Top lures at Lake Hartwell 2022

Impressive numbers of bass were caught during the final St. Croix Bassmaster Southern Open at Lake Hartwell presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, but finding better-than-average-sized bass proved to be a challenge for much of the field.
Big largemouth dominated the top spot on the leaderboard through the first two days, as Shane Lineberger and Derek Lehtonen shared the top spot on Day 1 before Lehtonen took sole possession of first-place on Day 2. But lurking close behind them were anglers finding fat spotted bass offshore.
In the end, it was Tristan McCormick who took home the victory with all spotted bass. He rotated through four shoals and located small groups of quality spots with his forward-facing sonar to secure a come from behind win on Lake Hartwell, earning a berth to the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic at Knoxville March 24-26. 
Whether you are targeting herring chasing spotted bass this fall or heading to the back of pockets to target big largemouth, Bass Pro Shops has everything you need to have success during the fall feed. Visit to purchase your personal favorites and new techniques that are sure to put bass in the boat.
David Gaston (10th place, 40-5)
A topwater presentation was Gaston’s most productive pattern on Hartwell for largemouth. This was Gaston’s fourth Top 10 of the Opens season.
A Deps PulseCod Topwater Popper in the Clear Wakasagi color was the key bait to catch roaming largemouth. He would visually see the bass near the bank and make long casts to them.
Matt Pangrac (9th place, 40-12)
Spotted bass were the name of the game for Pangrac, who used two primary techniques to notch his first Top 10 of the Opens season.
He primarily used a drop shot with a Big Bite Baits Cliff Hanger worm in natural magic color with a 3/8-ounce Kovert tungsten weight and a Gamakatsu light wire worm hook. 
He used a Spro Fat Papa Walker as a follow-up bait. Several of his keepers followed the topwater to the boat and then he caught them under the boat with a drop shot.
Lucas Murphy (8th place, 40-14)
Two Strike King baits came into play this week for the Lake Murray resident and former College Series champion.
Murphy used a 5-inch Strike King Caffeine Shad in Glacier color rigged on a 2/0 extra wide gap worm hook to trigger reaction strikes.
He also used a 6-inch Strike King Filler Worm in Dingleberry color, a new bait released at ICAST this year, on a drop shot rig with a 1/4-ounce weight and a 1/0 straight shank hook.
Derek Lehtonen (7th place, 41-9)
Lehtonen primarily used two baits to lead two days of this tournament on his home pond.
A Bandit 100 series in the blue herring color triggered most of his largemouth bites.
A 3/8-ounce green pumpkin E&L jig paired with a Zoom Twin Tail Grub also produced quality largemouth.
John Garrett (6th place, 42-3)
Garrett targeted exclusively spotted bass with three Strike King baits on his way to a Top 10 finish. 
He built a drop shot with a Strike King Filler Worm in desert craw or dirt color with a 2/0 Owner Cover Shot hook and a 3/8-ounce Strike King Tour Grade weight. 
Garrett also threw a Strike King Caffeine Shad in pro blue glimmer color rigged on an exposed 3/0 Owner Cover Shot hook 
A chrome sexy shad colored Strike King Sexy Dawg was also key for triggering strikes.
Paul Marks (5th place, 42-3)
Marks rotated between three baits to notch a Top 10 at Lake Hartwell.
A custom painted Sebile Magic Swimmer triggered key bites for Marks.
He also used a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin Greenfish Tackle Bad Little Dude jig paired with a green pumpkin and purple Yamamoto Hula Grub trailer.
A chrome colored Ima Little Stick produced topwater bites as well. He uses Gamakatsu EWG 2X treble hooks on that bait.
Shane Lineberger (4th place, 42-7)
Lineberger went all-in on largemouth at Lake Hartwell and it paid off with a Top 10 finish and Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Tournament honors. 
A True South Custom Lures buzzbait frame with gold blades paired with a black Zoom Horny Toad trailer produced big bites all week, including the 6-8 that he caught first thing on Championship Sunday. He mixed in a True South Custom Lures Fathead jig in the afternoon for dock fishing.
He also tried on a chrome colored Reaction Innovations Vixen, which has just been released a couple weeks ago. He uses Hayabusa MBR No. 4 treble hooks. 
Bryan New (3rd place, 43-4)
New opted to target strictly largemouth on Day 2 and 3 and it paid off with a third-place finish and a Southern Opens AOY title. 
New used a Spro Baby DD Little John in clear chartreuse to target brush piles in the Tugaloo River.
He also used a 1/2-ounce Z-Man Evergreen Jackhammer with Zoom Z-Craw trailer around docks.
A 1/2-ounce Greenfish Tackle Brandon Cobb All Purpose Jig with green pumpkin colored Zoom Big Salty Chunk also produced big bites.
Bryant Smith (2nd place, 44-7)
Jigs were the name of the game for the California pro, who clinched an Elite Series invite by making the final day cut.
The newest member of the Elite Series used a 3/4-ounce green pumpkin homemade football jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Menace to target brush piles on the main lake.
He would also downsize to a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin homemade football jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Baby Rage Craw
Tristan McCormick (1st place, 40-2)
The 2021 College Classic Bracket champion clinched his second Bassmaster Classic berth using two Strike King baits.
He used a Strike King Sexy Dawg Hard Knock in a chrome pattern to draw up a better quality spotted bass.
The Strike King Caffeine Shad rigged on a 3/0 Owner Cover Shot hook also triggered strikes from spotted bass suspended in the water column.