Edwin Evers, first, 51-1
The Oklahoma pro led the Pride of Georgia tournament presented by Evan Williams Bourbon both Friday and Saturday — and caught the Purolator Big Bass (6-7 and 5-14) both days as well. He has relied on a brown half-ounce jig and a shaky head worm, and is fishing as many flat points and shoals as possible. He said he put $140 worth of gas in his boat Saturday night. When Evers does find bass busting baitfish on the surface, he has thrown a variety of topwater lures at them, but the other two lures have produced most of his fish.
Kenyon Hill, second, 49-14
A Carolina-rigged Zoom Trick Worm has been Hill's go-to bait; he's fishing it on a 7-6 American Rodsmiths rod and an Abu Garcia Revo 7.1:1 gear ratio reel, spooled with Berkley 20-pound test fluorocarbon line. He's using 12-pound test Berkley fluorocarbon on a 3-foot leader. A 3/4-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight used in conjunction with a Tru-Tungsten Force Bead are key components because of the sound they make when clicked together, Hill said. He has also used a Zoom Ol' Monster worm on the Carolina rig. Green pumpkin and Mardis Gras are the two colors he's used on the Zoom soft plastics. A chrome-colored Cordell Pencil Popper topwater lure has been Hill's second-best fish producer; he's throwing it on 30-pound test Spiderwire Ultracast line, so he can make long casts. Like almost everyone in the top 12, Hill is fishing flat points where blueback herring are spawning and post-spawn bass are feeding on them. He's caught fish as deep as 6 to 8 feet, but most of the bass are right on the bank, in less than 2 feet of water.
Davy Hite, third, 46-15
Just like he did when he won the Elite Series tournament on Clarks Hill Lake two years ago, Hite has relied primarily on a half-ounce, brown Buckeye Lures Mop Jig. He's using a Yamamoto green pumplin Flappin' Hawg soft plastic trailer on the jig. "Two years ago, I could get 20 bites a day on that jig," Hite said. "I'm only getting a couple of bites a day now, because the conditions are different. But when I get a bite, it's a good one." Hite has also used a variety of topwater lures — both when he sees surface feeding activity and occasionally just to see if he can call up a big bass on the flat points where they're feeding on spawning blueback herring. Hite said he's thrown everything from Zara Spooks to Pencil Poppers to Pop-Rs. Hite has also thrown a Yamamoto Senko some, when he's not casting the Mop Jig. "I think the herring are a little behind (schedule) this year for some reason," Hite said. "You're not seeing them just everywhere."
Peter Thliveros, fourth, 44-4
Like so many others, Peter T. is concentrating on flat points where largemouth bass are feeding on blueback herring. He's catching them on Carolina-rigged Zoom Trick Worms and Super Flukes and on a Cordell Pencil Popper topwater lure. On the soft plastics, green pumpkin and watermelon candy are his primary colors. Like Kenyon Hill, Thliveros thinks the combination of a Tru-Tungsten weight and Force Bead is important on the Carolina rig, "I really think that makes a lot of difference," Thliveros said. "It makes the right noise I guess." He's using 17-pound test Trilene fluorocarbon line on an Abu Garcia Revo reel and a 7-foot American Rodsmith rod for Carolina rigging. He's got 3 feet of 12-pound test Trilene fluorocarbon as a leader. "I'm fishing flat points with schoolers on them," Thliveros said.
Timmy Horton, fifth, 42-11
He's on the Clarks Hill Lake points pattern, too — relying primarily on a half-ounce football-head jig and a green pumpkin YUM Crawpappy trailer. When bass are pushing baitfish to the surface, he's casting a Heddon Zara Spook topwater lure or a swimbait into the schooling fish.
