The 2020 Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes is a tournament Patrick Walters has had circled on his schedule since it was announced in 2019. The South Carolina native grew up in Summerville but he spent as much time as possible at his family’s lake house on the shores of Lake Marion during his formative years.
Marion is the larger of the two lakes within the massive Santee Cooper lake system that make up the playing field for this week’s competition. Walters has spent hundreds of hours learning the nuances of Santee Cooper largemouth and how they use the maze of cypress trees, grass lines, and shallow docks this fishery offers.
He is considered one of the favorites for this tournament amongst pundits and Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing participants alike, but a four-day event in the fall poises a pile of new challenges or unknowns for Walters and all the Elite Series competitors.
The Yamaha sponsored pro comes into this event riding the momentum of a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open victory on Lake Hartwell just a few weeks ago. With the biggest win of his blossoming professional career still fresh in his mind, we caught up with Walters to pick his brain on this derby being held in his own backyard.
3… Patterns to watch for?
Walters listed a trio of patterns or techniques that should be in every angler’s toolbox for fall fishing no matter where you are fishing.
“Three themes you could see from guys near the top of the leaderboard are flippin trees, slinging a spinnerbait, and a buzzbait or some kind of topwater bite,” Walters proposed. “The Cypress trees here always hold fish and a lot of guys will be targeting them. Anglers will also be taking advantage of an early morning topwater bite and you just can’t overlook a spinnerbait around cover in the fall.”
2… Major differences between holding the event now versus when it was originally scheduled (April 16-19)?
“First I would say simplicity has gone out the window, and second our four-day cumulative weight total will be much lower now versus April,” Walters said.
Walters has absolutely no doubt it would have taken over 100-lbs for four days to win on Santee Cooper during the originally scheduled April dates. He suspects that this week’s tournament could be won by an angler averaging around 17-lbs per day (~68-lb for four days) due to the scattered nature of the fish this time of year.
Still, he is extremely happy the event was rescheduled as opposed to canceled altogether thanks to the hard work and diligence of the Bassmaster Tournament Staff.
“In April you would have seen a lot of anglers with two or three rods on their front deck – now it’ll be more like 20 or 30,” Walters joked. “You’ve gotta throw the kitchen sink at them in the fall, and this tournament could be won anywhere on this fishery this time of year. It is wide open.”
1… more reason to run a Yamaha Outboard:
“The Yamaha Power Pay program,” Walters emphasized. “Power Pay puts money back in your pocket for running what is already the best outboard available!”
Walters is quick to rattle off a long list of reasons why you’d be wise to trust a Yamaha Outboard on the back of your boat, and Yamaha Power Pay is one to not overlook.
You don’t have to be an Elite Series pro like Walters to reap the benefits of Power Pay either, you just have to own (original owner) a 115–425 HP Yamaha Outboard, sign up for the free program, and be the highest finishing participant in a Power Pay supported tournament.