For a full rundown of what winner Bryan Thrift fished and to see his baits, click here to see the winning pattern/baits post.
2nd: Alton Jones Jr
> Wacky rig: 5″ Yamamoto Senko (gp purple), weightless and a 1/32-oz nail weight “depending on how deep I was fishing. If it was cloudy, I’d always use a nail weight. If it was sunny, I’d do a lot of weightless….” #1 VMC RedLine Weedless Wacky Neko Hook.
> 15-lb Gamma Braid to 9-lb Gamma Touch Fluoro, Kistler Series 1 Spin Reel, 7′ M Kistler Z Bone Rod.
> “The fish were in 10 inches to 20′. I was LiveScoping fish in 2′ of water – it was just making me efficient.”
3rd: Edwin Evers
Fished a variety of baits, here are some of the main ones:
> New/not out yet Berkley Cullshad swimbait (light hitch), 20-lb Bass Pro Shops XPS fluoro, BPS Johnny Morris Platinum Reel (6.8), 7′ 3″ H BPS Crankin Stick.
> Wake bait (shad) and glide bait (shad). Wake bait: 25-lb BPS XPS Fluoro, BPS Johnny Morris Platinum Reel (8.3), 7′ 3″ H BPS CarbonLite Rod. Glide bait: BPS 50-lb braid to 14-lb mono leader, BPS Johnny Morris Platinum Reel (8.3), 6′ 9″ M Johnny Morris Platinum Rod.
> Main lake pockets, big creeks, points in the backs of creeks, “fishing what looks good, trying to stay in the wind.”
4th: Jacob Wheeler
> Neko rig: 5″ stick worm (baby bass and gp), 1/32 to 3/32-oz VMC Neko Weight, #2 VMC RedLine Neko Hook and Redline Weedless Neko Hook, 8-lb Sufix Nanobraid to 10-lb Sufix Advance Fluoro, Shimano Vanford Spin Reel (2500), 7′ M Duckett Jacob Wheeler Spin Rod.
> Hooks: “Weedless Neko around docks, brush…but it was more about cables or the edges of docks.” Line: “People think they have to match up their braid [with their leader]…lower or the same lb test. But the [braid] makes it cast well [and the heavier leader is better] around laydowns and stuff, around trees…. The knot is bigger and doesn’t go through the guides as well, but there are ways around that….”
> “A lot around docks, and offshore around rock – hard places, little points. A few fish on the bed….”
5th: Matt Lee
> Wacky rig: 5″ stick bait (gp purple), 5/64-oz nail weight, 1/0 Owner Sniper Hook, 15-lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid (flash green) to 12-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro, Quantum Smoke 30 Reel, 7′ 2″ Quantum Accurist Rod.
> Deps Slide Swimmer 175 (crappie), 20-lb Seaguar InvizX fluoro, Quantum HD Reel (6.6), 7′ 6″ Quantum Smoke Rod.
> “Every fish was in less than 6′. When I was covering water, I’d throw the glide bait around docks and stumps – most of my fish were on docks and stumps in that depth range. The first 2 days I caught some spawning, looking at them.
> “Before this event, I got [Lowrance] ActiveTarget 2…kept ActiveTarget 1 and…bought another Lowrance unit from my brother so I could run two. Day 2 when I was fishing stumps and the sun wasn’t up yet, I’d shoot across to see where they were at, and line them up on [the other] ActiveTarget to see where to fish. I had to fish really slowly.”
6th: Casey Ashley
> 1/8 and 3/16-oz Greenfish Casey Cleanup Shakey Head, Zoom Trick Worm (gp), Quantum Smoke S3 Spin Reel, 7′ MH Quantum Smoke Inshore Spin Rod.
> 1/2-oz Greenfish Skipping Jig (gp) with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk (gp), Quantum Smoke S3 Reel (7.3), 7′ 2″ MH Quantum Smoke Rod.
> “Docks 10′ or less, shallow points…see fish cruising down the banks, stop on these docks….”
7th: Dustin Connell
> Googan Baits Lunker Log (baby bass) on a Googan Wacky Hook. “Pitching the Lunker Log under floating docks in the backs of pockets.
> “I was catching spawning spotted bass on flats in 6-10′ with the shakey head.”
8th: Adrian Avena
> New/not yet out Berkley Cullshad swimbait with 2 1/16-oz nail weights, 20-lb Berkley Trilene 100% Fluoro, Abu Zenon X Reel (8.3), 7’ 3” H Abu Fantasista X Rod.
> Back sides of dock cat walks, and isolated wood on flats.
9th: Randy Howell
> Livingston Jerkmaster 121C (pro green). “Caught several key 3+ lb fish on it around spawning areas.
> Wacky rig: 5″ Yamamoto Senko (gp purple green), #1 Pro X Wacky Hook, 15-lb Daiwa Jbraid Grand to 12-lb Daiwa Jfluoro, 7′ 1″ MH Daiwa Tatula Elite Randy Howell Powerspin Rod. “Skipping under docks and sight-fishing, 3-7′ deep, mixed bag of spots and largemouth.”
10th: Ott DeFoe
> Wake bait (beat-up chrome), 30-lb Bass Pro Shops braid to a “finger-length” 17-lb XPS fluoro leader, BPS Johnny Morris Platinum Reel (6.8), 6′ 8″ M BPS Johnny Morris Signature Series Rod.
