At each Bassmaster Elite, Open and Classic we compile the best baits used by the top competitors. Here is a look at the locations and times of year that these baits worked best for them. If you are planning on fishing a lake on this list, this is a great start to see what worked for the pros. Note: Some lakes border two states — we have generally chosen the state where the event was held for this list.
- Smith Lake April 2019 Rising and falling water, post-frontal conditions, and postspawn largemouth and spotted bass. This tournament had it all and it took a mixed bag to win. Lures covering the entire water column from top to bottom were the difference makers.
- Logan Martin September 2018 Power-generated current and spotted bass have a symbiotic relationship during summertime. The bite goes hot during generation periods and turns cold during slack water. Learn what lures worked best under both conditions.
- Lake Martin February 2018 Periodic rains and warm water runoff inundated the lake to create ideal conditions for a prespawn largemouth bite. These baits scored big for the top finishers as the bass moved in from deeper water.
- Smith Lake October 2017 The offshore spotted bass bite was on as those fish were feeding on roaming schools of Blueback herring. There was a viable largemouth bite also in play. Top lures covered the gamut from shallow to deep coverage baits.
- Lake Dardanelle June 2017 Late spawning and mostly postspawn largemouth in a funk proved no easy ticket to winning. No sight fishing. No ledge fishing. Mostly junk fishing. Just grinding it out on a muddy, fluctuating Arkansas River.
- Bull Shoals/Norfork April 2016 This double-header was all about spawning bass. During the first round the water temperature hovered in the high 50s, and then shot up into the low 70s by the final round. Enhancing the spawning conditions was a full moon.
- St. Johns River February 2019 A prespawn matchup showcased the trophy bass potential of this vibrant fishery. Wave upon wave of big females staged on transition areas in the main river, while more aggressive fish had advanced into the spawning areas.
- Harris Chain January 2019 Cold front challenged? Nowhere else are those conditions any tougher than during winter on Florida impoundments. All it takes is a north wind to shut down the bite which happened at this event. Anglers adjusted with numerous baits as reaction lures and slowly fished soft plastics dominated.
- Kissimmee Chain January 2018 A full moon and prespawn bass were a no-brainer for success on this trophy lake. Punch baits and finesse tactics proved the best mix for this matchup.
- Lake Okeechobee February 2017 The lake was in its seasonal prime with all spawning phases underway during the tournament. The lineup not surprisingly is dominated by heavy tackle and lures designed for fishing in heavy cover.
- Harris Chain January 2017 All phases of the spawn. An unseasonably sunny, warm mid-January in central Florida. It all set up for remarkable fishing and the lake did not disappoint. Going to combat in heavy cover took the tackle and lures required to get the job done without fail.
- Lake Lanier February 2019 Prespawn conditions for largemouth and especially spotted bass dictated choosing copycat baits mimicking the abundant baitfish in the lake, including Blueback herring and shad. Top lures were soft plastics fished on dropshot rigs and small swimbaits used to coax bass staging in deep water.
- Lake Chatuge September 2018 Hunting big largemouth on the shoreline or going offshore for spotted bass gorging on Blueback herring. This fall matchup showcased topwaters, swimbaits, wacky rigs and dropshot rigs.
- Red River June 2018 A tough river bite during the dog days of summer proved the ultimate challenge during this tournament. It took a lure lineup spanning the water column to gain success. From topwaters and crankbaits to soft plastics and spinnerbaits, all in play on the Red River.
- Sabine River June 2018 The tournament played out in a river, along with hundreds of miles of coastal and tidal-influenced water. Junk fishing and patience paid off with myriad textbook summertime lures doing the trick.
- Toledo Bend January 2018 Need to sort through myriad options and dial into winter time bass on Toledo Bend? This lure lineup shows you how.
- Sabine River June 2017 Guerilla bass fishing in the marsh summed up the top lures chosen by the anglers to coax fish from heavy cover. From frogs and spinnerbaits to square billed crankbaits and worms, what worked in these coastal waters can work anywhere during summer.
