Keith Combs – 3rd Place
Keith amassed a solid four day weight of 71 lbs. 2 oz. That included the heaviest bags weighed in on each of the final 2 days. Keith came into this event reeling from what he described as a “terrible” practice.
He had a 9th place finish here in last year’s event and felt good about coming back. He spent some time on the water during pre-practice and that is when he located the area that would eventually help him catch the fish that he weighed in on 3 of the 4 days.
“Practice was terrible. I really didn’t feel like I had anything to go on. I had found that area in Lake Woodruff but I also knew that it was at least a 2 hour boat ride to get there. That doesn’t allow you any time to make a mistake or have a problem. So, the first day of the tournament I went to where I had caught them last year and although there were some bites there, I quickly realized that the quality wasn’t going to be what I needed to do well. I caught a 12-6 limit that left me in the middle of the pack. After a great deal of thought, I decided to gamble the second day and make the run to Lake Woodruff. I’m sure glad I did.”
Combs not only ran 2 hours to Lake Woodruff, he began running up the pounds of his total weight. He jumped from his first day position of 46th to 20th after the second day. He had made a good call and felt like things were getting right for him. He realized after day 2 that his area was good enough to allow him to do all the damage that he needed in a short 3 hours of fishing each day. He knew that he was going to stick it out in Woodruff and ultimately, it ended in his best finish in his Elite career.
“There were about five guys in there with me but they were kind of wadded up in one little section of the lake. I pretty much had my area all to myself. It was a pretty cool spot. It had a shell bottom and thick milfoil. It was a prime bedding area. There was one stretch that must have had 100 beds and hundreds of little males swimming around. Every now and then, you’d ease over there and check it and a big female would have moved up.”
Keith’s weapons of choice were Strike King soft plastics. He used a junebug colored Game Hawg the first day, which he claims to be his “go-to bedding bait”. He rigged it on a 4/0 Hack Attack Heavy Cover Flippin’ Hook and a 5/16 Strike King Tour Grade tungsten weight. The fish that he caught the remainder of the event were all caught on a Strike King Shim-E-Stik in green pumpkin. It was rigged with the same 4/0 Hack Attack hook, but was anchored with a 3/16 ounce Tour Grade tungsten weight.
“I normally whack bedding fish on that Game Hawg, but the fish in Woodruff were really not eating it as well. There was something that they like about the subtlety of the Shim-E-Stick. It’s real soft and I could make it shake on the bed without having to move the bait too much. Those big females couldn’t stand it!”
“Looking back, I’m excited about starting my season off with a 3rd place finish. I fished well and managed to come back from a bad practice and that is always gratifying. The only down side, if there is one, is that if I had gone to Lake Woodruff the first day, who knows what might have happened."
Greg Hackney – 8th Place
Hack Attack started the event and his 2012 tour campaign in a big way with a monster sack that weighed 23-14. His weight was anchored by a 10-9 goliath that stood as big fish of the event and is currently the Carhartt Big Bass of the year. His day one weight left him in second place by 2 ounces and very hopeful about the next three days.
During the second day of competition, Greg’s weight fell off significantly, but he didn’t let that deter him. He rallied back on day three with a 19-4 sack that included another giant, a 7-11. The fourth and final day was the toughest on Greg as he brought in 5 that weighed 6-4. He managed to pull out an 8th place finish and a strong start to the season.
“I really can’t complain. I fished good and caught everything that bit. I lost one on the second day and ended up catching it on the third day. I did the best that I could with what I had to work with and capitalized on all my opportunities.”
“I was 100% bed fishing, but I only actually saw about 5 of the 20 that I weighed in. The rest were bedding fish that I just couldn’t see. The water down there was just this tannic black color that’s hard to explain. It actually made bait color selection critical. I like my baits to kind of blend into the water color and I found black & blue and black neon to work the best and my fish came about half and half on each of those colors.”
“I caught all but 4 of my fish on a 4” Strike King Rodent, and those came on a Shim-E-Stik. I rigged the Rodent on a 6/0 Hack Attack Heavy Cover Flippin’ Hook and 3/8 Tour Grade tungsten weight. I rigged the Shim-E-Stik on a 5/0 Hack Attack Hook and a 3/16 Tour Grade tungsten weight."
“I stuck that 10-9 in a foot of water on the Rodent. It was the strongest fish that I’ve ever caught. I jacked her with that 6/0 Hack Attack Hook and just held on. I honestly don’t know that I ever turned the reel handle."
The first event is now in the books and Team Strike King had a great showing. Congratulations to these guys as well as Alton Jones who won the event. Check back as we keep you updated on the finishes, techniques, and thoughts of the Strike King Team during the remainder of the 2012 tournament season.