Winning Baits

How Zack Birge got his first red trophy at Eufaula, OK

If you heard that Zack knows that lake, he does. He fished it pretty often back in the day, but like happens with a lot of guys, once he started fishing nationally he barely fished it. Still, he knew one piece of info that ended up helping him win. Here’s how it went down.

Going in and practice

> “I really wasn’t sure it was something I’d be able to win or how it would play out. I had a good idea of what the fish would be doing…. They forecast a lot of rain coming so the water should rise – I was really hoping that was the case.

> “[The rain] made for some tough fishing for most of the week – how fast it came up and how dirty it got.

> “I used to fish it before I started before traveling on tour. I fished it quite a bit…I know it fairly well. I know where most tournaments get won…but it’s been a long time since I’ve fished it more than just a random occasion. I didn’t feel like I had an advantage over anybody else other than I might be able to make a decision [quicker].

> “I wanted it to be a flipping and frogging bushes tournament. I know it how it can be at Eufaula when the water gets in the bushes. It’s a phenomenal lake. It’s got tons and tons of fish in it.

> “It really didn’t show out this week. I really thought the bush game would be a lot stronger. The fact that the water came up as fast as it did and as dirty as it did really put a dent in that.”


> “Day 1 I fished right around the ramp area. I stayed pretty close, maybe only couple miles from takeoff. I caught a couple fish on a spinnerbait, a couple fish on a bladed jig, one on a shakey head and that was it. I had 7 bites and caught 5 of them. I wasn’t sitting too bad weight-wise but I knew I needed to…improve some.

> “Day 2 I decided to go down lake to fish stuff that I like and it ended up being a pretty good day…20 lbs of fish. I got inside the cut to make the Knockout Round. I pretty much just went down there and junk-fished [plus a] couple bed fish. Pretty much everything else was on a bladed jig.

> “Day 3 I did practically the exact same as day 2. I just cycled through a few new areas. I had a little bit tougher day, which is kind of what made me make the decision to stay close on day 4.

> “Day 4 as I was idling out I was telling my official, ‘Let’s go down and start on those 2 bed fish. I’ll catch them and then…see what [the day] brings us.’ …I looked over to the left where I fished on day 1 and thought, Man the water looks stable, it’s cleaner than it was, these fish gotta be biting.

> “I idled over, Poled down and really never cranked my engine the rest of the day. It was a really good decision…the best decision I made the whole tournament. I’m glad those fish started biting again. They decided to move up and started eating again, and I happened to be up there when they did. Every fish came on the frog or a bladed jig.

> The day 1 and day 4 spot – “It was a cove, Eufaula Cove, right by the takeoff. There’s just a really healthy population of fish that get released in there. They live in there – there’s all the habitat they need to stay in there too.

> “The first thing in the morning, the first hour, was a little bit of a shad spawn you could catch the tail end of. …looked like manicured park area that just had 4′ of water on it – flooded yard grass and some little bushes and stuff…. All those shad…so the bass were around it too.

> “As the morning went on, I left there and went…towards the back of the creek, where there’s more bushes and lot more flooded stuff. I ended up getting frog bites. The first bush, I moved frog one time and she crushed it. I got really excited and confident after that.

> “The down-lake spot on days 2 and 3 was a series of small pockets right off a main creek arm. I was looking for ones that were being overlooked by the majority of people. Little teeny tiny small pockets, intentions in the bank with a series of bushes or laydowns…. I ran as much as I could.”


> 3/8-oz Omega Rapture bladed jig (chart/white) with a 3″ Reaction Innovations Little Dipper (white), 30-lb Yo-Zuri SuperBraid, Ark G8 Reel (8.1), 6′ 11″ MHF Alpha Angler Power Skip Rod.

> Why the straight Yo-Zuri braid: “Because I was throwing it around bushes. Thin bushes weren’t a big deal, but when I got around that thick stuff if there was a hole, I was trying to put it in there. There’s so many 3-5 lb bass in that lake, I didn’t know when one would bite. I didn’t want to take a chance losing one – I knew every bite was important as tough as it was.”

> Toad Thumper Popping Frog (black), 60-lb Yo-Zuri SuperBraid, Ark G7 Reel (8.1), 7′ 3″ MHF Alpha Angler Zilla Rod.


> “…low-water satellite image…put it in my unit [Lowrance Pro 16] so could see the lake when it was down 6′. I could see a bunch of bushes and logs. I saw a guardrail I caught a couple fish off…

He never turned on FFS.


> “I feel like right now, the people that I work with build some of the best products in the industry. Power-Poles and the Power-Pole Move [troller]…Mercury and Blazer too. They’re all a big part of why I’m able to do what I do and have the success that I have.”

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