My cell was ringing throughout the tournament.
And more often than not, the question pertained to identifying exactly what Bassmaster Elite angler Chris Lane was throwing during the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend.
As most of you know, Lane from Guntersville, Alabama, earned second place ranking during the tournament with 20 hefty bass weighing 88 pounds, 7 ounces.
If you watched the LIVE stream at Bassmaster.com in conjunction with BassTRAKK, then you would know that he appeared to be spending most of his time fishing south of Cypress Bend along the eastern shallow shorelines.
It was the Whopper Plopper that caught the attention of most local bass anglers as it is a bait that was little used on the Bend prior to the Elite tournament.
When watching the LIVE stream, Lane was targeting flooded grass and cypress trees along the shoreline.
Lane would make long casts with these baits parallel to the shoreline on the outer edges of the grass especially at points and near other structure.
He would use a medium-fast retrieve similar to the one used when working a buzzbait, and the segmented, churning tail of the large Whopper Plopper would emit more than enough noise to get the attention of any quality bass in the area.
On occasion, bass would clobber the lure quite violently with his average fish going 4.5 pounds.
There is no doubt Kevin VanDam’s comeback win was more significant, but there was a load of interest in Lane’s shallow-water tactics.
This could be due to the fact that most anglers spend far more time fishing shallow at Toledo Bend due to the size of their boats and the possibility of strong winds offshore.
Or . . . they just don’t relish the soreness associated with making hundreds of casts with a 2.5-ounce crankbait in deep water.
Kevin VanDam’s hard-cranking win
The winner, Bassmaster’s legendary Kevin VanDam was farther offshore out of the Housen and Six Mile areas deep-cranking Strike King’s Series 6XD, 8XD and 10XD diving crankbaits. The colors of these lures he cast were sexy blue back herring and bar fish. He also threw the 6XD and 8XD in both rattling and silent versions.
VanDam admittedly attempted to reach the 100-pounds mark on the final day but fell less than 4 pounds short yet ending with an incredible four-day, 20 fish limit weighing
96 pounds, 2 ounces.
The LIVE streaming video at Bassmaster.com confirmed he was fishing a school of great bass listing in the deep guts of channel ledges leading to major flats in Housen and Six Mile.
His Strike King Series 10XD gave him the ability to get that bait in depths of near 25 feet to entice these huge offshore bass.
The real story for certain is VanDam’s comeback win, and Bryan Brasher’s article on Bassmaster.com was excellent in addressing the crowning of the returning King.
In this weekend’s Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash tournament on Toledo Bend, I am about certain there will be many anglers in the 4,000 entries expected throwing hard baits with treble hooks inshore and offshore due chiefly to the tactics used by VanDam and Lane.
So be very careful as boats especially have a tendency to pile up close both inshore and offshore at the Indian Mounds, Housen and Six Mile.
Treble hooks are dangerous to human flesh, and KVD found that out when getting hooked in the hand when handling an 8-pounder during the tournament.
There are probably still many hefty bass both inshore and offshore at Toledo Bend, but the window for catching the double-digit lunkers is rapidly closing.
The chief complaint I heard about the tournament was the lack of respect “some” observers and anglers displayed on the water.
There were boats with tournament observers everywhere with many way too close to the Elite anglers leading to some aggravation on the water.
Some were even photographed and filmed fishing in the near vicinity of where the Elites were located.
If anglers have been watching any of Bassmaster’s LIVE stream online, there is evidence this has happened before and an ordeal that the Elites often suffer since they do compete on public waters.
But with Bassmaster’s LIVE stream and BassTRAKK available online these days, an angler can certainly learn much more information than when placing themselves near any Elite angler during competition.
It is a hope of mine that the Elite field would be treated better with regards to the behavior of observers and anglers when they return – but I know all too well the antics of human behavior.