Sunday Reese had Perch Creek to himself. But he didn't start there.
"I mainly wanted to just put the trolling motor down and fish, because it was the first time we've had sun since Tuesday," Reese said. "I was hoping the sun would position the fish like it did on Tuesday. Fortunately, it did.
"My first two fish in the morning I caught on a Lucky Craft LV 100 (lipless crankbait), just fishing little shallow flats in the back of ditches."
He was trying to take advantage of the shad spawn. The LV100 matched the hatch of the small shad that bass were feeding on.
"It's my confidence bait," Reese said. "Then I picked up a drop shot and a 4-inch smoke/purple Havoc Bottom Hopper, and I caught some keepers. Then I went quite awhile without a bite."
It was in a two-hour window – from about 1 to 3 p.m. – when Reese started fishing shallow pockets under overhanging trees, where bass were guarding recently-hatched fry. That's where he caught several 3-pounders that would end up comprising his five-bass bag of 3-pounders in his 15-4 total.
Reese was using his signature 6-foot, 8-inch shaky head/Senko rod and a prototype carbon fiber spinning reel (not on the market yet) spooled with 12-pound test Berkley Nanofil line attached to a 2-foot Berkley fluorocarbon leader. The key lure was "a weightless worm," in other words, a Senko-type bait. Green-pumpkin was his color of choice, but anything in a bluegill color pattern would have worked, Reese said.
The word got out that Reese was catching them, and he attracted quite a crowd of boating observers in the back of Perch Creek before he finished the day there. He never did entice the 5-pounder that had toyed with him all week in this spot, but he didn't need to, as it turned out.
The second-biggest bag Sunday was Martens' 11-12, and only four of the Final 12 had double-digit weights.
With the victory and the $100,000 check that goes with it, Reese is now qualified for the 2014 Classic at Alabama's Lake Guntersville. That was the site of his last Elite Series win in May 2010.
But Reese has his sights set on another goal. He won the Classic in 2009. Reese won the Toyota Angler of the Year title in 2007, and earned but didn't receive another AOY title when the method for determining the champion was tinkered with one year. It's AOY that drives Reese.
"I fish for one title and that's Angler of the Year," he said on stage Sunday. "To get the (AOY) points out of this, that was the most important thing."
Reese is now third in the AOY standings, only 14 points behind leader Edwin Evers. Most importantly, it appears Reese has earned his way back to being one of the superstars of the bass fishing world.