CHARLES COUNTY, Md. – Oklahoma pro Jason Christie may have been a star college basketball player, but it's a football cliché that may apply to his fishing career best – on any given Sunday, he's the man you have to fear if he's close in your rearview mirror. On Day 4 of the Bassmaster Elite at Potomac River presented by Econo Lodge he notched the latest round of Sunday heroics in a career that has featured plenty of them.
He caught a tournament-best limit of 23-01, nearly three pounds more than the previous best big bag, and ended up as the runner-up to wire-to-wire leader Justin Lucas. Christie was tied for 8th after Day 1, moved to 4th on Day 2, and held that spot on Day 3 before leapfrogging Bill Lowen and Brent Ehrler Sunday.
On Bull Shoals in 2013, he was in 11th heading into the final day and caught a tournament-best 18 pound limit to claim the crown.
In both cases, he accumulated most of his bags with a topwater. At Bull Shoals it was a Zara Spook. Here it was a Booyah frog. One outlier Sunday was a big bass that he "sight fished" a few months after the Potomac's spawn concluded. He saw it swimming down the grass line, pitched at it with his flipping bait, and when it bit it escaped with the tails of his lure. He had no other soft plastics on the deck, and didn't want to take his eyes off the fish's path, so he reached into his pocket and miraculously found a lone punching bait ready for action. That type of good fortune contributed to his characterization of this Sunday as another "magic day."
"I had more bites today than I had in the first three days combined," he added.
All other conditions being equal, normally weekend days are tougher fishing than the weekdays. There's more recreational pressure, more pleasure boat traffic, and the fish have been hammered for the better part of the week. Christie's success, he said, is that he "never stay[s] the same." He's willing to take a gamble, and for every time he vaults up the leaderboard on a final day, he claimed that there's another example of a time when he fell a few spots. With little room to fall, he sees no reason not to take a gamble. Sunday he primarily fished a new portion of the same grass bed that he'd plied Thursday through Saturday, and unlike the previous days he had it all to himself. That gave him an opportunity to expand not only his area, but also his understanding of how the resident bass relate to the tidal swings.
"The more time on the water you give a guy the more he learns," he said. On Bull Shoals he didn't have the schooling conditions that led to the win until that Sunday. This week, it just got hotter and more humid as the tournament progressed, but each day there was a little more of the good outgoing tide. The frog is not only a big fish lure, but also one that allowed him to cover water. "The grass bed is a quarter mile long. If you go flipping, you're not covering water at the right tide. That was my window."
With each new Sunday appearance, he also has more experience dealing with the media obligations of a good performance, like a Bass Live camera in the boat.
"I'm still getting used to that," he explained. "I don't want to do anything wrong in front of the camera." It's the type of risk that comes with ample rewards because if you're being filmed live, it means that you've survived two cuts.
Unfortunately for Christie, who seems to get stronger as the events go on, there are rarely competition days on Mondays.
"I'd like to go out there another day and apply what I learned today," he said. It might not have mattered given the manner in which Lucas overcame a slightly subpar Saturday to blast the bass again today, but if given another day, a bet against Christie wouldn't be entirely foolish.
"It was my day, but it was Justin's week," he said. "My expectations were to get a few points, and I got a lot of points."