> “Morning backs of pockets, backs of cuts, some fish roaming. Afternoons you’d catch them off docks randomly, off a point randomly – eventually you’d connect with one.”
11th: Cody Meyer
> Neko and wacky rigs: 5″ Yamamoto Senko (baby bass), 1/16-oz First Contact Weight and also weightless, #1 Owner Sniper Finesse Hook.
> “10′ docks were better. If the last dock i the back of the pocket had 10′ of water, you could catch them on it…and the very backs of pockets.
> “I fished up shallow as well with glide baits and swimbaits. You’d see them follow it and [cast back] to them.”
12th: Jesse Wiggins
> Wacky rig: Jackall Flick Shake Worm (gp candy) weighed with a 1/2-oz Jackall Flick Shake Head, 20-lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid (stealth grey) to 10-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro, Quantum Smoke 30 Spin Reel, 7′ M St Croix Legend Xtreme Spin Rod.
> “3′ – the back of boat docks.
> “On the breakwall I caught them on a 3.8 Jackall Rhythm Wave swimbait (albino) with a 1/4-oz Owner Bullet Head. 10-40′ deep – they were stacked, most were in 25′.”
> Also fished a Jackall Bling 55 squarebill (dark craw).
13th: Dakota Ebare
> Wacky rig: 5″ Strike King Ocho (KVD magic), unweighted, #1 wacky hook, Lew’s Custom Lite Reel, 7′ M Lew’s Elite Series Rod.
> “…pre-spawn fish staging on docks. Some on a shakey head too, but the wacky worm just a great bait for targeting those pre-spawn fish sitting around those docks.”
> 12′ and shallower, some brush. “…just hitting stuff I could see with my eyes, occasionally I’d see one with electronics.”
14th: Jonathon VanDam
> Wacky rig: Googan Lunker Log (gp) and other stick worms (5″ and 7″) and an 8″ worm also rigged wacky “trying to get some of those bigger bites.” Unweighted, #4 fly tying hook (“it’s one you tie streamers for for fly fishing – it’s not as small as you think”), 15-lb braid to 12-lb leader, Shimano Exsence Reel, 7′ 1″ MH Favorite Hex Spin Rod.
> Fished docks “6′ to in the dirt. I didn’t really have a lot of deeper ones that played.”
> “I caught some on a swimbait, and I was bed-fishing a lot with the [VMC] Tokyo Rig with a Bandito Bug (gp – “I like natural [colors]”).”
> Tokyo rig: 3/0 VMC Tokyo Rig, 1/2-oz weight, 17-lb fluoro, 7′ 3″ H Favorite Rush Rod.
15th: Anthony Gagliardi
> 4.8 Keitech Fat swimbait (TX shad) fished line through, 14-lb Gamma Fluoro, 7′ 3″ H Level Rod.
> “I threw it around the ends of the docks. Most of the fish I caught were in 2-6′ – around docks and on some of the backs of the docks. I would also catch them on stumps that were on shallow bars between dredged docks.
> “I would look for some of the fish and stumps with LiveScope” [because the water was too clear to get near them].”
16th: Brent Ehrler
> Neko rig: 5″ Yamamaoto Senko (gp), 3/32-oz Ark Tungsten Nail Weight, #1 Gamakatsu G Finesse Wacky Weedless Hook, 12-lb Sunline Xplasma Braid to 8-lb Sunline Sniper, Daiwa Tatula LT Reel, 7′ 1″ Daiwa Tatula Elite Brent Ehrler Dropshot Rod.
> “Skipping docks and sight fishing. For docks, shallow was good. Largemouths were in the shallow backs of pockets, and spots were in main-lake pockets. Brush was key.
> “…on the first 2 days you could see under the docks on LiveScope, and I’d have to cast 2-3 times to them before I’d get them to bite. Some you wouldn’t know were there.”
18th: Jeremy Lawyer
> 1/8-oz Freedom Tackle Shakey Head, Zoom Finesse Worm (watermelon candy and gp), 16-lb Sunline SX1 Braid to 10-lb Sunline FC Sniper Fluoro, BPS Johnny Morris Signature Reel (3000), 7′ 4″ Denali Lithium Spin Rod.
> 6″ Megabass Magdraft swimbait (pearl), 20-lb Sunline FC Sniper, BPS Johnny Morris Signature Reel (6.8), 7′ 6″ Denali Lithium Rod.
> “Poles that held the boat docks in place in 10′ or less, and a few bedded fish. Magdraft was in the backs of spawning pockets around the sides of the docks in 5′ or less.”
19th: Fletcher Shryock
> Yamamoto Sanshuo (modified), Texas-rigged with a 5/0 Trokar Monster Flip Hook and 3/8-oz weight.
> 3/8-oz Buckeye Ballin Out Jig with a Yamamoto Flappin Hog.
> Bill Lewis MR-6 crankbait (green gizzard).
20th: Andy Montgomery
> 1/2-oz Strike King Skipping Jig with a Strike King Rage Bug (gp).
> 1/2-oz Strike King Tungsten Casting Jig with a Strike King Baby Rage Bug (gp).
> Both with 20-lb Strike King Contra Fluoro, Lew’s Pro SP Skipping Reel and 7′ 1″ H Lew’s Team Signature Andy Montgomery Skipping Rod.
> “Boat docks, boat docks and more boat docks.”