Top Lures at Watts Bar Open | Bass Angler Magazine
A hint of early fall in east Tennessee signaled the beginning of a transition at the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Watts Bar. Cooler overnight temperatures opened a prime window of opportunity for a topwater bite. Cash in early and move on to other options. Many were playing the game in heavy vegetation throughout the lake, or capitalizing on the lake’s classic Tennessee River ledges for bigger bass.
Tyler Williams took the latter option, scoring the win with daily limits of 14-15, 14-6 and 11-15 for a cumulative weight of 41 pounds, 4 ounces. Williams targeted isolated current-washed bottom cover, aiming casts at those ambush points with a staple lure for Tennessee River ledge fishing, a heavy jig bumped along the bottom.
Bobby Lane Jr. (10th; 30-5)
Lane took advantage of early morning, cooler water temperatures with a topwater bite, and then switched to a flipping pattern later in the day.
Ish Monroe (9th; 31-2)
Monroe did what he does best, which is deploy a pattern for fishing heavy vegetation and isolated shoreline targets with baits he designed, not surprisingly including a topwater frog.
That choice was a River2Sea Ish Monroe Phat Mat Daddy Frog.
For more open water in the grass, Monroe used this River2Sea Whopper Plopper.
Wesley Gore (8th; 34-3)
Gore rotated between a drop shot and bladed jig.
Chase Henley (7th; 34-5)
Henley covered both strike zones with a topwater for the early morning bite and then a flipping package for later in the day. For that pattern he flipped soft plastics to isolated brushpiles forming current breaks and ambush points during power generations.
Jason Lambert (6th; 35-0)
Lambert capitalized on an early morning bite with a topwater, and he then switched to a vibrating jig later in the day.
For the morning bite he used this ARKFishing TS115 Topwater Slider.
After the topwater bite subsided, Lambert switched to this 1/2-ounce vibrating jig.
John Garrett (5th; 36-4)
Garrett ran a pattern of flipping isolated brushpiles and vegetation during periods of current generation when the bass were most active.
A primary bait was a Strike King Cut-R Worm, rigged on a 4/0 Owner J Hook, with a 5/16-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Bullet Weight.
Using the same hook and weight, Garrett also used a Strike King Rage Menace Worm.
Greg Bohannan (4th; 36-11)
Bohannan used a buzzbait for an early morning bite and a bladed jig later in the day. For pressured bass, he downsized both baits for added strike appeal.
For topwater action, he used this 1/4-ounce Strike King Sugar Buzz Buzzbait, with a trailer hook.
Bohannan also used this 1/2-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Thunder Cricket, with a Strike King Rage Tail Menace Grub.
Trey McKinney (3rd; 37-10)
McKinney alternated between a swimbait and structure jig to cover his strike zone.
JT Thompkins (2nd; 38-13)
Thompkins maximized his strike zone coverage with an early morning topwater bite, followed by a jig thrown around deep, rocky bottoms.
For early morning, he used this Strike King Sexy Dawg Hard Knock.
Later in the day, he switched to this 3/4-ounce Outkast Tackle Elite Touchdown Football Jig, with a Strike King Rage Bug for a trailer.
Tyler Williams (1st; 41-4)
Williams fished offshore ledges with a jig.
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