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March 28th

March 28th

Author: Brady Harp


It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the fishing industry. The two tournament-scene juggernauts, Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S., both hosted their championship events within five days of eachother! Major League Fishing’s Redcrest Championship took place on Lay Lake in Alabama, while B.A.S.S.’s Bassmaster Classic was located on the shores of Grand Lake in Oklahoma. Both tournaments featured an onslaught of hungry prespawn bass and offered a diverse array of methods to target fish that are gearing up to spawn.

The inception of live coverage has done wonders for the sport. What once was a mystery as to what separated the pro’s from weekend anglers has now become a spectacle for all to see in real time coverage befit with commentary and onsight analysis. The sport is evolving for the better. Everyone is allotted the opportunity to observe and learn how a professional angler conducts themselves and puts forth a plan to be successful. Unfortunately, without the right equipment, it doesn’t matter how much information you learn from watching the pro’s-- you’ll struggle to land fish. So today, we’re breaking down both championship’s winning ways and what equipment would suit each technique.


Dustin Connell put on a clinic of current-centric Coosa River spotted bass. Unlike most breeds of spotted bass, these current-dependent specimens are both hyper-aggressive and conditioned to dirtier water than most spotted bass fisheries across the country. Dustin won the event by both ‘scopin fish suspended around bait at the mouths of spawning bays and fishing current seams with a scrounger head. I detailed the ‘scopin technique at length in my January blog, so be sure to read that if you haven’t. Regarding the scrounger in the current bite, you need a rod that will allow you to feel the vibrations of the bait but be stout enough for the beefier hook that accompanies most scrounger heads. My go-to rod for this is the CastAway Crankin’ Series Medium Heavy Casting Rod (CC-72MH). This rod is a fantastic bladed jig rod, and it serves the same purpose with a scrounger. A lighter rod than this would be too flimsy to set the hook or cast the 1⁄2 oz - 1 oz baits. Any stiffer and you’d struggle to feel the bait wiggle. This sweet spot exacerbates the best parts of the scrounger and gives you the best chance at success fishing current. Go find some seams, eddies, and breaks within current and hold on!

The Classic

Justin Hamner won this event wire-to-wire with no two days being the same. He, too, was targeting prespawn bass that hadn’t quite made it to their spawning grounds, yet these were relating to wood. Some, farther along than others, were staging on brush piles on flats in 4 - 8 feet of water. Others were on laydowns related to channel-swing bluff walls that were just making their way into the shallower creeks. Hamner relied on both a jerkbait (detailed in the February article) and a jig. The diversity that exists across the country for an event to be won with spotted bass on a spinning rod one week then largemouth out of wood the next week is phenomenal! Hamner’s jig bite was fairly straightforward-- if fishing a laydown, he would fish all parts of the tree, making sure to stay far enough off of it so as not to spook the fish, as fishing pressure rose throughout the event. If fishing a brushpile, he’d take multiple casts to the heart of the wood until what he believed to be a bass would bite. This is the kind of old-school fishing the industry has been clamoring for. Setup wise, a good jig rod has to be stiff with a fast tip for quick hooksets. CastAway’s Skeleton Nano Mag Heavy Rod (SKN7H) checks both of these boxes. You need equipment that’s going to be durable and strong enough to wrestle fish out of cover but lightweight

enough that you aren’t going to break your wrist flipping with it all day. That’s the beauty of the Nano series-- these rods are lightweight! Your older self will thank you for it!

Now that we’ve recapped how the championships were won from an equipment standpoint, I hope you can put these techniques to use in a way that will maximize your success on the water. Good luck!