1. Catching the tournament’s heaviest bag — 27.14 — on Day 3, Christian Ostrander secured most of his fish by targeting a rocky point in Konocti Bay with a Strike King 6XD in the red craw color. He added a few keepers on a 1/2-ounce brown/purple California Reservoir Lures football jig with a Yamamoto Double Tail Grub in cinnamon purple.
2. Targeting shallow, rocky shorelines with docks, second-place Kasey Rhyme fished a homemade 3/8-ounce football jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw trailer and a homemade 3/8-ounce vibrating jig with a green pumpkin Z-Man Razor ShadZ trailer.
Difference Maker: Rhyme noted that his Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon provided the toughness he needed for a rocky environment, along with low memory for optimal performance.
Difference Maker: Because fish often miss moving baits, Klein allowed himself more “give” with a 7-3 Powell fiberglass cranking rod and a 7.3:1 Abu Garcia Revo SX carrying 15-pound Berkley Big Game monofilament.
4. A one-two punch did the job for fourth-place William Ponting. He threw a 1/2-ounce white Strike King Premier Plus Double Take Buzzbait and followed up with 5-inch purple blue flake Yamamoto Senko Texas rigged on a 5/0 hook with a 1/8-ounce weight.
Difference Maker: The buzzbait comes prerigged with a Sabre point trailer hook. Ponting caught 6-pounders the first day and third days — both hooked on the trailer.
5. Keeping it simple and effective, Chris Parks caught his fish on a 1/2-ounce green and brown Dirty Jigs flipping jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Chunk trailer and a 3/16-ounce shaky head with a 6-inch Roboworm in the margarita mutilator color.
Difference Maker: Lowrance Structure Scan enabled Parks to understand rock pile position and formation. This was crucial for keeping his casts in the right zones.
6. APEX pro Shane Pierson threw a Strike King 6XD in red craw color, a 1/2-ounce white Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer, a 1/2-ounce unnamed tandem silver willow-leaf spinnerbait with a 4.8 Keitech Swing Impact (Tennessee shad) trailer and a white Snagproof PHAT Popping Frog.
Difference Maker: Adjusting with the weather helped Peirson’s performance. When the wind died, he turned to the frog’s slower, methodical presentation. Also, windy periods blew algae around and fish loaded under this cover, so he was mindful of such movement.
7. In seventh place, APEX pro Luke Johns fished a River2Sea Bully Wa II frog in the Little Allen color, a custom ayu color fluke style bait with a line-through treble and a Lucky Craft LV 500 (ayu and wagasaki).
Difference Maker: Johns lauded his Dobyns 806 fiberglass cranking rod for providing the right action when ripping his bait through grass. Also, when algae blew into his area on Day 2, switching from an ayu LV 500 to the wagasaki color yielded instant results by way of his 6 1/2-pounder.
8. APEX pro Phillip Dutra said he had 31 rods in his locker and probably used 28 of them in the tournament. Top producers were a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin Bobby D’s Custom Baits Football Jig with a green pumpkin craw trailer, a Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog (white, chartreuse, black), a 1/2-ounce chartreuse custom buzzbait, a River2Sea Whopper Plopper (bone, bluegill), a Toxic Baits wakebait in a custom baitfish color and a Texas-rigged beaver style bait in bluegill color with multiple weight sizes.
Difference Maker: Using a broad diversity of baits and fishing the entire lake all three days was Dutra’s formula for success. His goal was to cover as much water as possible and show the fish multiple looks to trigger bites amid heavy fishing pressure.
9. Sticking with his strength, Ish Monroe caught all of his fish by targeting docks with his signature River2Sea Phat Mat Daddy frog in the yellow head color.
Difference Maker: Knowing that baby yellow-headed black birds falling from nests create a slow moving target, Monroe walked his frog at a creeping pace to mimic that image of vulnerability.
10. Day-1 leader Christopher Dabbs caught his fish on a 3/8-ounce homemade brown football jig with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, a 3/4-ounce chartreuse shad Revenge spinnerbait with double willow-leaf blades and a 3.28 Keitech Fat Swing Impact in pro blue pearl, a 1/4-ounce Frenzy Baits Nail with a Zoom Trick Worm in green pumpkin black flake, a Luckycraft 1.5 squarebill in ghost minnow and a chartreuse Rod Strader buzzbait.
Difference Maker: Fishing unpressured areas was key. When Dabbs realized the main spot he wanted to fish had several boats on it, he regrouped and located an alternate area that he had all to himself.