BASS Bull Shoals Lake Baits, Gear & Patterns

Jason Christie's Winning Pattern Baits & Gear

Not a single day at the Bull Shoals Basssmaster Elite Series transpired the way Jason Christie thought it would. He kept having to come up with Plan Bs, and the result of all those fallback moves was yet another Grade-A performance for the 39-year-old Oklahoman. He captured his second tour-level victory in as many weeks, rallying from 11th place on the final day with a tournament-best 18-pound sack. He came to the event from just down the White River at Beaver Lake, where he'd won the annual FLW Tour derby there just 8 days earlier. His 56-08 total for 4 days resulted in the first of what is likely to be multiple Elite Series triumphs. He outdistanced runner-up Fred Roumbanis by 1-02. Christie, who moved into the top slot this week in the BassFan World Rankings, missed the first day of practice to participate in a charity event the day after his FLW victory. He assumed that sight-fishing would be the dominant tactic once he arrived at Bull Shoals, but the fish weren't as far along in the reproduction ritual as many thought they would be, and a major storm that caused a postponement of day 1 set them back even further. "I didn't get out there until Tuesday, and then I struggled, to be honest," he said. "I caught a couple on a Spook just fishing the bank and then a couple doing other things. "The next day at about 11 or 12 (o'clock) I started Carolina-rigging in the 10- to 20-foot range and started to get some bites, and I decided that was what I needed to do. I had to pick an area and run around and catch as much as I could, and then just keep learning during the tournament."


The delayed opening day was beset by winds that topped 20 mph and even exceeded 30 at times. Being highly familiar with the region's impoundments, Christie, who spent nearly the entire tournament in a single creek channel far up the White River near Lead Hill, opted to scrap his C-rig plan. "In the Ozarks, when the wind blows and it gets nasty, you go to the bank and throw a crankbait and a spinnerbait," he said. "I felt confident that I could catch some Carolina-rigging, but I decided to go shallow and crank for awhile. "Luckily, the first place I stopped I caught one, and then at the next place I caught three. That all happened pretty quick, and all I ended up doing that first day was cranking." He ended the day tied for 4th place, but surrendered 10 positions on day 2. "I thought maybe since the sky was still (cloudy) early I could catch a couple cranking, but all I caught was a few shorts so I went back to Carolina-rigging. That was by far the toughest day for me and I really struggled. I got a few bites and I lost a few that really hurt. "I actually only had four fish when I made my last cast of the day right by the take-off, and I got one that was almost 3 pounds." He slipped inside the 12-cut on day 3 via still another mode. "I started that day Carolina-rigging and I fished two places and didn't do any good. The water level kept getting higher and higher and the day before I'd seen some bushes that were starting to get water in them. I happened to be close by, so I decided to try flipping them. "I got four keepers out of that first stretch, so I did that all day. What I also learned that day, being able to see into all that shallow water, was that there was no big fish up (to spawn). I never caught or even saw one over 2 1/2 pounds, and that made me really convinced that sight-fishing just wasn't going to happen." On the final day, he was on his way to his second stretch of bushes when he came across a huge population of bass that were busting shad on the surface. He used a Spook over the next 2 hours to compile the weight that would carry him to victory. "The pocket I was coming from and the one I was going to were only about 400 or 500 yards apart, and in between is where they were schooling," he said. "It was Monday and there was no locals out fishing, and it was dead-calm and extremely quiet. I felt like a bird dog on point on the front of that boat and by the time it was over, my neck was sore from looking around so much. "I could see the balls of shad on the top of the water start to get nervous, and then a (bass) would blow through it. Right when those shad got to the top, you had to knock them right in the head."

Winning Gear:

Topwater gear: 6'6" medium-action Falcon Cara rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 30-pound unnamed braided line with 15-pound unnamed monofilament leader, Heddon One Knocker Spook (pearl shad). He said the color of the bait was extremely important. "In that real clear water it just looks transparent. Those shad look real faint in color, and that's how that Spook is colored. It's almost sky-blue."

Flipping gear: 7'3" heavy-action Falcon Cara swimbait rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel (7.1:1 ratio), 20-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon line, 1/2-ounce tungsten weight, Lazer TroKar Flippin' hook hook, Yum Wooly Bug (green-pumpkin/purple).

Carolina-rig gear: 7'6" medium-heavy Falcon Cara Mike McClelland Signature Series rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel (7.1:1 ratio), 14-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon main line, 3/4-ounce weight, glass bead, barrel swivel, 12-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon leader, 4/0 Lazer TroKar hook, YUM Lizard (watermelon). "I was using a pretty lengthy leader (about 5 feet) and I think that was one of the problems I was having with hookups," he said. "But with that water being so clear, I wanted the bait as far away from the weight as I could get it. It was pretty awkward to cast."

Cranking gear: 7' medium-action Falcon Cara rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel (5.1:1 ratio), 10-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon, Bomber 6A (green crawdad).

Main factor: "I think it was just fishing the conditions. Every day I tried what had worked the day before for a little bit, then I'd just scramble around and fish. When you're fishing the White River chain, you have to fish the conditions. If the wind's blowing you get on something that's moving, and if not you drag something or fish light line. The chain is full of fish and they're not just on specific spots  those lakes have got fish everywhere."

