Here's a quick look at what the sixth- through 10th-place finishers at the Bassmaster Elite Series Power-Pole Slam on Lake Okeechobee did to catch their fish.
Note that in Florida tournaments, one more big bite a day makes the difference between the top five and sixth through 10th. In other words, any one of these patterns also could have been a top five pattern. In fact, many of the top 10 anglers were fishing in the same place: the western side of Okeechobee, known locally as the "West Wall."
6th: Jeff Kriet
Although most of the Top 10 anglers were fishing the West Wall, Kriet fished the northwest side of the lake. He was catching pre-spawn, post-spawn and spawning fish.
He started every morning swimming a jig or fishing a frog, then later pitched to holes in pads. Like most Elite pros in Florida, he was making the longest casts he could and was avoiding using the trolling motor.
- Hard bottom.
- 1/4-ounce Jewel Swim Jig with a Big Bite Cane Thumper swimbait in two colors: black/blue with tilapia trailer, and perch with perch trailer.
- Pitched a Big Bite Trick Stick (watermelon red), with an 1/8-ounce Eco Pro tungsten weight if windy.
Since big fish were moving up in the afternoon, he said he wished he did more looking every day around 1:30 or 2:00.
7th: Scott Rook
Rook fished a hydrilla flat in the Monkey Box area for post-spawners.
- Finding smaller areas of the flat that held better fish.
- 8-inch Zoom lizard (junebug) with 1/8-ounce weight.
- 1/4-ounce Jewel Swim Jig (black/blue) with Zoom Super Speed Craw (various colors).
Swimming a lizard is old-school – the bass probably hadn't seen it.
8th: Kevin VanDam
VanDam fished the West Wall near the Monkey Box. He focused on outside reed lines, to which post-spawn fish were relating.
- Clearest water he could find.
- 3/4-ounce Strike King Hack Attack Jig (black/blue) with Strike King KVD Chunk (black/blue).
He was a little surprised by how much the water level dropped in certain areas because of the wind.
9th: Tommy Biffle
Biffle fished West Wall reeds. He flipped the outside edge Day One, then moved into the reeds the next three days.
keyed on a stretch of reeds and buggy whips with clear water. Day 1 flipped mainly outside edge with . Day 2 started flipping into the reeds, heard fish busting back in reeds, pushpoled back in and every 3-6' he moved in he'd stop and flip. Day 3 he did the same as day 2 and followed the trails he made. Day 4 west wind dropped water 0.5-1', caught them on the outside edge. Key was. Did not make long casts. Used trolling motor as little as possible.
- Clear water.
- Using 30-lb Sunline Fluorocarbon line instead of braid for more bites.
- Gene Larew Biffle Bug (blackberry sapphire) with 5/16- or 3/8-ounce weight.
- Lunker Lure Rattleback jig (black/blue) with a Larew Biffle Bug Jr. (sapphire blue).
Because he was fishing in the reeds, he couldn't make long casts.
10th: Terry Scroggins
Scroggins also fished the West Wall, focusing on post-spawn in dirtier water. In the afternoons he moved north and flipped mats for bigger bites.
- Dirtier water than most were fishing.
- Changing locations for a kicker.
- Flipping: 3/4-oz jig (black/blue) with a 375 Yum Chunk (black/blue flake).
- Punching: Yum Big Show Craw (black/blue) with 1.5-ounce tungsten weight.
He had to hop the bait a bunch under the mats because fish weren't eager to bite.
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