Gulp effect on smallmouth

Wherever there's a smallmouth bass bite happening, it seems there is always some Berkley Gulp in use. Both Jamie Hartman and Josh Bertrand have relied on it this week. Bertrand has been using the Gulp 3-inch minnow on a jighead. Hartman has had his Damiki Armor Shad soft plastics soaking in a tub of Gulp liquid for two months.

"We talk about it all the time," said Bertrand of his fellow pros. "The biologists at Berkley, they know. I'm not a biologist. All I know is it works better than anything else for smallmouth. The 3-inch minnow is what I use for smallmouth - everywhere from New York to the West Coast."

Being from New York, Hartman has known about the Gulp effect on smallmouth bass for many years. 

"I know what Gulp does," Hartman said. "I put three big packages of Damiki Armor Shad in a Tupperware tub of Gulp back in December. I just saturated them – closed the lid, put it in the sun and let 'em stink!"

Hartman is also making some other key modifications to that bait. He's colored them in different shades from dark to light and in-between. Plus, he's fishing them on a custom-made 3/8ths-ounce jighead, which circles on the fall and holds the bait horizontally when it's stopped.

"They aren't dramatic colors," Hartman said. "I've got all the shades covered. I keep switching colors throughout the day until I figure out what they want. Smallmouth can be picky, man. When they get together, they're not. But when they're by themselves, they're picky."

Hartman charging

New York angler and Elite Series rookie Jamie Hartman is charging. We just watched him cull twice which moves him into second, just 1 pound, 4 ounces behind leader Jesse Wiggins. Whouda thunk a month ago we'd have two rookies battling for first on Day 4 of Cherokee Lake?

Feider makes a move

After catching a limit and culling a few times, Feider made a move back to near the takeoff area where he has been catching fish on previous days. He is now looking to upgrade his weight.

Momentum for smallies

Seth Feider is no stranger to smallmouth-dominant Elite Series events, as he won the last tournament of the postseason on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota and finished second on the Mississippi River in the last event of the regular season in 2016. Feider is showing the smallmouth momentum is effective going into the last day of the Bassmaster Elite Series on Cherokee Lake.

Feider is coming on strong the final day, moving more than his competitors, and has culled twice, pushing him close to 16 pounds. 

Two rookies, same bait

Elite Series Rookie Jamie Hartman began the day only 13 ounces from fellow newcomer Jesse Wiggins. Hartman, a smallmouth specialist from New York, has boated two brownfish this morning.

As noted in Craig Lamb's earlier blog, nearly all of the names atop the leaderboard are throwing the "Damiki Rig." The fluke-like straight tailed plastic on a "Lake Erie-style (jig) head," has been unsurpassed this week.

Hartman, with eyes fixed to his electronics, has been one of the only anglers that has mentioned changing colors throughout the week based off the reaction of the smallmouth on his screen or the way the fish has eaten his bait. 

Hartman noted on his first day he caught nearly 17 pounds off of his first spot first thing, and left the fish alone. Each day the timing has been quite different for Hartman, yesterday the afternoon bite was important, the day before the catches were more sporadic, and today, the bite seems to be resembling the first day's pattern. But Wiggins is steady on the throttle, landing a 4-pounder just minutes ago. 

Wiggins fills limit with 4-pounder

Jesse Wiggins just filled his limit with a 4-pound smallmouth. And boy was he fired up, hollering and throwing his arms in the air. Should make for great video on Bassmaster LIVE. This gives Wiggins at least 15 pounds at 8:42 a.m. Plenty of time to upgrade. He's had five bites and put all of them in the box.

Wiggins with third keeper

The bites for Jesse Wiggins are coming slower than they did the past two morning. But he just landed his third keeper. Another good one. We're saying he has 9 pounds now.

Conditions are different today than the calm overcast we had yesterday morning. It's warmer, at 63 degrees. Right now we're seeing more blue sky than cloud. And there's a stiff breeze blowing at 11 to 13 miles per hour. But Wiggins is still finding em. The weather forecast is calling for 50 percent chance of rain beginning at 1:00.

'Early morning bite' may be an understatement

If you keep hearing that the morning bite is important for Jesse Wiggins, that may be an understatement.

According to BASSTrakk's data, nearly 90 percent of Wiggins' cumulative weight has been in his livewell before 10 a.m.

This morning, heading out with a 13 ounce lead, Wiggins has landed one fish in the first 30 minutes that weighs right over 2 pounds.

As I send this in Wiggins hooks into his second keeper of the day, "I need that one... not as big as I thought, but I'll take him," Wiggins estimated the weight of his second keeper being 2 1/2 pounds.

A swift morning will mean a lot for this young angler, who has never gone into the last day of B.A.S.S. competition leading the tournament.

 

Wiggins right at home on Cherokee

Much has been made of the success Alabama angler Jesse Wiggins has had in his young Bassmaster career. That includes two Opens wins, and leading his first Elite Series tournament for two days so far.

One thing to note. Wiggins first Opens win was at Smith Lake, his home lake near Cullman, Ala. To my eyes Cherokee is very similar to Smith. They're both highland lakes. Both are deep, with steep, rocky banks in some area. So his first Elite is on a familiar style lake, just four hours or so from home. Advantage Wiggins. It will be fun to see how he does on Okeechobee in a few wins.

But I should also note that he won Florida's Harris Chain Open a few weeks ago. That's impressive. No doubt this boy can fish.

He's off to a little slower start today. One nearly three pound smallmouth in his livewell at this point.

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