CONCORD,N.C. — The anglers that competed in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open at Lake Norman had to stay on their toes.
The first day was sunny, calm and warm. The second day brought wind, clouds and rain.
A brisk Day 3 was blustery and bright.
South Carolina Elite Series pro Andy Montgomery made the right adjustments. He claimed victory by sacking three solid limits that totaled 37 pounds, 10 ounces.
Montgomery excels at skipping jigs under docks, and this tactic duped most of his bass. A ½-ounce Shooter Elite Series Jig dressed with a Strike King Rage Bug accounted for most of his bass.
“I caught a lot of bass under the walkways of docks on flat banks,” Montgomery said.
A white buzzbait also accounted for a portion of Montgomery’s catch. He cast it to flat, rocky banks when the sky was overcast.
Montgomery knows Lake Norman well and typically has his best luck here in autumn.
“I thought I could outlast the field in a three-day event this time of year,” Montgomery said.
Along with the trophy, Montgomery received $5,980 and a Skeeter ZX200 rigged with a Yamaha VF200LA outboard and prop, a Skeeter Single Axle Trailer, a Minn Kota Max 80F 42” 24v Trolling Motor and an in-dash Humminbird 788.
Montgomery had already qualified for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic via the Elite Series.
Floridian Richard Howes claimed second place with three limits that went 36 pounds, 2 ounces. Unlike Montgomery, Howes was new to Norman and had to start from scratch.
A jig was his primary lure, but Howes also brought a few bass to the scales that were caught on a spinnerbait and a Heddon Super Spook Jr.
Lake Norman has far more spotted bass than largemouths, but the odds for catching a heavy kicker bass are with the largemouths.
“I knew I would need at least one good largemouth a day to have a chance to win,” Howes said.
Howes started each day fishing docks near the mouths of creeks with the goal of boxing a limit of spotted bass. After securing his limit, he fished docks in the shallower backs of creeks where he was able to cull with bigger largemouth bass.
Ronald Farrow bagged 35 pounds, 1 ounce to nab third place. This was the first Bassmaster Open he had ever fished. On Thursday’s first round, he boated less than 6 pounds of bass.
“I had to give myself a pep talk Friday morning,” Farrow said.
That must have been some pep talk. He proceeded to catch the biggest limit of the tournament Friday, which weighed 16 pounds, 10 ounces. It jumped him from 101st place to 10th place.
Apparently, Farrow gave himself another pep talk this morning, as he landed the biggest limit of the day, 13 pounds, 1 ounce.
“The calm weather on Thursday killed my bite,” Farrow said. “I needed the wind.”
The wind blew Friday and Saturday and Farrow slammed the bass by casting a square bill crankbait and a spinnerbait to windblown banks.
“The best banks today were in the shade,” Farrow said.
Alabama’s 19-year-old Tyler Boyle was one of four co-anglers to catch a three-bass limit on each day of the Norman Open. His winning total of 19 pounds, 8 ounces earned him a Triton 17 Pro rigged with a Mercury 115 Pro XS and prop, a Triton single axle trailer, a MotorGuide FW46 42” 12v trolling motor, Lowrance Mark 5 graphs on the dash.
Boyle was asked what he planned to do with the boat.
“I’ll be on the water fishing in it every day I’m not working or at classes," he said.
Boyle currently attends ITT Technical Institute.