GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Familiar water and tidal fishing knowledge paid off for South Carolina’s John Proctor, overall winner of the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional held on the Pee Dee River Basin.
Proctor’s winning weight totaled 34-11, a solid four-plus pounds over Kentucky’s Mark Pierce, who finished second with 30-4. Following in third place was Alabama’s Kyle Glasgow with 26-2.
Proctor’s win centers around a fishing tale that is real. He spent practice fishing with a hookless soft plastic jerkbait to avoid spooking spawning bass.
Oddly, one fish took the bait and refused to shake free.
“She jumped out of the water, I got a good look and knew I had to go back the next day,” Proctor said.
Proctor, a member of the Conway Bassmasters, went sleepless on competition eve for good reason. He couldn’t wait to go back and try his luck to catch the bass.
He returned on Day 1 and did just that; the bass that had cost him sleep added 7 pounds, 9 ounces to his leading stringer.
That bass proved vital to the win and then some. Proctor collected $200 for the daily big bass award and received a bonus $300 for catching the biggest bass of the tournament.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce kicked in a Pawley’s Island Hammock as well.
Proctor targeted a dike protecting a marina all three days. He said the draw for the spawning females was a hard, sandy bottom created when the marina was dredged.
“That’s local knowledge and the fish use those areas to spawn,” he said. “There is also deeper water in the harbor bordered by the firm bottom.”
Proctor gained new knowledge even though he is considered a local expert. He discovered the best success for spawning happens on a rising tide.
“The spawning females stay longer because high tide keeps the beds underwater,” he observed. “They are more aggressive and willing to bite.”
Another lesson learned is what happens during a falling tide.
“You can find the beds easier because they are nearly out of the water,” he said.
That’s how he located the bass that anchored the win. During practice he did not see the bed, but he returned later in the day to find it.
Proctor targeted spawning bass for another reason. He claims the recent new moon sparked a major migration. Waves of bass moved from the river channel into the shallow basin.
“That gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I felt like when the fishing slowed it would improve when another wave moved shallow to spawn.”
To catch his winning weight, Proctor relied on a rotation of three lures; a weightless Senko, a Shaky Head and a Baby Brush Hog spinnerbait. He made casts to the spawning beds to coax fish off the beds.
The contestants qualified from local bass clubs and state championships. As the top angler from South Carolina, Proctor advances to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
The following high finishers from their respective states join him: Mark Pierce, Tennessee; Roger Thomas, North Carolina; Lance Freeman, Kentucky; Kyle Glasgow Jr., Alabama; Wayne Black, Florida; and Brad Durden, Georgia.
The tournament included a competition between states. Each team had 14 anglers with their cumulative weight counting toward the total weight. South Carolina won with 288 pounds, 9 ounces. Alabama took second place with 242-11, followed by Georgia with 227-12.
Florida followed with 219-1 and North Carolina placed fifth with 218-10. Tennessee finished with 213-10 and Kentucky claimed seventh place with 199-9.
South Carolina received a Triton 189 TRx rigged with Mercury outboard, Lowrance electronics and a MotorGuide trolling motor. The complete package is valued at $33,340.
State championship high school teams competed alongside the adults to hone their skills. Cumulative weight caught was added to the overall score of the state team.
Carter McNeil and Tucker Smith represented Abbeville High School to win the title for South Carolina. The team’s overall weight was 17-11. The team received $500 and a Pawley’s Island Hammock for catching the biggest bass.
Georgia’s Jake Mims and Jace Garrett earned second place and $250 for their catch weighing 16-2. The team represented Alexander High School in Douglasville.
Eric Silverstrim won the A.R.E. Top Angler Award and its $250 payout. The prize is a contingency award from the manufacturer of truck caps, camper shells, canopies, hard tonneau covers, work caps and truck accessories.