Best of Elite Series top lures 2022

The 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series season was literally one for the record books, with three fisheries producing 100-pound-plus weights to earn eight anglers B.A.S.S. Century Club entries. That included establishing a new category for smallmouth, as seen here with winner Jay Przekurat at the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario in July. 
The stops were timed perfectly to align with the best times to fish on the fisheries, as seen here in March at the Santee Cooper Lakes, where Drew Cook won by sight fishing. Here’s a recap of the patterns and lures used by the winners.
The 2022 Elite season proved that versatility is a must when fishing in the ever-changing conditions that make the sport challenging, fun and rewarding. Versatility means keeping the right baits available on hand when you need to pivot and make changes on the go. Find everything you need to stay ahead of the game at
AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River (Feb. 10-13)
By Florida standards, wintry weather marked the start of the kickoff event on the St. Johns River. Overnight lows in the 40s and daytime highs in the 50s gave way to warmer temperatures and sunny skies by the weekend. That would mean good things to come. 
The weights got heavier as the weather warmed up. It was a wire-to-wire win for John Crews, with the veteran pro amassing a total weight of 75 pounds, 4 ounces. Crews spent half his time in Rodman Reservoir, fishing the main river, canal and inside the lake, where he caught fish on standing timber and pads, while a mix of pads and other shallow targets comprised his river and canal action. 
In deeper water, he used a suspending jerkbait and drop shot; bedding fish came on soft plastics. In the pads of the river and canal, spinnerbaits and bladed jigs worked best. 
Crews used a Missile Baits Quiver Worm, rigged on a 3/0 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Hybrid Worm Hook, with a 1/4-ounce weight. 
He also used a Missile Baits Quiver Worm, rigged on a 3/0 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Hybrid Worm Hook, with a 1/4-ounce weight.  
Crews also used a Missile Baits prototype worm that was released later in the spring as the Magic Worm.
A Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer, with a Missile Baits D Bomb trailer, was another top lure. 
SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain (Feb. 17-20)
A full moon, warm, sunny weather and water temperatures in the mid-60s — it all combined for a potential full-on spawning event on the Harris Chain of Lakes. 
Bedding bass were in play, with the more consistent catches in the bays, including a large group of anglers that included Buddy Gross and others. For the second time in two years, Gross earned the coveted blue trophy, winning the tournament with a four-day total of 77-11. 
Each day, Gross changed locations but not the pattern, finding multiple schools of bass positioned along shore breaks near deeper water with vacant shellcracker beds. 
Gross spent the majority of his tournament on the east side of Lake Harris, discovering a goldmine pattern of large schools of quality bass. A key area was a deep contour break line with vacant shellcracker beds that attracted baitfish and feeding bass. 
A lipless crankbait, swimbait and Texas- and Carolina-rigged worms combined to form the winning lure arsenal for Gross. 
For the swimbait, he used a 5-inch Scottsboro Tackle Co. Swimbait, rigged on a 3/4-ounce swimbait head. 
For the Carolina and Texas rigs, he used a Zoom Z-Craw, rigged on 1/4-ounce weights.
Gross also used this lipless crankbait over the tops of submerged grass, on windblown points. 
Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes (March 17-21)
A full moon and warming temperatures — both formed the storylines for the legendary Santee Cooper Lakes. A spawn was underway, and that meant a combination of sight fishing for bedding bass and searching for those fish moving in. 
It was anyone’s game to win. All it took was a husky fish, like this 9-1 largemouth, the Phoenix Big Bass of the tournament caught by Luke Palmer, to get into the championship round. 
Drew Cook fished flawlessly, sight fishing to the tune of 105-5, joining the B.A.S.S. Century Club in a wire-to-wire finish. Cook spent time in a clear water creek where bass spawned in a deeper area with scattered pads and vegetation. 
Lures were more than part of Cook’s gear. To gain a higher vantage point for seeing beds, he stood on top of his electronics mounts. 