- Toledo Bend April 2017 A lunar phase nearing the full moon. Big bass staging on textbook transition areas between deep water and the spawning areas. Some fish already in spawning mode. When bass are on the move in spring making wise lure choices is a must.
- Atchafalaya Basin October 2016 Punching mats with heavy tackle and baits to match the mission are a must in this swampy fishery. Think outside the box with these lures that dominated a fall tournament on a tidal fishery.
- Red River October 2016 Crankbaits and jigs capable of penetrating heavy cover proved the best choices in this post-flood event.
- Toledo Bend May 2016 The winner used an ultra-deep crankbait and the runner-up a pair of topwater lures. From shallow to deep and in between the fish fell to lures capable of working the entire water column.
- Potomac River August 2016 You could nearly fill a tacklebox with different types of lures used in this summertime contest on a tidal fishery. High tide, low tide and in between required versatility to keep a pattern alive.
- Chesapeake Bay August 2015 When the going gets tough on a tough tidal fishery it takes changing to conditions. And going junk fishing. Find out how to match lures with this run-and-gun tactic that proved most productive.
- Lake St. Clair August 2017 A simple old school tube jig was the winner’s choice, but topwaters and swimbaits worked too in this smallmouth whack fest on one of the nation’s top fisheries.
- Mille Lacs September 2017 Need ideas about which drop shot lures work best in fall? Look no further than in this gallery. The deep water rigs were the top choice of the winner and best finishers.
- Mille Lacs September 2016 Drop shots, jerkbaits and crankbaits. They all caught smallmouth, from shallow to deep in this early fall smallmouth fest.
- Table Rock Lake October 2018 Fall transition was the buzz word of the week. The fall transition was in full swing, and that made intercepting bass movements the name of the game. See what lures were used to home in on the moving fish.
- Table Rock Lake March 2017 The winner had success fishing in water up to 50 feet and throwing a finesse swimbait to bass holding in standing timber over 25 feet of water. Find what choices worked best in this textbook scenario for a highland lake.
- Ross Barnett March 2018 Unseasonably warm weather, rain, cold fronts and a full moon. That all happened in this textbook prespawn event with the bass on the move. Find out what lures worked best to intercept them in this early spring lure lineup.
- Ross Barnett May 2017 Shallow patterns ruled the week on this lowland reservoir. From buzzbaits and spinnerbaits to frogs and plastics, use these lures to dial into bass in all spawning phases.
- St. Lawrence River August 2018 Drop shot rigs ruled at this summertime event when the big smallmouth were tightly school on offshore structure, seeking baitfish swept past by the current. Check out the choices and rig up for summer.
- Niagara River July 2016 Offshore smallmouth staged on current breaks was the setup for this contest. Drop shots worked best and you can tell by the lures chosen by the top finishers.
- St. Lawrence River July 2017 Topwaters early, drop shot rigs later in the day. Both worked for smallmouth out deep and largemouth up shallow in a derby that showcased how lure choices can be matched to the conditions for both bass species.
- Oneida Lake July 2017 Smallmouth in feeding mode on offshore humps where the baitfish spawned and schooled, making them prime for getting ambushed by hungry predators. Jerkbaits dominated and you can see why in this show-all lure gallery.
- Cayuga Lake June 2016 Sight fishing or staying offshore and focusing on luring bass from grassy shoals. Both patterns were in play in this summertime event that showcased the best lures for smallmouth in such conditions.
- St. Lawrence River August 2015 “I had about 20 rods on the deck.” You heard that a lot in this summertime derby that took a lot of lures and patterns to get the job done right. Find out the narrowed-down choices that can work for you in the summer.
- Lake Norman May 2018 Spinnerbaits and topwaters filled in where drop shots did not at this postspawn tournament on an urban fishery that receives lots of pressure.
- Grand Lake May 2018 What began as a prespawn bite for staging bass ended as a shoreline slugfest for spawners. No secret baits ruled the week, just a textbook lineup of springtime favorites chosen by the top finishers.
