Park Falls, WI – The clock is ticking down to the biggest event in bass fishing on the planet—the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods. With it, St. Croix bass pro Jesse Wiggins is busy preparing his gear and mindset to compete against the very best bass anglers on the water.
“It’s been a goal ever since I was a kid to fish in a Bassmaster Classic. Once I started fishing the Elites and actually qualified, you learn what a big deal fishing in the Classic is and what it means to everybody. And you don’t take qualifying for granted because there are a lot of amazing anglers who didn’t even qualify for it. But to win it you really have to focus on the fishing part of it more than anything and avoid thinking too much about how awesome it is to be there. This is the third Classic I’ve qualified for in my career, and while I didn’t do all that well at the other two, I hope to change that at the event this year,” says Wiggins.
How does he plan to do that? By making sure all of his gear is ready to go and in tip-top shape and keeping his mind focused on the fishing part of what the Bassmaster Classic represents. “I think it’s going to come down to focusing on big fish—those five key, big bites a day. In terms of weights, I don’t think you’re going to see massive Pickwick or Guntersville kind of bags. I think anywhere between 15 to 20 pounds a day is going to win, so we’re really talking about focusing on fish over three pounds. The area also has some big smallmouths, so they could definitely play a part, too. I think I’ll probably start my fishing close to the take-off at Fort Loudoun, but I will make that hour boat ride to Tellico if I have to.”
He continues: “The fish should be in pre-spawn mode, and there’s been a lot of rain and flooding so the Tennessee River is really flowing with heavy current and a lot of dirty water, which has actually had the fish biting pretty good. Knowing the Tennessee River, there’s definitely going to be some kind of crankbait bite involved with that dirty water. My plan right out of the gate is to throw cranks on the St. Croix Legend Glass LGC610MHM, and after that, we’ll just have to go from there.”
Wiggins is a huge fan for the ICAST award-winning Legend Glass family and plans to have a host of them on his deck, including a brand-new model to be released at the Bassmaster Classic Expo.
“I’ll also be using a prototype of the new Legend Glass LGC72HM for Chatterbaits and maybe a Rat-L-Trap. So, that rod, and a 7’4” medium-heavy power LGC74MHM Legend Glass and my personal favorite, that 6’10” LGC610MHM Legend Glass I mentioned, which I use for square bills or a DT6 – any kind of crankbait that dives under 10 feet. Most of the time if you’re throwing that shallow you’re fishing on the bank and using that 6’10” you can make unbelievably accurate casts. I’m in love with that rod. I tell you, there’s no confidence booster like having the right tools for the opportunity at hand,” says Wiggins.
In terms of line choice, Wiggins’ go-to line for crankbait fishing is 12-pound Seaguar AbrazX fluorocarbon, which he ups to 15-pound for ChatterBaits. For flipping, he uses Seaguar Low-Vis Stealth Gray Smackdown and prefers High-Vis Green Seaguar Smackdown with a fluorocarbon leader for any kind of finesse fishing with spinning gear.
Speaking of spinning gear, Wiggins plans to have a rod he co-developed with St. Croix very near on his deck during the event, too. “A bigger shakey head is just one of those baits you’ve gotta have rigged up on the Tennessee River—a big, oversized finesse worm on a larger shakey head—they just catch fish there. So, I’m definitely going to have a rod I helped St. Croix design—the Mojo Bass MJS73MHF POWER SHAKE spinning rod—ready to go at a moment’s notice. It could very well play out that way.”
Wiggins says he’s excited to fish the Classic and thankful for both the quality of the gear he has to use and the people who continue to stand behind him as sponsors.
“I just can’t say enough good about being on St. Croix’s pro staff. The people are great to work with and fishing-wise, the product we get to fish with, well, it’s just amazing. The support the St. Croix staff has given me has been outstanding both in terms of working together on product development and events. Although it’s only my third year fishing for St. Croix, I look forward to more great opportunities with them in the future. I definitely feel like part of the St. Croix family.”