The view was worthwhile, and so were the tedious waits for the bedding bass to take his baits. 
Cook chose a lineup of baits suited for coaxing bedding bass to bite, while covering water for blind bed fishing. 
He chose a 4-inch Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, rigged on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Aaron Martens G-Finesse Heavy Cover Hook, with a 3/8-ounce weight. Alternatively, he used a 5-inch Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, rigged on a 5/0 Gamakatsu G-Power Heavy Cover Flip and Punch Hook, with a 3/8-ounce weight. 
Cook made a wacky rig with a soft plastic stick bait, rigged on a No. 1 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Weedless Stinger Hook. 
Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Chickamauga Lake (April 7-10)
A frosty Championship Sunday morning had the temperatures in the low 30s at Chickamauga Lake. After sunrise, areas of thick fog added a weather anomaly to the game plans of the Top 10 anglers. 
“The fog was why I won,” said Jason Christie, who made an unscheduled stop while en route to his key area until the fog lifted. By 8 a.m., Christie lit up the BassTrakk scoreboard with a limit, while much of the field was still navigating through the fog. A winning weight of 73-7 ounces earned Christie an eighth career B.A.S.S. victory. 
Some bass were spawning. Many were migrating along textbook staging and transition areas toward the spawning areas. Intercepting the fish made timing and bait selection a must for success.
A skirted jig and spinnerbait enabled Christie to cover water and flip and pitch to bass in heavy cover. 
Christie used a 5/8-ounce War Eagle Jiu-Jigsu flpping jig, with a 2.75-inch YUM Craw Chunk. 
He covered water with a BOOYAH Covert Series Spinnerbait, featuring a single Colorado blade and a YUM Swim’n Dinger trailer. 
Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork (May 19-22) 
Lake Fork. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Lee Livesay. The Texas grandaddy of trophy bass fishing, a fisheries department whose quality bass management is second to none, and the angler whose name is synonymous for winning on his home lake. 
For the second consecutive year, Livesay won on Lake Fork, this time with a winning weight of 113-11 ounces, adding another B.A.S.S. Century Club belt, as did veterans Brandon Palaniuk (102-2), Gerald Swindle (102-2) and Shane LeHew (100-9). 
Lake Fork’s largemouth population was mainly in postspawn mode, staging on points, submerged islands, humps and other textbook areas leading to deeper water. 
Livesay’s payoff spot was a 40-foot by 40-foot flat reaching into nearby timber in about 13- to 17-feet of water, where large gizzard shad were congregating on the hard bottom. When bass pulled up to feed, Livesay was greeted with aggressive bites. 
A crankbait for covering water to find sweet spots, and a pair of jigs for finessing the fish were the lures of choice for Livesay. 
Livesay chose a 6th Sense Crush 300D Crankbait for postspawn bass in deeper water. 
A 3/4-ounce 6th Sense Divine Hybrid Jig with a NetBait Paca Craw was a jig choice. 
Another was a Hog Farmer Tremoring Hog Tie Jig.
Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake (June 2-5)
The Tennessee River contest, as expected, proved to be an offshore beatdown, as the majority of the field roamed the main river ledges and outer thirds of creek arms to find schools of offshore fish. 
Nobody dialed it in better than a summertime offshore expert in these parts as Brandon Lester, posting a winning weight of 86-1, landed his first Elite Series win. 
As to be expected, having a rotation of baits was important for anglers, giving a different look to the highly pressured fish. The top anglers used a mix of crankbaits, jigs, magnum spoons and soft plastics to catch the offshore, postspawn bass. 
To secure his first Elite Series victory, Lester relied on a pair of large crankbaits and a Neko-rigged worm.
Lester’s main producer was a Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Magnum Hit Worm Neko rigged with a No. 2 Mustad TitanX Neko Hook.
To trigger a deep reaction bite, Lester went with a Strike King 6XD crankbait with Mustad KVD Triple Grip Treble Hooks.
