Andy Young Wins BASS Central Open Lake Amistad

When this week began, Andy Young was looking forward to getting back home to Minnesota and clocking into his regular job doing precision sheet-metal work. What transpired over the weekend at the Lake Amistad Bassmaster Central Open had started his head spinning. "It'd gotten to the point where I didn't know what to think," he said. "For the last couple days I've been thinking about career changes and all kinds of stuff. I need to get back to my normal life so I can settle down a little." The jovial 43-year-old's unlikely victory at the Open knocked his thought process a bit past the edge of reality and was giving him ideas about chucking everything and diving into a career as a full-time angler. By Monday, though, he'd come most of the way back to Earth. Who ever heard of winning a high-level derby at that renowned Lone Star State pond with an average of a little over 13 pounds a day? Such is the reality of slumping Amistad, which is currently nowhere near the stellar fishery it's been in years past. He was more than 10 pounds behind runaway leader Randy Allen when the final day began. Then Allen weighed just one fish for 1-09, and Young swooped in and claimed the win with his standard 13-ish sack (specifically 13-11). His 39-06 total held off Elite Series pro Stephen Browning by a single ounce. It earned him more than $47,000 in cash and a slot in next year's Bassmaster Classic (provided he competes in the other two events on the circuit, which he confirmed that he will). Young arrived in the sleepy hamlet of Del Rio, Texas about a week and a half before the Open got under way. "I made a little vacation out of it," he said. "Work was kind of slow and my boss said that if I wanted to go down there and try to dial it in for awhile, that I could go for it. I ended up getting like 9 days of practice." Several of those days were abbreviated, though, as a spate of nasty weather - which would last throughout the event - had moved into the region. "It was freezing cold with high winds - just nasty. One day I went out for about an hour in the morning and just said forget it." He got an early start on his initial practice day and quickly caught a 4-pounder from about 15 feet of water on an umbrella rig, so he began running that pattern in different areas of the lake. "I didn't get a lot of bites, but once in awhile I'd catch one and it would be a big one. I was throwing it on deep flats, close to where they dropped off to deeper water. Where I caught my bigger fish there were usually brush piles or trees - something for them to hold on." He also developed a secondary gameplan that involved dropshotting rocky ledges at depths ranging from 20 to 32 feet.

Competition:

Young got only six bites on day 1, and one of those was a short fish. His bag was very solid considering the conditions, but it left him nearly 6 pounds behind Allen, whose stringer was anchored by a 10-pounder. "I wasn't really surprised because I figured somebody would catch them," he said. "What surprised me was when he did it 2 days in a row." Young managed just four bites on day 2. He'd boxed only three run-of-the-mill keepers by mid-afternoon when he connected with a 6 1/2-pounder on the umbrella rig. He'd resigned himself to fishing for 2nd place on the final day. "I really didn't think I had a chance, but a couple friends kept telling me that anything could happen, that (Allen) could blank in those tough conditions. Sure enough, he left the door open." He had a limit by 11:30 and one of those fish was a beauty - a 7 1/2-pounder that fell for the umbrella rig. "I culled two times after that and each one of them was very minor - a half-ounce here and a half-ounce there. But considering I won by 1 ounce, those two little upgrades were the key."

Winning Pattern:

Allen said the umbrella rig was most effective when it was retrieved within a few feet of the bottom. "The first time I'd cast it out and let it sink all the way down (to see how long it took), and after that I'd count it down for 10 seconds or whatever. They wanted it slow, but I was giving it some erratic jerks. "Two of the biggest ones hit when the bait was straight under the boat, and I think that had to do with the HydroWave. I had it on 'Feeding Frenzy' and turned up as loud as it would go."

Winning Gear:

Umbrella rig gear: 7'6" heavy-action Dobyns 766 SSM flipping stick, Lew's BB1 casting reel (6.3:1 ratio), 65-pound PowerPro braided line, 5- or 7-arm Hog Farmer Bait Company umbrella rig, 1/8-ounce Outkast Tackle Money jigheads, 5" Big Bite Cane Thumper swimbaits (pearl and watermelon ghost). The 5-arm bait was equipped with four spinners and the 7-arm had 12. He prefers the Outkast heads because the 4/0, heavy-wire hooks are a little smaller than the standard U-rig offerings. "They don't snag up on the branches as much and they hook the fish really well."

Dropshot gear: 7'4" medium-action Dobyns Champion Extreme rod, Lew's Gold Spin 3000 spinning reel, 8-pound P-Line fluorocarbon line, 3/16-ounce lead dropshot weight (round), 1/0 Gamakatsu dropshot hook, Biovex Kolt Fish Tail (green-pumpkin).

Main factor: "I think the biggest thing, with the weather being so bad, was me being from Minnesota and being used to it. The cold didn't really bother me. The other thing was having a simple gameplan - I had two things that worked and I just kept doing them."

Performance edge: "I really think the HydroWave made a big difference and I had the right rods for the job. The Hog Farmers made a big difference, too, and the finesse dropshot bait was huge. Without those dropshot fish, there's no way I would've won."

Amistad Open Winning Pattern Bassfan 2/13/14 (John Johnson)