2009 Santee Cooper: How They Did It

Rolling fronts, chemical spraying and heavy pressure combined to make the final Southern Open on Santee Cooper a tough one. The weights were lower than expected and nearly every angler was frustrated by a slow bite. Still, these three top finishers found a way to haul winning sacks to the scales.Here's how they did it.

 Allan Glasgow
(1st place — 38 pounds, 6 ounces)

 "I had one little area I fished all three days," says the pro from Ashville, Ala. "I worked the cypress trees to death in there. The trick was to target the right ones and then fish them correctly."

 By that Glasgow means he targeted clumps of four to six trees that were isolated from the surrounding groups. His best clumps were located in 3 to 4 feet of water.

 "There was a lot of pressure in my area, but the thing that made the difference for me was that I fished 3 to 5 feet out from the trunk. Most of the other guys were pitching and flipping into the roots or right against them. The bigger bass were all holding out away from the trees."

 Glasgow alternated a spinnerbait and a square-billed crankbait to catch his winning weight. His spinnerbait — 1/2 ounce, white with double Colorado blades — was homemade by a local angler, Ronnie Watts. It carried a white Zoom, twin-tailed grub as a trailer. His crankbait was a Lucky Craft RC 1.5 in chartreuse with a black back.

 "I burned the crankbait as fast as I could, but I slow rolled the spinnerbait. I don't know why that made a difference but it definitely did. For some reason that's the way they wanted them."

 He threw both baits on a Daiwa 7-foot, 2-inch LT rod (medium-heavy action) and a Daiwa TD-Z reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) spooled with 17-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon line.

 "The thing here was figuring out the pattern within the pattern and then working hard and keeping a positive attitude. It's not enough to find fish in practice. You have to find something that makes your fish different. I was fortunate in that I discovered the bigger bass hanging outside the trees.

"The other thing is to 'Never give up,' as Iaconelli says. I kept fishing really hard regardless of how tough it got. That paid big dividends for me as the tournament wore on, especially on Saturday."

 Cliff Prince
(2nd place — 37 pounds, 14 ounces)

 "This was the craziest tournament I've ever fished. I had a horrible practice. Just as I started to develop a dollar pad bite they came along and started spraying. It killed everything and ruined the bite.

 "I spent at least a day and a half trying to find something alive. I finally found a little patch of pads they'd missed. It was smaller than the parking lot where we launched from. I never moved during the tournament except to go back and forth between pads. Honestly, if they'd have given me my money back on Wednesday afternoon I'd have gone home. It was that bad."

 Maybe, but there's an old saying that applies here — all's well that ends well. And it certainly ended well for this Palatka, Fla., resident. Despite his troubles, he managed to put together enough weight to finish second in a very tough event.

 Early in the morning he fished a Devil's Horse, but then switched to a Texas rigged worm and a Senko as the sun rose. He fished his Devil's Horse on a G. Loomis 6-foot, 6-inch topwater rod with a Team Daiwa reel.

 His Texas rig was baited with a Zoom Mag II worm in watermelon. He armed it with a 3/0 Gamakatsu Wide Gap hook and weighted everything with a 1/8-ounce lead sinker. His Senko was watermelon red, rigged wacky style with a 1/0 Gamakatsu hook.

 Interestingly, Prince fishes his plastics with an open-faced spinning outfit. He used a G. Loomis 7-foot, 1-inch rod (medium-light action) and a Daiwa TD reel. He alternated between Seaguar Fluorocarbon and Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line in 8- and 10-pound test.

 "I know a lot of guys think it's crazy to fish Texas rigged plastics on spinning tackle but that's the way I learned to fish. When I fish plastics I have better control and feel with open-faced tackle. I don't know why so I can't explain it, but that's the way it is. I go with what works."

 Patrick Pierce
(3rd place — 37 pounds, 11 ounces)

 "I had a very short practice. My mother died last week so I wasn't able to fish the way I usually do. That was sort of a disadvantage for me, but it also helped me keep things in perspective. I just went fishing. My mind was clear and relaxed. I knew that whatever happened out there it wasn't going to be a painful as what I'd just gone through."

 With that mindset, Pierce developed a pattern that centered on shallow water docks in backwater areas.

 "My first set was sitting in 1 to 7 feet of water. I noticed, however, that some of the guys were catching them out a ways, maybe in the 3-7 foot range. I wanted to do something different so I looked around and finally found several docks that were really shallow. They were sitting in no more than a foot and a half of water."

 Most of this Jacksonville, Fla., angler's fish were caught on a green pumpkin Zoom Speed Craw rigged Texas style. His hook was a Reaction Innovations 4/0 BMF; his weight a 1/2-ounce tungsten Penetrator. He threw his baits with a St. Croix 7-foot, 6-inch rod (light action flipping stick) with a Daiwa Zillion reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) spooled with 20-pound-test Vicious Fluorocarbon line.

 "The Speed Craw was the thing. All my docks had Christmas trees out in front of them. There were thousands of small bream swimming around. They had to be this year's fry. The Speed Craw was the perfect size to match them. I'm sure my bass though they were eating bream, not crayfish."