Casey Ashley, sixth, 42-4
The Donalds, S.C., pro said before the week started that he was going to throw nothing but topwater lures during this tournament and, according to him, he's stuck to that game plan. He's relying on three different topwater lures: a Heddon Super Spook, a Gibbs Pencil Popper and a Lucky Craft Gunfish. "I'm not trying to catch them when they're schooling," Ashley said. "I don't want them to school. I'm just trying to catch one. I'm using 50-pound braid, it's easier on my wrists. And with those big hooks and big barbs, when you get them, they don't come off."
Skeet Reese, seventh, 41-13
The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year defending champion has been using three baits all week — a Lucky Craft Sammy, a Big Mop jig and a (Berkely Powerbait) Hollow Belly swimbait. "I'm targeting points," Reese said. "I will find a group off one point, and if they aren't hitting, I'll leave and come back. I'll either catch one or see them blowing up."
Kevin VanDam, eighth, 41-10
The three-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year and best-known power fisherman on the Elite Series tour has relied on a Strike King King Shad to catch bass on Clarks Hill this week. Blueback herring aren't the only baitfish spawning here this week: Threadfin shad are going through a spawning period as well. "I'm fishing for bass on shad in the shad spawn," VanDam said. "I've been running points. Call it power-finesse. I'll have 10 rods out today, probably 15 by the end of the day."
Denny Brauer, ninth, 41-5
He's won over $2 million on the BASS tour and most of that money has been won with a jig. Naturally, Brauer is relying on a jig here this week. "I've been throwing a new Strike King 3/4-ounce football head jig in natural crawdad color," Brauer said. He's combining the jig with a new Strike King Rage Craw trailer in green. "I used it at Amistad, and I've caught most of my fish here on it," Brauer said. "I'm fishing rocky banks that have pretty good ledges or clay points. I'm covering a lot of water, fishing it fast; hit the bottom, move it 10 feet, and if I don't get hit then, reel it in and throw it again. A lot of them are hitting it on the fall — a lot of the big bass. I'm using 15-pound Seegar fluorocarbon in that clear water. I've also caught two fish on a Super Spook on schooling fish. I threw it into them and worked it back very fast."
Todd Faircloth, 10th, 40-15
He's coming off a win at Lake Amistad, when he moved from eighth place to first on the last day of the tournament. "The first day, I was fishing a dropshot around stumps," Faircloth said. "The second day, I ran points later in the day. Yesterday, I stayed on the points. I'm throwing a dropshot with a Yamamoto shad-shaped worm, baby bass in color with a 1/8-ounce dropshot weight, and I'm also throwing a Sebile Magic Swimmer — a jointed weight bait. I'm using 6 (pound test line) on the dropshot and 10- to 12-(pound test) with the Magic Swimmer. I've got a few fish on the points with a jig, too, an All-Terrain Tackle jig, just dragging it around."
Alton Jones, 10th, 40-15
The 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion is making a run at the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, too. He's one of eight Elite Series pros that have made the top 50 cut in all five tournaments this season. "I've got a couple of things going here," Jones said. "On schooling fish, there are brief windows of opportunity. Six or seven times a day, there will be a four- to five-minute flurry. I've used YUM's new Money Minnow swimbait, and if I can get that bait into them while they're on top or as they go down, half the time I can get a bite. And that's when the bigger fish are coming. That's when I've got my 3- or 4-pounders. Between flurries, I'll throw the dropshot. I caught a 4-pounder with a little YUM Houdini worm. I haven't found one color in particular, but watermelon red and green pumpkin — I'm kind of playing with colors."
Dave Smith, 12th, 40-12
The 62-year-old Del City, Okla., pro caught the big bass of the tournament so far (a 7-1) on Thursday, which helped propel him into Sunday's final. "I'm looking for those flat pockets that have small grass beds — an inside grass line. I'll look straight down into about 4 or 5 feet of water searching for those broken spots. I'm using Cabela's Finnese worm, red flake on Gamma fluorocarbon line and a 6-foot-6 medium heavy Cabela's rod so you can control and land them better. I'm using 8-pound test line, because it helps the performance of the lure."