John Garrett has only fished six Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens and already qualified for the Top 12 on two occasions. What’s even more notable about that is the first Championship Saturday appearance came just two weeks ago on the swampy waters of the Sabine River in southeast Texas. Now, he’s at it again on a totally different Oneida Lake.
The key to all of the above is Garrett had fished neither fishery, or that type of water, until the competition. So how did he dial into smallmouth on a new lake?
“Every summer for the past four years I’ve fished Lake St. Clair with my grandad,” he told me yesterday. “I’ve learned a lot about smallmouth and much of what I’m doing came from those trips.”
At St. Clair, one of the best smallmouth lakes in the country, Garrett honed his skills fishing rockpiles, bottom depressions with scattered weeds, and other subtle contour changes. All three types of smallmouth water are in play now on Oneida.
Garrett is no newcomer to tournament fishing. At Bethel University, the scholarship/student athlete is on the bass fishing team. Garrett won the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops. He did that last summer on Kentucky Lake, his home water. By virtue of the win he fished the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The win also earned him paid entry fees in the Opens, along with a Toyota Tundra used to tow his Nitro boat.