The biggest bass of the Lake Murray event was an 8-pound, 7-ounce female carried to the scales by Grant Goldbeck.
"I found a spot in practice that seemed to hold the biggest blueback herring in the lake," said the Gaithersburg, Md., Elite Series pro. "I've always believed that big baitfish equal big bass, so that's the area I targeted once the tournament started. I wanted a big one."
The area he targeted is unique. It's a tiny flat — no more than 20 yards wide and not quite that long — tucked inside a bay, just behind a point. The flat was covered by three feet of water but dropped sharply into 12 around its edges. It's covered with a mixture of hard clay and chunk rock.
"I was looking for just such a place when I found it. I always try to have a big bass spot or two to fish during the tournament. This one was really small and not obvious at all. I think that's why the other guys missed it.
"The big bluebacks were stacked up on it and so were the bigger bass. It was a natural; the forage fish were there, and I knew that as long as they didn't leave the bass wouldn't leave either. All they had to do was swim up a few feet and their dinner was on the table waiting for them. Like I said, it was a natural.
"I threw a Sebile 5-inch Magic Swimmer with a Natural Shiner finish to catch her. I ran the bait about four inches below the surface — I wanted it high but didn't want it to create a wake — and cranked it back towards the boat at a smooth, medium rate of speed. Every bass I caught on it hit really hard, including the 8-pounder and another one that got away I'd estimate at 11 pounds."
Goldbeck tossed his swimbait with a Dobyns 7-foot, DX 703C rod and a 7:1 ratio Shimano Curado reel spooled with 16-pound-test Sunline FC Sniper BMS fluorocarbon line.
"The rod was critical to my success. It has a heavy, strong backbone and a really fast tip. The tip action let me cast the Magic Swimmer as far as I needed and at the same time allowed me to feel the swimming action of the bait. And the heavy backbone let me move bigger bass when that was necessary.
"But, make no mistake about it, the spot I fished was the reason I caught her. To catch big bass you've got to find them and fish where they are. I was able to do that, and it paid off for me in the tournament."