- Arkansas River April 2018 Prespawn bass moved inshore each day on this river that is known for its productive backwater areas and main river channel ledges and flats. Reaction baits ruled the week and you can see the choices that can help you be successful.
- Grand Lake October 2017 Largemouth in the fall transition dictated the lure choice match their mood. That was feeding on roaming baitfish from shallow to deep.
- Lake Texoma June 2016 The tournament was dominated by anglers flipping an abundance of flooded vegetation, but there were other tactics in play. Most notably the anglers choosing to find alternatives to the flipping bite. See what their choices were and add those to your summertime arsenal.
- Winyah Bay April 2019 Stay close and fish backwater areas in a river or make a 100-mile run to nutrient-rich waters in a brackish fishery. Find out which approach worked the best and the lures used to emerge most successful.
- Lake Hartwell April 2019 A weeklong wacky rig fest for spawning largemouth. Not surprisingly the top lures were dominated by finesse tactics. See which rigs worked the best and use them for spawning conditions on your favorite lake.
- Lake Hartwell March 2018 Rods piled up on front decks of anglers boats provides a clue on what it took to be successful in this spawn matchup. Not surprisingly junk fishing was a popular pattern, and so was using lures to match the tactic.
- Winyah Bay April 2016 Vibrating jigs were the ticket for the Top 3 finishers. From there it was a wide variety of springtime lures used to be successful on this tidal bass fishery.
- Lake Murray May 2011 Sight fishing and a Blueback herring spawn were in play in this springtime spawning matchup. Drop shot rigs and swimbaits ruled as a result.
- Lake Oahe July 2018 Drop shot rigs and swimbaits ruled the week in this summertime tournament when the fish were schooled in deep and shallow water.
- Tennessee River March 2019 Rising and falling water. Warming, stained and clearing water. Lots of rain and post frontal conditions. All were in play during a prespawn tournament held under challenging conditions. Choosing lures to match the changing conditions proved most beneficial to the top anglers.
- Douglas Lake September 2018 Choose the lake or venture far up into the headwaters. You could do both but choosing the right baits to match the water conditions was a must at this early fall tournament.
- Kentucky Lake May 2018 Prespawn, postspawn and even shad spawn. All were in play as the lake’s famous ledges were cold and the shoreline action was hot.
- Douglas Lake September 2017 The cooler, current- and nutrient-rich waters of the barely navigable upper lake was the ticket for the winner and top finishers. Reaction and finesse lures were the top producers.
- Chickamauga Lake April 2017 Sight fishing and spinning tackle. Add that pattern and tackle together for the sum of how the anglers fished in this tournament underway during the spawn.
- Cherokee Lake February 2017 High-definition screens with high tech features made this event a “video game” fishing kind of tournament. Find the fish, dial into them with the right bottom coverage baits. That sums up this wintertime tournament.
- Lake Fork May 2019 A shad spawn early, tracking down postspawn bass later in the day. That meant topwaters and reaction baits to catch the biggest bass swimming in this trophy impoundment.
- Lake Travis May 2018 One hundred bass days. Largemouth caught from inches of water to 40 feet deep. You could do it all in this tournament held during the spawn.
- Sam Rayburn May 2017 Postspawn largemouth on the move with the fish circulated throughout the water column. What to use when the bite is so wide open? Find out the top choices and use them on your favorite lake.
- Lake Conroe March 2017 All phases of the spawn, plus a shad spawn and rising temperatures provided plenty of options for the tournament week.
- Lake Champlain August 2017 Wacky rigs and drop shots proved their versatility in this tournament held when the bass were schooled on offshore structure.
- James River August 2017 A sluggish bite during the dog days of summer on a tidal fishery. If you are faced with such challenging conditions get a primer on where to start with these lures chosen by the top finishers.
- Upper Mississippi River June 2018 Bass fishing went to the frogs in a tournament held during high water that flooded backwater areas and had the fish scattered throughout.
- Upper Mississippi River September 2016 Post-front conditions following heavy rain made this matchup a challenge. Current played a role in the patterns and lure choices of the top finishers.