Top lures at Lake Murray

Favorable weather warmed the water to the magical temperature that stimulates spawning activity. Combine that with spawning blueback herring, and the sum of the whole were prime bass fishing conditions at the Marathon Bassmaster Elite at Lake Murray.

Photo: Craig Lamb

Drew Benton played his sight-fishing strengths, locating an area that maxed out at 70 degrees, several degrees cooler than surrounding areas, making it ideal for spawning. Benton favored pockets and creeks, while other anglers played the game where bass and herring comingled. 
After seeing 30 pounds of bass on beds the first day of practice, Benton weighed 23-0 and 23-9, taking the lead on Day 2, but barely making the Championship Sunday cut with just 14 pounds. Starting that day in 10th, he set a goal of 25 pounds, ultimately weighing 26-7 for a winning weight of 87 pounds. 
Click here to buy these lures at Bass Pro Shops.
Kenta Kimura (10th; 78-10)
Kimura chose a unique lineup of Japanese-inspired topwaters capable of eliciting reaction strikes at various retrieves optimized for each choice. 
For fast retrieves, he used a Megabass Ito Vision 110+1 jerkbait. 
Alternatively, Kimura chose a Lucky Craft Wander. 
Jason Williamson (9th; 80-1)
Williamson used what he called “staples” of Lake Murray, and rightfully so, considering the baits imitate the look and action of the fishery’s primary bass forage, the blueback herring. 
He chose a Zoom Super Fluke, rigged on a 4/0 extra-wide gap hook, rigging it through the open cavity at the top for exposing the barb to maximize hook-setting power.
For deeper bites, he used a Zoom Trick Worm, rigged on a 3/16-ounce ball head jig. 
Bernie Schultz (8th; 80-9)
A stick worm, topwater and crankbait allowed Schultz to cover the water column at varied strike zones. 
His best lure of the week was a 4-inch Yamamoto Senko, rigged on a 2/0 extra-wide gap hook, with a 1/6-ounce tungsten weight. 
For topwater action, he used a River2Sea Whopper Plopper.
A clutch bait was this Shimano Macbeth 75F, preferred for its silent action. 
Drew Cook (7th; 81-7)
Cook’s lure lineup was ideal for covering a variety of shallow water habitat with spawning bass in play. A key bait was a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, rigged on a 4/0 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Heavy Cover Worm Hook, with a 1/4-ounce tungsten weight.
He also rigged up a Big Bite Baits Scentsation Quarantine Craw, with a 4/0 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Hybrid Worm Hook, and a 1/4-ounce tungsten weight. 
Brandon Cobb (6th; 81-13)
Cobb relied on a popping topwater bait, jerkbait and underspin jig for creating reaction strikes at various depths. 
A key bait was this Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper 135.
Cobb also used a Yo-Zuri 3DB Jerkbait SP 110.
For deeper bites, he used a homemade underspin jig head with a Zoom Z Swim 3.8. 
Click here to buy these lures at Bass Pro Shops.
John Cox (5th; 81-13)
Cox rotated through a topwater walker, swim jig and soft plastic jerkbait to cover the water column for spawning and postspawn bass. 
A Berkley Cane Walker was the choice for reaction strikes. 
For slower presentations, Cox switched to a Berkley PowerBait Swim Jig, with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Meaty Chunk trailer. 
For intermediate strike zones, he used a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flatnose Jerk Shad, on a 4/0 Berkley Fusion19 hook. 
Patrick Walters (4th; 83-9)
Walters used a crankbait, soft plastic jerkbait and a hard plastic swimbait to target bass throughout his strike zone. 
A top choice was this Rapala OG Rocko squarebill. 
Alternatively, he used a Zoom Super Fluke, rigged on a 4/0 VMC Redline Hybrid Wide Gap Hook. 
During a herring bite, he switched to this Darter made by Clutch Swimbait Co. 
Kyoya Fujita (3rd; 83-14)
Fujita targeted spawning bass using two unique Japanese-inspired soft plastic baits. 
For covering water, he used a Jackall Drift Fry Mellow 5.2.
For targeting bedding bass, he used this Jackall Drift Crab Mini.
Hunter Shryock (2nd; 85-7)
Shryock alternated between a stick worm and topwater prop bait as his primary bass catchers. 
A top choice was a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent 5-inch The General, rigged with a No. 2 Neko-style hook.
Alternatively, Shryock used a Berkley Choppo 105. 
Drew Benton (1st; 87-0)
Benton rotated through a stick worm, topwater and creature bait to cover the shallow strike zone of his targeted spawning bass.
Benton’s primary sight-fishing setup was a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, rigged on an Owner 4/0 Wide Gap Hook, with a 3/8-ounce Elite Tungsten Weight. 
An alternate bed bait was this Big Bite Baits 5-inch Scentsation Trick Stick, rigged on a 4/0 Owner Jungle Wacky Hook. 
For reaction strikes, Benton used a Reaction Innovations Vixen.