Elite Top lures at Mississippi River 2022 Posted on August 31, 2022 Written by Craig Lamb Photography by Andy Crawford 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 those conditions. It all began in February at the St. Johns River, and ended in August at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River. Flipping and pitching are the go-to tactics for vegetation. At the Mississippi River, 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. Late summer bass fishing in heavy cover is an adrenaline rush for anglers, and for obvious reasons. You get explosive topwater strikes on frogs, and change-up tactics along openings in the cover using soft plastics. Gear up for heavy cover, while keeping finesse baits at the ready for finicky smallmouth at Basspro.com. Drew Benton (10th; 54-3) Benton rotated through a frog for matted weeds, a bladed swimbait for the Onalaska Spillway and a Carolina rig for sandbars. A key bait was a Northland Reed-Runner Frog, fished over the mats. Alternatively, Benton chose a Big Bite Baits Pro Swimmer 3.8, rigged on 3/8-ounce Owner Inshore Slam Hook, for fishing the eddy water below the spillway. He made the Carolina rig with a Big Bite Baits Baby Fighting Frog, rigged on a 2/0 Owner Hook, with a 3/4-ounce Elite Tungsten Weight. KJ Queen (9th; 55-12)KJ Queen’s plan to create a forage-imitating perch proved productive throughout the tournament. His primary bait was a 1/2-ounce Queen Tackle Switchblade Tungsten Jig, perch skirt, with a watermelon candy Zoom Z Craw Jr., rigged sideways to emulate the perch. Queen also believed the blade striking the tungsten head emitted a unique and different noise that attracted more bass. Gerald Swindle (8th; 55-15) Swindle rotated between a bladed jig and frog, both designed for fishing in heavy vegetation. A 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait and shad trailer were ideal for working weedlines and into vegetation. For pads and matted surface cover, he used a Terminator Frog, choosing dark colors for early morning and overcast skies, and lighter coolers for brighter conditions. Scott Martin (7th; 56-2) Martin’s primary setups were a swim jig and Carolina rig, the latter of which he fished across sandbars. He made it with a 5-inch Googan Baits Dart, rigged on a 4/0 Lazer Trokar EWG Hook, with a 3/4-ounce tungsten weight. Alternately, he used 1/4- and 3/8-ounce swim jigs, rigged with small swimbaits. Matt Arey (6th; 57-10) Arey’s bait lineup included a swim jig for roaming bass, a soft plastic stick bait and a bladed swim jig. A top choice was a 3/8-ounce Lunkerhunt Natural Series Skirted Swim Jig, with homemade paddle-tail trailer. . Alternately, he used a 5-inch Lunkerhunt Lunker Stick, rigged on a 3/0 straight shank hook, and pegged with a 1/8-ounce Titan Tungsten Weight. Arey also used a 1/2-ounce bladed swim jig, with a 3/0 straight shank hook, and an imitation craw trailer. Rig up for late summer bass fishing in heavy cover with the top baits used by the pros at the Upper Mississippi River. You can also find smallmouth baits for the season and all your other gear needs at Basspro.com. Bryan New (5th; 59-11) New rotated through a front deck filled with rigs, while narrowing his top choices down to this lineup. New rigged a Zoom Ultravibe Speed Worm on a 5/0 Gamakatsu Round Bend Hook, with a 1/4-ounce weight. Following are his other bait choices. He made a Neko rig with a Zoom Magnum Swamp Crawler, rigged on a No. 1 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Weedless Stinger Hook, with a G7 Wacky Band and a G7 Nail Weight. Another choice was a size 4.8 swimbait, rigged on a 5/0 Gamakatsu Bladed Swimbait Hook. Brandon Lester (4th; 61-6) Lester rotated through a mix of baits for largemouth and smallmouth, including topwater and a Neko rig. His first topwater choice was a 1/4-ounce BOOYAH Boss Pop, rigged with No. 6 Mustad Treble Hook at the front and Mustad Triple Grip Feather Treble Hook at the rear. Alternately, he used a Heddon Super Spook Junior, rigged with No. 4 Mustad Round Bend Treble Hook at front, and Mustad Triple Grip Feather Treble Hook at the rear. Lester made the Neko rig with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Hit Worm Magnum, rigged on a No. 2 Mustad TitanX Wacky/Neko Dropshot Hook, with a 3/32-ounce Mustad Tungsten TitanX Nail Weight. Keith Combs (3rd; 61-15) Combs relied on a worm and frog to cover his areas. He made a Texas rig with a 5-inch Strike King Cutter Worm, rigged on a 3/0 Owner Offset Wide Gap Hook, with a 1/4-ounce Strike King Tungsten Weight. For heavy vegetation and matted cover, he used a King Sexy Frog. Chris Johnston (2nd; 63-0) Johnston’s primary baits were frogs of opposite color patterns to match the light conditions. His top bait was a shad pattern Spro Bronzeye Frog 65, for overcast days. And a black Spro Bronzeye Frog 65 for sunny skies. Bryan Schmitt (1st; 63-4) 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-ounce 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.