Lunker: 8 pounds, 7 ounces (largemouth)
I was fishing a creek about 2 miles from the ramp. We all found it pretty quick in practice. I think just about everyone in the Top 12 fished there at some point during the tournament. Calling it crowded would be an understatement. There was a bridge just outside the entrance to it and a spawning pocket way back in it. The bridge was surrounded by deep water and lots of riprap.
It looked like a good first stopping point for prespawn bass as they moved towards the spawning pocket. Just inside the mouth of the creek I found a real subtle secondary point running out into 6-8 feet of water about 50 yards from the spawning pocket. It looked like a great second stopping point, and it was the last one before the pocket. It didn't look like much. It was clay, and, other than a few rocks scattered around, there wasn't any cover at all on it. It was the kind of place you had to watch for and think about or you'd never see it or fish it. I think a lot of the guys missed it because of that.
Another thing that made it attractive was that the whole area warmed up during the day. Early on the water temperature would be in the high 50s, but by the afternoon it was 62 in spots. All that stuff combined to make it a perfect place to catch a big, prespawn female.
I fished it with a Strike King Series 3 (Sexy Shad) crankbait. The forage was about as big as your thumb. The Series 3 matched it pretty well, and it ran at the right depth. I didn't do anything special with my retrieve. For the most part, all I did was cast and wind parallel to the bank. My line was 12-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. My reel was a Revo STX (6.4:1 gear ratio). My rod was a soft, medium action Fenwick. That combination let me make long and accurate casts with the Series 3 as well as get good hooksets on the bite.
If there's a lesson here, it's that we should always watch for a spot that other anglers don't see. My area was full of boats, but I found a spot the other guys didn't fish. (One other angler did find my point. He caught a nice 2-pound keeper off it the next day.) That clay point was about as ordinary as you can get. But — and here's the key — it was the only thing available between the bridge and the bedding area. She was the only fish I caught on that point. She was big enough, however, to make me a nice check and put me in 5th place in the points standings. That's a great way to start the season. I'll take it.