Lester’s alternative crankbait was a Strike King 4.0 KVD Magnum Squarebill paired with Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Treble Hooks.
Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River (July 14-17)
Of the 19 B.A.S.S. pro events held on the smallmouth-rich waters of the St. Lawrence River, none came close to matching the 2022 trip. A new category was added to the B.A.S.S. all-time record book. Two anglers each weighed more than 100 pounds of smallmouth, establishing a new smallmouth category in the Bassmaster Century Belt Club. 
Those anglers were Cory Johnston and Jay Prezkurat, who led the trophy smallmouth fest all four days. A rare stretch of calm, sunny weather and a super moon ignited the smallmouth, setting the stage for record-breaking catches. Drop-shot rigs and Ned rigs dominated the lures used by the Top 10 anglers. 
Przekurat spent all four days in Lake Ontario, where his best spot was a postspawn staging area in 15 to 20 feet where smallmouth fed on abundant baitfish in the area. 
Prezkurat’s top baits were a drop-shot rig and a hair jig. 
He made the drop shot with a Strike King Drop Shot Half Shell, rigged on a No. 2 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Drop Shot Hook, with a 1/4-ounce WOO! Tungsten Drop Shot Weight.
Alternatively, Prezkurat used a 3/32-ounce custom made marabou jig.
Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe (Aug. 18-21)
The Bassmaster Elite Series returned to the Great Plains and Lake Oahe for the first time since 2018. Out West, distance is a relative term, and it took long runs to reach the most productive areas. There, the smallmouth staged on offshore points and irregular bottom features between shallow and deeper water. 
Even in the wide-open spaces, the smallmouth schooled up in specific areas, making vertical presentations a must. 
As was keeping an eye on forward-facing sonar as the bass roamed the water column following schools of baitfish.
“I feel like I have an advantage on a smallmouth event over the field, at least most of them,” said winner Austin Felix. “It is my wheelhouse I would like to think. I had never been here before, but when I came here for (pre-practice) it was the most incredible fishing in the world.” The 2020 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year won with a total weight of 71-9. 
His winning pattern focused main-lake points sharply dropping off into deep water, with rockpiles on the bottom. 
Felix rotated through a Ned rig, drop shot and Carolina rig. 
He made the Ned rig with a Z-Man Big TRD, rigged on 1/4- or 3/8-ounce Swagger Tungsten Ned Heads. 
Felix made the drop shot with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flatnose Minnow, or The General. He rigged those to a No. 2 Ryugi Talisman Hook, with a 3/4-ounce Swagger Tungsten Drop Shot Weight. 
Felix made the Carolina rig with a Zoom Speed Craw, rigged on a No. 4 Ryugi worm hook, with a 5/8-ounce weight. 
Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River (Aug. 26-29)
The 2022 season began and ended on two fisheries with moving water and heavy vegetation, allowing the pros to test their skills — and teach us all — about choosing the best baits for the conditions. It all began in February at the St. Johns River, and it ended at the upper Mississippi River. 
Flipping and pitching are the go-to tactics for vegetation. The venerable Carolina rig was a player, as were a wide variety of baits. 
Bryan Schmitt’s four-day weight of 63 pounds, 4 ounces, earned him a second blue trophy based on the strength of his knowledge of catching bass in moving water, and dialing into the intricacies of finding subtle differences in vast areas of vegetation. 
A Carolina rig, frog and drop shot covered the water column for patterns in play for Schmitt. 
Schmitt made the Carolina rig with a Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer, rigged on a 3/0 Haybusa Hook, with a 1/2 weight.
For topwater action in heavily matted vegetation he chose a SPRO Flappin’ Frog 65.
Schmitt made the drop shot with a Missile Baits Magic Worm, rigged on a 3/0 Hayabusa WRM957 Offset Shank Hook, with a 3/16-ounce Reins Tungsten Weight.