Lunker Lessons from Lake Erie

Kotaro Kiriyama wins the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament honors.

Sometimes catching the big one is like buying real estate. It's about location, location and location.

"I concentrated on suspended bass under big schools of baitfish," said the Moody, Ala., angler after winning Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament honors at the 2008 Empire Chase on Lake Erie.

"I made long runs — almost into Pennsylvania waters — every day because the bigger bass were under the baitfish schools in deeper water, sometimes as deep as 80 feet."

Kiriyama quickly developed a big bass pattern.

"I spent my time locating baitfish. They were way up, off the bottom and the big smallmouths were suspended under them. All I did was lower a drop shot rigged Jackall Crazy Ninja Worm, soaked in Berkley Gulp juice, straight down to them. They'd bite and swim off with it as soon as it entered their area.

"It was really easy fishing. I did nothing but drop the Ninja Worm down to them. I didn't do anything else."

He caught the big one on Saturday. The 5-pound, 15-ounce monster bit over 80 feet of water. She was holding at about 60 or 65 feet and took his lure as soon as she saw it.

That wasn't Kiriyama's only big smallie, however. Using the same strategy he caught a 5-pound, 8-ounce beast on Sunday to tie with Todd Faircloth for Sunday's Purolator Big Bass.

Kiriyama caught both fish on a 6-foot, 8-inch Shimano prototype rod and a Shimano Stella reel spooled with 7-pound-test Gamma Drop Shot Fluorocarbon line. A No. 1 Owner hook and an X-Metal tungsten weight completed his rig.