James Biggs could’ve slept in and still won the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional on Lake Guntersville, but instead the Euless, Texas boater caught a five-bass limit of 19 pounds, 9 ounces and slammed the door on a dominant wire-to-wire victory with a three-day total of 70-2.
After taking the Day 1 lead with 25-4, Biggs entered the second day with a margin of 2-12. Adding 25-5 — the event’s heaviest catch — increased his lead to 16-7. In the final round, second-place boater Jeremy Montgomery’s tournament total of 49-7 fell a pound and 2 ounces shy of Biggs’ combined weight from the first two days.
Adding his final day’s catch gave Biggs a winning margin of 20-11. Notably, that margin was more weight than anyone except Montgomery caught on Day 1.
Biggs said he intentionally built his weight as high as possible — even at the risk of fishing out his spot — because he knew the warm, mostly sunny conditions prevalent during the first two days would yield to the approaching cold front. After a rainy night, Day 3 brought a significant temperature drop, with big winds starting around mid morning. Getting his work done early was essential, Biggs said.
“Today went pretty well and I had almost 20 pounds by about 10 o’clock,” he said. “I actually got off the spot and gave it to my buddy to try to win the co-angler side. His boater wasn’t on fish, so I gave him that spot.
“I got closer to the ramp and just fished around. My nonboater (Justin Hymel) was able to fill out his limit close to the ramp and pull off the win.”
Fishing the upper end of the lake, near Goose Pond, Biggs caught his Day 3 fish with one of the two techniques he had used the first two days. The swimbait bite he had enjoyed went away in the final round, but his Dialed Baits ArmBreaker stickworm still performed.
Biggs rigged this bait Texas style with a light weight and dragged it along shell bottoms. Presentation pace, he noted, proved to be a key element of his success.
“I was dragging it really slow,” Biggs said. “You move it a foot, let it sit 10-15 seconds and just move it really, really slow.”
Biggs’ performance helped Oklahoma win the state title at this week’s event.
Montgomery’s second-place finish capped a consistent week that saw him take second on Day 1 with 22-8. The boater from Overland Park, Kan., slipped to fourth on Day 2 after missing his limit by one fish and weighing a 10-pound, 7-ounce bag, but made up the ground on Day 3 after catching a limit that went 16-8.
Montgomery caught his fish on a 1/4-ounce shaky head with a green pumpkin Zoom Magnum Finesse Worm. He said the final round weather didn’t affect him because most of his action came before the windy conditions began.
“I did most of my damage in the morning, right away,” he said. “I took advantage of the calm weather, got on my grassy humps and was able to slow down. I caught two really good quality fish right away, caught two more and then went running around. I got lucky at the end of the day. With 30 minutes to go, I caught another 4-pounder.”
Montgomery said the humps he fished rose 3 to 4 feet, with grass drops in 5 to 7 feet. His most productive presentation was throwing his bait on top of the humps and pulling it down to the grass.
Keith Glasgow of Guin, Ala., finished third with 49-6 after his tie with Louisiana boater Howard Hartley was broken by the heaviest single day catch — in this case, Glasgow’s Day 3 limit of 21-3. Glasgow, who made a big comeback from 64th on Day 1, got the ball rolling quickly on the final day and then focused on upgrading.
“I started off shallow on a shad spawn and caught a decent limit on a ChatterBait and a Carolina rig,” he said. “After that, I started fishing ledges in about 14 feet in the mouths of spawning pockets with Strike King 6XD, 8XD and 10 XD and a Carolina rig with a Zoom Magnum Finesse Worm. That’s the first place they move when they come off the beds.”
Josh Hilton of Clarksville, Ark., won the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award with his 8-12.
Justin Hymel of Norco, La., won the nonboater division with 32-10. After tying for third on Day 1 with 11-15, Hymel added 9-2 in the second round and took the lead. He sealed the deal on Day 3 with a three-bass limit that weighed 11-9.
“Yesterday, I didn’t catch my last keeper until 10 minutes left to fish; today, I caught my last keeper about 30 minutes before check in,” Hymel said of his down-to-the-wire win. “Keep your head in it every time. You never know, so don’t give up.”
The first two days of the event, Hymel caught most of his fish on a wacky-rigged stickworm. Today, he caught one of his keepers on a Texas-rigged Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer, one on a Texas-rigged Dialed Baits ArmBreaker and his third on a wacky-rigged ArmBreaker.
Lacson Reid of Eclectic, Ala., won the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among nonboaters with an 8-0.
The top boater and top nonboater from each competing state advances to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Lake Hartwell, November 6-8.