Brothers Jesse and Jordan Wiggins of Cullman, Alabama, made the final cut when they fished the second Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open of 2014 at Smith Lake. Jordan finished 4th; Jesse was 2 pounds behind in 6th place.
When they weighed their final day’s catch at Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, Alabama, they wore identical camouflage shirts. The only logo on the shirts was an official B.A.S.S. patch held in place with a safety pin.
With their trimmed beards and Carhartt ball caps, they looked like members of the Duck Dynasty clan that had been to the barbershop.
The camo shirts had nothing to do with making a statement.
“They’re just comfortable shirts,” Jesse said.
The only reason the Wiggins brothers signed on to fish the Smith Open is because it is their home water. They regard Smith Lake as a piece of heaven that’s practically in their backyard.
Jesse also entered all three Southern Open events for 2014 just in case he won at Smith Lake. Anyone that wins a Bassmaster Open and fishes all three tournaments in that division (Southern, Northern or Central) qualifies for the Bassmaster Classic.
Jesse ventured to the first Southern Open at Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga last January with low expectations. It was the first time he had fished outside Alabama. He nabbed 15th place by using an offbeat pattern for that lake.
“I was catching 30 to 40 bass a day on a shaky head worm 10 to 15 feet deep in a man-made ditch,” Jesse said.
Before the Tohopekaliga Open, Jesse had not given much thought to qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series. After Toho, he realized that he could possibly finish among the top five in the year-end point standings and earn an invitation to join the Elite pros.
When the points were tallied after the Smith Lake Open, Jesse found himself leading the Angler of the Year standings in the Southern Division.
“That’s crazy,” he said, when he heard the news. “I’m leading the points and I’ve got a B.A.S.S. patch pinned to my shirt.”
The final Southern Open this year bodes well for Jesse. It happens in October at North Carolina’s Lake Norman. The timing and the lake are right in Jesse’s wheelhouse.