St. Joe River
July 15, 2018
1st Place: Kevin & Kelly Warner
Pattern: "Key Features" in current that included seawalls, wood, and slop
Baits: Jigs, Chatterbugs, and frogs
How it Happened: "The mayfly hatch," Kelly confessed, "prompted us to go up river to get away from them. Current is always key on the river, and we went river fishing by focusing on the key features in the current." Key features were spots the current positioned fish - logs in current, inside cuts on seawalls, and any slop close to current.
2nd Place: Don Bobay & Paul Hollabaugh
Pattern: Largemouth bass on isolated log with current
Baits: ⅜ oz black & blue Poor Poor jigs with matching chunk trailer
How it Happened: It was a long day that ended with a fury. "We spent most of the morning fishing downstream and could not get anything going," admitted Hollabaugh. "When we finally went upstream, we found some current and caught some slot fish."
3rd Place: John DuPont & Andy Buss
Weight: 8.90; 4.71 - Lochness Lures Big Bass
Pattern: Largemouth bass relating to laydowns near deeper water with current
Baits: 1/2 ounce, green pumpkin 9K Elite Lures flipping jigs with matching B & N Custom Baits jig trailers
How it Happened: DuPont admitted that practice on Friday told the team to focus on, "Lay downs around deeper water." He added, "The islands seemed to produce more fish than the river banks."
4th Place: Dave Selig & Trevor Paulus
Pattern: Shallow wood and shade under hanging trees for largemouth bass
Baits: Homemade black & blue jigs
How it Happened: With 2 events remaining, Paulus and Selig now have a commanding lead in the Standings by nearly 20 points. Paulus has been fishing the river for decades and they both have extensive experience on both Lakes Webster and Maxinkuckee.
Kelly said, "We covered a TON of water!" Their main key feature was the wood, especially the biggest logs. By 9:30 they completed their limit, and they culled two times.
They quickly caught their first keeper on a piece of wood that produced a solid keeper on Friday. They went on to get 4 keeper bites and landed 3 of them. The last was the biggest. DuPont spilled the beans, "I saw a tree sticking out of the water that looked to have a dark spot right at its base (I thought maybe deeper water). I pitched to it and immediately saw my jig swimming. The fish wrapped himself around a log almost immediately. I just kept thinking to myself, don't lose this fish or Andy may push me off of this boat. Once I got it out from wrapped around to log, the boat had drifted back enough it was a quick retrieve and Andy made himself useful back netting it."
Winnings: $268 + 288 + Lochness Lures Product = $556
5th Place: Pablo Gonzalez & Bob Miller
Pattern: Largemouth that fed on the bluegill eating on the mayflies
Baits: 1/2 ounce homemade swim & flipping jigs
How it Happened: "The morning was pretty good," admitted Miller. "We had our limit by 8:30." Contrary to the victors, they felt the mayfly hatch downstream attracted bass. "We felt the mayflies
attracted bluegills, which attracted bass." Specifically, they targeted overhanging trees that were loaded with the bugs. Unfortunately, they were never able to cull.
2nd Big Bass: The team of Shaun Callaway and Jeremy Larson (left) boated a 4.25 pound beast to win $70.
6th Place: Terry Schoettmer (right) and David Brown weighed 3 fish that went 6.82 pounds. They had a 4.10 pound largemouth to lead the way and won $110.
They came to a log at end of some boats with current running up against it. Hollabaugh recalls, "As I was reaching for my Senko, Don is yelling, 'Get the net!' And he lands our biggest fish. Then, as I'm putting it in the livewell, he is yelling, 'Get the net!' again!"
Hollabaugh then caught one on a jig, before Don caught their fourth keeper. This all took place on one log in just 15 minutes during the last minutes of the tournament.
At the river, they rotated through 5 spots. "When I say 'spots,'" Paulus said, "I mean it would be one or two pieces of wood. The shallow spots we fished also coincided with the bluegill spawn going on." By 10:30 they had their limit, and they culled 2 times.
7th Place: South Division directors, John Gipson, Jr., and Tom Noe, who are also second on the All-Time Money Winners and Top-5 Finishes lists, weighed 3 fish that weighed 6.29 and won $95.