Strike King News

Bustin’ Em’ on Barnett

Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media

This past week’s Elite Series event on Ross Barnett Reservoir in Mississippi was not only a battle between the anglers and the fish, but also with Mother Nature. A weather system moving through the area was not only strong enough to mess up areas and destroy patterns, it was severe enough to warrant postponing the final day of the event. Championship Sunday was held on Monday at the discretion of the tournament director. However, not even Mother Nature could stop the best anglers in the world from doing their job of catching bass.

The event was won by Elite Series Rookie Dustin Connell. He had a 4-day weight of 64lb-13oz. He also had a trio of Strike King Pro’s breathing down his neck. Here is the low down on how our guys caught their fish.

5th – Mark Menendez – 57lb-7oz

“My practice was fairly solid. I had multiple things working. I was keying on a shad spawn deal, but it was dwindling. I had some buzzbait fish up the river, I had some punching fish, and I had some flipping fish on docks.”

Mark Menendez

“The weather conditions really dictated what I could do. The first 2 days I had wind and clouds so I picked up a 1/2 oz. Strike King spinnerbait. I had to present my spinnerbait high in the water column as they were very shallow against the face of the dam. I had 3 stretches of about 60 yards where I found the fish and shad on the bank using my Garmin PanOptix. The shad had to be on the bank to get a bite.”

"Day 3 my spinnerbait/Shad Spawn went away and I had to revert to flipping and pitching docks. There were very specific scenarios in which the wind was hitting certain dock corners and pilings the hardest, and the dock had to be in 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet and the boat in 4 1/2 to 5 ft. I used a 3/8 ounce black and blue jig with a black and blue Rage Craw. It was tricky with the high wind. The bite was extremely light. In fact, I don’t think I ever actually felt one. I would just pick up on it and the fish would have it and be swimming off.”

“My efficiency was nearly perfect in this event. I only lost one fish the entire tournament, and that was a good one on day 2. My flipping percentage was 100%.”

“My whole strategy was to finish areas that would replenish. I had basically the whole dam and my dock flipping spot to myself. I also keyed on areas that wouldn’t be blown out, or negatively affected as bad by the incoming weather.”

“This was probably one of the smartest tournaments that I’ve fished in years and the results speak for themselves.”

“I used 7’3” Lew’s Custom Lite for the spinnerbait with 6:8:1 Lew’s reel with 17 pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon. I used a 7’6” Lew’s Custom Lite Flipping Stick with a 7:5:1 Lew’s Magnesium reel with 20 pound Seaguar AbrasX for my dock flipping fish.”


3rd – Jonathan VanDam – 59lb-4oz

"I caught most all my fish on a KVD 300 jerkbait in Chartreuse Sexy Shad. I keyed on little saddles and points that had scattered lily pads and submerged grass. Basically, places where the fish were pushing bait out of the deeper water in a pocket into shallower "ambush-type" areas.”

“Most of the fish I caught were in 5 to 7 feet. Most of the centers of the pockets were about 10 feet and the bass were pushing the bait up against those shallower feeding spots.”

“Most of my spots were either in a backwater or between backwaters.”

“I also caught a lot of fish on a black KVD Sexy Frog throughout the week. I would throw it over the pads and vegetation that I was throwing the jerkbait around.”

“Another key was that the more open pockets with less vegetation were better than the thicker ones. The bass didn’t seem to want to come through the thick stuff to get a bait.”

2nd - Kevin VanDam – 62lb-10oz

“It really changed a lot from practice throughout the tournament with the changing weather conditions. In practice, I thought a 3/8 white double-Colorado would be the deal. It was a total shad spawn deal. I also found a few spots where the bass were grouped up and I could catch them on a jerkbait.”


“On day 1 I really struggled to catch any size. It was my worst day. I caught a few on a spinner bait and caught several on a KVD J300 jerkbait in Sexy Shad.”

“Day 2 I started out catching them good on a Tour Grade buzzbait and a Sexy Frog. Then it just died…. I then found an area where there was clear water in a backwater and I smashed them on the jerkbait. I culled everything in my livewell with the jerkbait. Day 2 was kind of a turning point where I really dialed in the jerkbait bite.”

"On the third day, my backwater spot had turned to chocolate milk, so I had to look for new water. I found another backwater that had similar conditions where the mud was pushing clear water in. I crushed them there on a 3/8 Pure Poison, KVD J300 and a KVD Splash and a spinnerbait. I caught them literally in all water columns from top to bottom. I ended up with 18 something.”

“The final day was more of the same. The Pure Poison and a swim Jig where what produced best for me. Late in the day, right before I came in, I stopped where I had caught a big one in practice and caught a 5 1/2 pounder that really helped flipping a Texas rigged Rage Craw.”

“My Hydrowave was a huge key. There was a lot of shad in the area and I could get the shad active and the bass would get fired up start schooling.”

“A lot of people got to see the power of a jerkbait in dirty water here. Jonathan knew about it too and made it work. It is something that not many people do, but really works when the conditions are just right. You just have to get out of the mindset that a jerkbait is for cold, clear water. The KVD J300 will catch them about anywhere.”

Bait Info:

  • KVDJ300 was Sexy Shad and Sexy Blueback
  • Spinnerbait was white
  • Swim Jig Sexy Shad with white Rage Craw
  • Pure Poison was white with a white Menace
  • KVD Splash was Summer Sexy Shad