Now that the final day is underway, Keith Combs' secret weapon on Mille Lacs Lake can be revealed. Combs has hardly had a spinning rod in his hands all week. He's using a baitcaster to throw a 1-ounce Strike King football jig paired with a 4-inch Strike King Rage Tail in Bama Craw color.
En route to his 2-pound, 10-ounce lead over his closest competitor this week, Combs has caught consecutive limits of 24 pounds, 15 ounces. That's the big bag of the tournament so far, matched by Clifford Pirch on Day 2.
"I'm throwing something pretty big," said Combs after Day 1, when he didn't want to reveal exactly what it was. "I got a clue on what to do on the very first spot I stopped on in practice. I caught two great big ones. It's not a normal pattern. It's something kind of weird."
A 1-ounce football jig isn't "weird" in a bass tournament, but it's unusual in this smallmouth-fest, where spinning rods and drop-shot lures are the typical gear. Combs discovered the pattern on Day 3 last year, when he weighed 21-15, which had been the biggest bag of smallmouth in his illustrious career until this week.
"I caught them (last year) doing what I did (Thursday) at the depth I'm focusing on," Combs said.
He's whacking 'em again today. BASSTrakk shows him with 19-12 at 8:30 a.m., as he continues to maintain the lead on Day 3.