Caleb Kuphall will, no doubt, look back on this event and see things he could’ve, should’ve done differently. But given the week’s weather and seasonal staging, his general game plan of flipping/punching thick vegetation for postspawn fish was about as nuts-and-bolts perfect as it gets.
Other Top-10 anglers like Chris Zaldain and Chris Johnston have tried to find gold on their offshore spots, while Luke Palmer has fared well spending a good chunk of his time throwing a jerkbait. Bream beds can offer fireworks this time of year, but no one has been able to turn that into a dominant pattern.
Meanwhile, Kuphall’s steady persistence has kept him in the top spot since Day 1 when he caught 27-10 — the tournament’s biggest bag. As of 11 o’clock, Bass Trakk’s unofficial standings showed him with a final-round limit of 15-8 and a tournament total of 82-5, which leads Palmer by 17-4.
In fairness to nine other pros whose hard work has earned their Championship Sunday berths, we don’t crown winners until every bag has been weighed. That being said, few would argue against the seemingly inevitable.
And it all comes down to Kuphall’s steady-Eddie approach to picking off quality fish cooling their heels in the gnarly stuff.
Bottom line, postspawn fish will move out to ledges when they’re ready, but they can be pretty particular about when they feel like biting at the rate that wins tournaments. Similarly, the ones that remain relatively shallow to mid-depth will chase those reaction baits when surface ripple breaks up visibility and moves bait around.
But dump a ton of hot sunlight on a flat calm day and shallow fish will park their backsides under cover. They get awfully bored under those mats and when a wayward bream, sunfish or gizzard shad ambles into range, the response is swift and severe.
That’s what Caleb Kuphall’s punching technique emulates and that’s why he’s very likely to win his first blue trophy today.