Brandon Card had been successful enough flipping a creature bait the first three days on Lake Texoma to land in sixth place heading into Championship Sunday.
But overcast conditions on the final day told him to put down his flipping stick and grab a topwater lure — and the veteran decision very nearly landed him in the winner’s circle at the GEICO Bassmaster BASSfest presented by Choctaw Casino Resort.
Card used a bone-colored Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil — a walking bait with a back-and-forth swimming action — to land five bass Sunday that weighed 21 pounds, 2 ounces. The heaviest bag of the tournament pushed his four-day mark to 64-3 and left him less than 2 pounds shy of winner Greg Hackney (66-2).
“I very seldom fish conservatively,” said Card, who began the final day 8 pounds off the leader. “Maybe if I needed 5 or 6 pounds to make the Top 50 cut, I’d try to catch a few smaller fish quick. But normally, once I’ve made that Top 50 cut and I know I’m getting a check, it’s game on.”
Card had been flipping bushes on the outside edges of the points all week. At the start of the week, those bushes were in 7 or 8 feet of water. But by Sunday, due to a steadily falling lake level, those same bushes were in 4 or 5 feet of water.
“When I saw that it was super cloudy and there was no sun out at all, I just kind of had a hunch that I could catch them on topwater around those same bushes,” said Card, who just signed on with Yo-Zuri this year. “I pulled out my Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil, and I caught every single fish I caught Sunday on that bait.”
With the fish still relating to the bushes, Card had what he described as “one of those special topwater days.” He got more than 30 blow-ups, throwing the lure as far into the cover as he could without getting hung up.
“Normally, when I would bring it by one of those outside bushes, I would get a bite,” he said.
Card said the weight-transfer system inside the lure allowed him to make super-long casts into the flooded shoreline cover. He said the lure “casts just like a bullet” with little to no wobble and cuts through the wind really well for maximum accuracy.
The equipment he used for topwater fishing included an Abu Garcia Veritas 7-foot medium action rod, an Abu Garcia Revo MGX with a 7.1:1 gear ratio and 30-pound Spiderwire Ultracast braid.
He said he was satisfied, despite falling short of the victory.
“It was one of those days that you dream about,” he said. “If I could have come away with the win, obviously, that would have made it that much sweeter. I missed some fish throughout the week, but I know Greg Hackney missed a couple of really big fish during the week, too.
“That kind of equals it out. Him winning by a pound and 15 ounces is way better than him beating me by 3 ounces.”