Hartman with a game-changer?

There’s lots of last minute scrambling happening on Cayuga Lake. Jeff Gustafson went south and Jamie Hartman came back north, so we followed Hartman. 

And we came off plane in time to see him land a 4-pounder. That might be the difference-maker for Hartman. 

“I shouldn’t have ever left,” he said. “I’ve got the clouds and the wind now. I shouldn’t have ever left.”

But more importantly, he came back. 

Running and gunning and no-funning

It can’t be much fun being Jeff Gustafson right now. It’s not much fun trying to keep up with him. 

Gustafson is desperately seeking a last-hour upgrade. Only those of us privy to BASSTrakk know exactly how much he needs it. And he’s not spending very long at all hopscotching his way north, from spot to spot, hoping to mine one last bass before check-in time. 

Gustafson moving back north

After taking James Overstreet back to Frontenac Park to work up his photo gallery of Jeff Gustafson’s morning, Ken Golub and I are back on the water. 

We wanted to find someone close, so we went to Jamie Hartman, who promptly pulled up his trolling motor and told us he was headed south, adding, “I need one more fish.”

We followed until we saw Jeff Gustafson, who is working his way back north. We’ll hang with Gustafson until the end. 

AOY watch

The winner of this tournament gains 100 points in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year rankings. 

This Championship Sunday is stacked with finalists who are also ranked high in the AOY rankings. From the top, today’s lineup features Drew Cook (660 points--2nd place), Chris Zaldain (654 points—3rd place), Stetson Blaylock (649 points—6th place), Seth Feider (644 points—8th place), Brandon Lester (628 points—10th place) and Jamie Hartman (627 points—11th place). 

Absent from the Championship Sunday list is the current leader, Scott Canterbury. With so many high-ranking AOY contenders fishing today—without Canterbury—they all stand to make a charge at his lead. With only four regular season competition days remaining this AOY race is worth watching.

Different day for Prince

Florida pro Cliff Prince has been spending a good amount of time in the same area he caught most of his 20 pounds from yesterday. But with very little to show for it.

He’s currently about 1/4 mile from the docks of the main launch site. It’s about 6 feet of water with an assortment of aquatic vegetation. That, and 8 to 10 feet of visibility makes it hard to catch finicky fish.

Yesterday it stayed cloudy for most of the day with a 10 to 12 mph north wind that really seemed to slow the field down.

Today it’s calm and mostly sunny, despite the cloud bank in the background of the above photo. I believe the current conditions have either forced the fish into a funk or pushed them deeper. 

Prince has hooked a few pickerel, but only has three average bass in his livewell at this point. The good news is he made some critical upgrades late yesterday, and he’s still got plenty of time.

They’re biting now for Gustafson

Jeff Gustafson has suddenly gotten on a hot streak - three smallmouth bass in about 15 minutes. The problem is only one of those helped him, and by just a quarter-pound. 

Gustafson landed a small one and immediately tossed it back after he saw a bigger one swimming with it. An quick follow up cast produced that fish - a 2 3/4-pounder. Another small fish followed that. 

Gustafson culls with a 3-pounder

Jeff Gustafson’s move south has paid off with his biggest bass of the day - a 3-pound smallmouth at 11:09. It allowed him to shed that 1-14 largemouth. 

Since then Gustafson has moved further south, near the Cayuga Power Plant. Looking at his graph, he said, “They’re here, they just won’t bite.” 

Hartman's tackle lineup

You can see the rest in the top lures gallery that will appear here on Tuesday, but in the meantime Jamie Hartman shared with me this tackle lineup. 

A 1/2-ounce vibrating jig with 3.75-inch Riot Baits T3 Tattletail Swimbait for a trailer is a top choice. Another is a 4.75-inch Riot Baits The Synth finesse worm, green pumpkin neon pattern. Depending on wind speed, he completed the rig with 3/8 or 1/2-ounce weights, and 2/0 Owner All Purpose Worm Hook.

“It’s a big deal to tip the tail with chartreuse dye,” he said of the finesse worm. 

Another key is his rod. It’s a 7’ 4”medium/heavy action Cashion Drop Shot Rod. 
“Even though it’s a medium/heavy action, the longer length provides the backbone needed for landing these big largemouth,” he said. 

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