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LA CROSSE, Wisc. — He was more than 700 miles from home, but Barry Davis of Startex, S.C., targeted a familiar scenario to win the Huk B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series at the Mississippi River powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia. Davis’ five fish measured 88 inches.
Davis’ individual fish were 18 1/2, 18 1/4, 17 3/4, 17 1/4 and 16 1/4. For his achievement, he earned a $5,553 prize package of cash and merchandise.
In the third of five regular-season events, anglers were allowed to launch at any public ramp or public access area within tournament waters, which comprised of Upper Mississippi Pools 7, 8 and 9, along with any connecting creeks and canals. Fishing from a Bonafide SS127, Davis fished Pool 9 and spent his day focusing on sloughs with habitat similar to his home waters.
“I was fishing the crossover sloughs midpool all day long,” Davis said. “I was fishing 6 feet or less on cut-back banks with wood close by. The key was I found where current was in a bend that had laydowns all in it.
“With that cut-back bank, I’m familiar with fishing that because a lot of our rivers in South Carolina are about the same size as that cut-through. When I found that on Wednesday, that felt like home to me. I felt comfortable with it.”
Davis reports a fast start that yielded 12 fish in the first hour.
“I put my limit up in the first 30 minutes and upgraded my last fish just after that hour,” he said. “Everything else I caught the rest of the day was 14 to 15 inches, but I broke off a good fish late today.”
Davis caught his fish on shaky heads with Victory Tackleworks Clutch Craws in watermelon green and green pumpkin. The former was his morning color, while the latter served him better later in the day.
“I mainly used a 1/16-ounce shaky head, but I also had a 3/16-ounce rigged up for deeper water,” Davis said. “All but one of my fish came on the 1/6-ounce.”
To ensure he got on his early morning bite, Davis recently installed a Torqeedo 1103 ultralight outboard motor. The 3hp unit gave him the edge in reaching a prime area first.
“There were 13 competitors putting in where I [launched] this morning, and later in the day six of them told me they had planned to go to the area I fished,” he said. “That was my key — the drag race was won by me.”
Joey Vanyo of Lakeville, Minn., placed second with 87 inches. Fishing Pool 9, he focused on current breaks and island sand humps. Vanyo caught fish on a shad color Storm Arashi squarebill, a 3/8-ounce silver/shad Warbird spinnerbait and a Carolina-rigged black/blue Zoom Brush Hog.
“The key was I increased current and I found a ledge on the main-river channel where the bass were keying on an undercut bank,” Vanyo said. “I was using the Carolina rig in that spot.”
Brady Storrs of Gibbon, Neb., finished third with 87 inches. Ties are broken by the single largest fish, in this case a 19 3/4-incher caught by Vanyo. Storrs committed his day to Pool 7, where he did all of his work by fishing a leopard color Spro popping frog over mats.
“I caught a few fish around wood that was in the mat, but for the most part, it was just straight mat,” Storrs said. “If the mat had deeper water closer to it, I felt like there was a higher quantity of larger fish there. I was also fishing mats with a lot [of] cleaner water and I think that had them in there, too.”
Rounding out the Top 10 were Mike Elsea (86 3/4), Zach Gibbons (85 1/2), Eric Siddiqi (85 1/2), Zach Humphries (85 1/4), Lance Burris (84 3/4), Casey Reed (84 1/4) and Cody Milton (83 1/2).
For complete results, visit TourneyX.com.
The tournament was hosted by Explore La Crosse.