Performance edge: "I made a long run every day and I'm thrilled with how well my (Ranger) 520C with the Mercury is running. I'm just amazed at its dependability."

Bull Shoals Elite Series Winning Pattern Bassfan 4/24/13 (John Johnson)

Fred Roumbanis' Pattern, Baits & Gear

Fred Roumbanis ran all over the lake each day to compile an average of just over 14 pounds per day, never expecting to get more than a single bite at each stop. He threw a swimbait, a jerkbait and a spinnerbait some in the mornings, then usually spent the latter part of each day in finesse mode. Knowing he needed a big bag on the final day, he tossed the swimbait exclusively. "I felt pretty good going in," he said. "I'd fished that FLW (at Beaver Lake) the week before and I was keying on the 17- to 18-foot range, so the first thing I did was go to that depth and I started catching them finesse-fishing. "A lot of the fish in practice would just grab the end of the worm again and again, so I knew there were good ones spawning deep. I knew I had to stay deep, but I really had no area that I wanted to fish. I got bit all over the place. "I was moving the boat about 100 times a day," he continued, "and sometimes I wouldn't even put the trolling motor down."

Finesse gear: 7'2" medium-action iRod Power/Finesse rod, unnamed spinning reel, 8-pound P-Line 100% fluorocarbon line, 3/16-ounce Picasso or Gamakatsu shaky-head jigs, El Grande Lures Hatch Match Stick (green-pumpkin) or Zoom Finesse Worm (green-pumpkin).

Swimbait gear: 7'11" medium-action iRod Crank Launcher, Ardent Edge Elite casting reel (6.5:1 ratio), 20-pound P-Line 100% fluorocarbon, size 1 Gamakatsu round-bend treble hook, 5" Optimum BLT swimbait (sweet tooth). His jerkbait was an Ima Flit 120 (ghost minnow) and the spinnerbait was a Pepper's Custom Baits model.

Main factor: "That water's so clear, it reminds me so much of fishing in California (where he grew up). I had some knowledge of how to find fish that were spawning in deep, clear water."

Performance edge: "I'd say the reliability of my Triton/Mercury for allowing me to run around so much."

Bull Shoals Patterns 2-5 Bassfan 4/25/13 (John Johnson)

Cliff Prince's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Cliff Prince finished 95th at Bull Shoals as an Elite Series rookie in 2012, so his showing last week was quite a turnaround. It was also his second consecutive single-digit showing - he was 5th at Falcon. "I knew the fish lived in (Bull Shoals) because I'd caught them good last time I was there," he said. "But last time, I was catching 11-pound bags while everybody else was catching 13. This time I just tried to run new water each day and tried to build on what I'd done up to that point, and I got one good fish every day doing that. "What I keyed on was the last bit of deep water in the back of a pocket. Most of the stuff would be 30 feet (deep), but if there was a hole close to the bank that was 40 or 50 feet, those smallmouth were staging there. The fish were anywhere from 15 to 25 feet down and if I caught one there, it was a good one."

Shaky-head gear: 6'10" medium action Duckett Fishing White Ice Jason Williamson Signature Series rod, Lew's Speed Spin spinning reel, 8-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line or 10-pound Seaguar Senshi monofilament line with 8-pound InvizX leader, 1/4-ounce Booyah Big Show jighead, 6" YUM Mightee Worm (green-pumpkin) or 6" homemade straight-tail worm. He also caught a few fish on a Carolina rig with a YUM Mightee Craw (green-pumpkin) and a few on an unnamed tube with a 1/4-ounce insider jighead.

Main factor: "Just keeping my head down and keeping a positive attitude about everything."

Performance edge: "Those Duckett rods are so light and sensitive. That was important because I was fishing deep, where it can be really hard to feel a bite."

Bull Shoals Patterns 2-5 Bassfan 4/25/13 (John Johnson)

Britt Myers' Pattern, Baits & Gear

Britt Myers, the runner-up at Bull Shoals in 2012, and Brandon Palaniuk, the winner of last year's event, both found the same group of big fish way up the White River during practice. Then the powerful storm that caused the postponement of day 1 blew in, and those fish were nowhere to be found once the tournament finally got under way on Friday. He rooms with Terry Scroggins (the eventual 6th-place finisher) and Gerald Swindle (17th), and Scroggins had told him that the down-lake bite was hot, so he switched his focus to the lower end. "It ended up being almost the same as last year - you could catch all the shallow fish you wanted, but if you got out a little bit deeper, they were a little larger. You needed several of those 3-pound bites every day to get up into that 13-pound range.

Shaky-head gear: 6'8" medium action Pinnacle spinning rod, Pinnacle spinning reel, 8-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line, 3/16-ounce War Eagle shaky-head jig, Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper worm (green-pumpkin).

Main factor: "Working as a team with Swindle and Scroggins. I knew some big fish lived up north in the Lead Hill area and I spent 2 days of practice up that way, but I got some really good information from those guys about what was going on in other places."

Performance edge: "The Pinnacle rod and reel. The rod is super-sensitive, but it was still able to handle those fish. The fish were super-strong in that clear water."

Bull Shoals Patterns 2-5 Bassfan 4/25/13 (John Johnson)

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