It's been awhile since B.A.S.S. held a top-level tournament on Bull Shoals. Seems the history-rich fishery has simply been forgotten in time along our travels to newfound tournament fisheries from Falcon Lake to Oneida.
Ron Shuffield won the last big B.A.S.S. derby here 21 years ago in 1991. And two years before, in October of 1989, career-long Quantum pro Gary Klein won with just 30-pounds over three days.
Klein outsmarted the stingy fishery 23 years ago with West Coast techniques in Bull Shoals' clear waters —exclusively with spinning tackle. In fact, he joked recently about the fact that even though he showed living legend Rick Clunn the pattern in practice that week, Clunn, like most southern pros, rejected the light line and "egg beater" reel regimen.
So history begs to know whether we might see a very rare spinning tackle-driven Elite Series win this week.
"Spinning tackle could be a factor today, especially if it slicks off under calm winds and sunny skies," said Marty Robinson, sporting his favorite Carhartt knit cap on a chilly morning at the Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock and Marina.
Terry "Big Show" Scroggins says there's no doubt spinning reels will play a role for successful anglers this week. "You're either gonna fish rock or you're gonna fish rock," joked the Toyota pro just prior to standing for the Star Spangled Banner.
"Weather will determine if the bass are on shallow rock, suspended or on deep rock," said Scroggins. "You might be catching them shallow one day on crankbaits and spinnerbaits, and then the weather changes and they'll shoot down the hill in a hurry to deeper rock. That's when shaky heads and drop-shots on spinning reels will be a factor," predicts Scroggins.
Robinson and Scroggins both agree spinning reels will be a factor, but neither was willing to say this event would be won with a spinning reel in hand.
However, the never bashful Gerald Swindle says no way will they spin to win. "Nope. The guy that wins this has to catch at least one 4-pounder each day, and I don't see that happening with spinning tackle over a four day event," said Swindle.
"There's a 15-inch minimum length limit on largemouth in this lake, and I don't see anybody catching a pile of bass bigger than 15-inches with spinning tackle," added Swindle, as he pulled a Quantum size 30 Energy Spinning reel from his rod locker, just in case.
"When Gary Klein won here with spinning tackle, the water was probably a lot cleaner. The only dude in this tournament that has even a remote chance to win with spinning tackle is Aaron Martens," said Swindle.
"And I say that because he's the only one willing to deadstick a drop shot over a branch in 70 feet of water for 64 seconds until one decides to bite."