Despite horrible weather on Thursday and Friday, the inaugural 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series event — the OPTIMA Batteries Battle on the Border on Lake Amistad — saw heavy weights and several heavy-weight bass. The three top finishers caught their bass on swimbaits and plastic stickbaits.
Here are the details:
(1st Place — 96 pounds, 6 ounces)
Jason Williamson of Aiken, S.C., caught 70 percent of his total weight on the last two days — including an 11-pound giant — from a spot he found in 2007, worked in 2008 when he finished fifth and fished tirelessly in 2009.
"I found the spot a couple of years ago," said the elated winner after his victory. "I anchored my boat in 20-25 feet of water and threw into trees that were standing in 15-18 feet of water near a couple of drainage ditches that offered ingress and egress to the bass.
"It was a natural holding and spawning area for big fish. The water's really clear here so it's not unusual for the bass to spawn that deep. It was mostly a matter of timing, catching them moving to and from their spawning areas.
"Obviously the sun helped me a lot the last couple of days. As the skies cleared and it started to burn down on the water, the fish would rise up into the trees where I could catch them with a big swimbait. The key was making repeated casts to each tree and keeping the bait at least 10 feet deep during the retrieve.
"It was really a matter of hard, but basic, fishing. I was fortunate that the weather played into my game plan. The spot didn't produce the first two days, but the better weather was there when I needed it.
"The lesson is not to give up on a good looking spot just because it doesn't produce when you first fish it. Some spots produce best under very specific weather conditions. This is one of them. It didn't give up anything worth catching when it was cloudy and overcast. But the minute the sun popped out it turned on. And I'm thankful for that."
Tackle: A 7-foot, 6-inch Falcon Cara rod (heavy action), a Revo STX reel (6.4:1 gear ratio), 25-pound-test McCoy Fluoro100 fishing line and an 8-inch Osprey swimbait in Dark Hitch.
(2nd Place — 87 pounds, 15 ounces)
Waco, Texas, pro Alton Jones stayed shallow and fished to his strengths to bag his bass in the 2009 OPTIMA Batteries Battle on the Border.
"I stayed with my pattern all week. Every fish I weighed in was caught on a 6-inch Yum Dinger," said the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion. "I was holding my boat steady with my Power-Pole and throwing into water that was 1-3 feet deep and full of heavy brush.
"I made repeated casts into the same brush and wood. Sometimes it would take two or three casts, sometimes a lot more than that. But the real key to my success was to make long casts and keep fishing.
"This water is so clear here that you have to reach way out to make them bite. If you get in too close, they'll run off. And sometimes you have to work with them to make them bite. By that I mean casting over and over to the same spot knowing the bass are there and knowing that they will eventually bite.
"Perseverance and confidence was what that this tournament was all about. You can't allow yourself to get discouraged if you don't get a bite on every cast. To be successful you have to keep your head down and keep at it, especially if you have a pattern that's been working for you in the past."
Tackle: A 7-foot Kistler Helium LTA rod (heavy action), an Ardent XS1000 reel (6.3:1 gear ratio), 50-pound-test PowerPro braid line with a 25-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and 6-inch Yum Dingers in green pumpkin with purple metal flake and watermelon candy.
(3rd Place — 76 pounds, 10 ounces)
Jared Lintner combined two consistent patterns across all four days to put his sack together.
"I was fishing a homemade swimbait — it's similar to an Osprey but made with softer plastic — against bluffs off and on during the tournament," said the Arroyo Grande, Calif., pro.
"I'd anchor in 80-100 feet of water off long running, deep points and cast into 12 feet of water. Then I simply cranked the bait down and out.
"My other pattern was shallow. I found a place in 13-19 feet of water with a sloping bottom that transitioned from pebble rock into a grassline. I fished it with a Texas rigged Senko, working it very slowly. Most of my bass came on the transition line.
"I think the key to my weight was to find two different patterns that produced and then switch back and forth between the two. I had many areas to fish; so when one didn't produce, I moved to another. I didn't get stuck in one kind of thinking. This is a tremendous fishery. There are several ways to catch big bass here."
Swimbait Tackle: An 8-foot Power Tackle rod (heavy), Revo Toro reel (6.4:1 gear ratio), 20-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line and a homemade swimbait.
Senko Tackle: 7-foot, 4-inch Power Tackle rod (medium heavy action), Revo Premier reel (6.4:1 gear ratio) 17- and 20-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line, a Tru-Tungsten weight, glass bead, 4/0 hook and a bunch of 6-inch Senkos (color wasn't important).