Large and in Charge at CayugaSubmitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
The career of a pro bass fisherman can be one that is fickle. It can be a roller-coaster of highs and lows. It can take a sudden turn for the worse, or a huge break could be around the very next corner. Nothing could be more true of this past week’s BASS Elite event at Cayuga Lake in Union Springs, NY. It was filled with excitement, surprises, plot twists and disappointment rivaled only by that of a daytime TV drama.
In terms of success, Team Strike King crushed it. Not only were 3 of the top 6 finishers our guys, and 8 of our guys made the top 50 cut, but KVD represented Strike King with the win. That’s his 2nd win in the last 3 events and Strike King’s 3rd straight in as many.
On one end of the spectrum, this tournament saw Strike King’s Greg Hackney, who was the Angler of the Year points leader, get DQ’d and fall to last place due to an accidental infraction of a local “private property” law. On the other it saw another Strike King pro, Jordan Lee, in his sophomore season on the Elite Series lead from the starting gate until the final weigh in to finish in second. This was Lee’s highest finish to date, but everyone certainly feels that it won’t his highest to come. And, on the highest end of the spectrum, we witnessed the most dominant tournament angler ever, Kevin VanDam, put a punctuation mark on his statement season coming off of the worst stretch of his BASS career.
Here are some notes, quotes, and insights from our first and second place anglers about their individual performance and experiences at Cayuga:
KVD – 1st Place – 71 lb. 13 Oz.:
Cayuga is a great fishery that has a ton of fish in it. We caught them better this time than we ever have before and that had a lot to do with timing as well as the weather conditions. It was real sunny and slick the first 3 days of our event and allowed us to really see what fish were still up bedding as well as to be able to see and cast to the holes in the grass and other areas that would likely hold fish. The final day the weather changed. The wind blew and it got choppy. I had to change up my strategy, but it all worked out in the end.
I caught the vast majority of my fish this week on Strike King Perfect Plastics. Most of which were caught on a 5” Ocho. Although, I did catch several on the newer 4” Ocho when I needed a little more of a finesse offering on my drop shot or wacky rigged. I typically Texas rigged the 5” with a 1/8 Tour Grade Tungsten weight and 14 lb. Fluoro. I would refer to it as a “finesse Flippin’” setup.
My boat looked like an Ocho graveyard. I was going through 8-10 bags a day. That’s how many fish I was catching. It was unreal.
I primarily used 2 colors: Blue Craw (#108) and Honey Candy (#189).
The Ocho has always been special. The octagonal shape really enhances the action, or “quiver” on the fall. It also has exactly the right amount of salt that weights it just right. We have made a few subtle running changes to the Ocho in the past year and we’ve got it really dialed in. It casts great and has the perfect action and fall rate. There are a lot of baits out there in this style, but I’d put the Ocho against any of them.
I also caught several on the all-new Half Shell which will be debuted at Icast. It’s a great compliment to a Dream Shot when dropshotting. It has its own unique profile and darting action. The Half Shell will be a huge player, especially on smallmouth fisheries. I used it solely in a bed-fishing capacity this week and would alternate through several colors until I found one that an individual fish would react to.
The final day, with the wind, it opened up some opportunity for me to do something that I have a lot of confidence in, and that’s throwing a jerkbait. I picked up a KVDJ300 in Clearwater Minnow (#684) and caught 3 keepers that I weighed in.
Our product line has become so well rounded that I had every tool that I needed for any scenario. From sight-fishing for bedders, to flipping holes in the grass, to throwing a jerkbait, our product line and color offerings afford me the tools that I need to compete and win.
Jordan Lee – 2nd Place – 70 lb. 12 oz.:
I didn’t have what I would call a great practice. I had a few largemouth bites, but really didn’t know what I had because I didn’t want to lean on them during practice. I did know, as dis several others, that the smallmouth bedding bite was happening. The problem was that there just wasn’t that many of them. There turned out to be about just enough for everyone to catch them on day one.
My day one consisted sight-fishing for the bedding smallies. I relied on a Dream Shot (Green Pumpkin Sapphire #175) on a drop shot exclusively. I caught a really good bag pretty easy.
Day two was a little different as there wasn’t a ton of bedding fish left. They pretty much got smoked the first day. I did manage to catch 2 bedders pretty early on day 2 and then I spent some time looking for more bed fish with no success. I then decided to run up north to where I got a few bites in practice. That turned out to be great move as the first three I caught were a 3, one close to 5, and one over 5. I had 21 lbs. and some change on Friday and like I had really started to dial in my stuff up north. I caught all of them on the dropshot as well.
Day 3 I had a real solid day. I maintained the lead. I had a good bag of fish but no big ones. They were all pretty much the same size.
Day 4 was nothing like the first 3 days. The wind blew out of the south. This lake runs north and south, so a south wind really churns it up. It got real choppy and you couldn’t see the holes in the grass that I had been keying on. After struggling out on my grass flat, I had to make a move.
I went to some boat dock that I found to have fish on them during practice. The size didn’t seem to be as good, but there was a ton of fish around them. I managed to catch several largemouth by skipping a wacky-rigged 5” Ocho in Honey Candy (#189) around and under the docks.
I used one primary spinning setup all week. A Quantum 725 Tour Rod and an Exo reel. It’s my go-to spinning setup.
I think that having both smallmouth and largemouth to fish for was rely key for me. I pretty much knew what I had as far as the smallmouth went as I could see them during practice. The largemouth was what turned out to be the difference-maker as I knew I could get bit, I just didn’t have a real good feel for how big they were.
It was great tournament. You’re always a little bummed when you get that close and don’t win, but I put myself in position and I fished really clean. Finishing second behind VanDam isn’t something to be ashamed of.