lithium batteries…so much lighter. I’m able to get in shallower water, and it makes me more secure not having to worry about running out of power. I’m running 4 graphs on 1 battery and never have to worry about power issues.

> “Horizon Tracker and Marine [dealership]…definitely good to be in Phoenix and have that Huk raingear because it was bad the last day – 4, 5, 6-footers going across the lake….”

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