Bass Pro Tour Stage 7

Bass Pro Tour Stage 7: Recap with James Elam

The Major League Fishing returned to Table Rock for the second time in 3-weeks due to flooding at the previously scheduled Grand Lake for Stage Seven of the Bass Pro Tour. In an effort to mix things up a bit, MLF chose to have the BPT anglers compete in the evenings instead of the traditional morning to mid-afternoon competitions. We caught up with ANGLR Expert and MLF BPT Pro, James Elam, for a recap of his event.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 7: Elam’s Practice

I’ve never fished an 8-hour tournament that way. I’ve fished a few jackpots in the evening but nothing like this. But it was kind of like one of those jackpots. You just start off fishing slow where they are. You’re starting off during probably the worst part of the day. That’s why the finesse techniques really shined even more this time than when we were there a couple weeks ago fishing in the morning.

I just kind of blocked the shallow bite out from the get-go and just stuck with the dropshot and shaky head. I’d end my day on a point and maybe catch a few on a topwater right at dusk, but I didn’t try to make a call at some point in the day to abandon the deep bite and try to get lucky shallow.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 7(1)

It was totally different from transitioning from a morning bite to a deep bite.

The spawn had finally wrapped up and that was a significant change from the last time we were there. That showed big time in the lack of largemouth weighed in this time. There were a lot more spots weighed in and very few largemouth. Before it was 50/50 between the largemouth and spots.

The shad spawn was still going on a little bit, but fishing in the afternoon made it irrelevant. I caught them really well one morning in practice on the shad spawn and tried to figure out what those fish were doing after that. I started catching them pretty good on a worm and there were a few guys that caught them in those stretches cranking. But by that time of day, those fish weren’t nearly as aggressive.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 7: Elam’s Tournament

After the Shotgun Round I was in a pretty big hole but I dug myself out early in the Elimination Round and got back to within a pound of the Elimination Line. I got on some right at the end of the Shotgun Round schooled up on the side of a point. I started there during the Elimination Round but couldn’t get them to bite. They were suspended out in 90-feet of water. It was like they weren’t running water and that had them scattered.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 7(2)

I fished a few of my best points really quick and then decided I had to do something else.  

I immediately went to a dock and caught one. I found that the best docks were in the mouths of the creeks in 17 to 35-feet of water with a lot of shade. I started running those and caught back up really quick. I caught like 14 in an hour or so doing that. I’d pitch my dropshot in and those spotted bass would follow it all the way to the bottom and then bite it within a couple seconds. I’d catch 3 or 4 on each dock.

I did that through the First period and into the Second period but then I just ran out of fish. I think they turned the current on at that point and the guys started catching them out on the points like they did on the first day and I just couldn’t keep up. With as many fish as Table Rock has, if you’re not catching a fish every 5 to 10-minutes, you’re toast. And because you don’t catch a lot of big ones, it’s really hard to catch up once you fall behind.

It was a fun tournament though. I definitely like the aspect of trying something new and it was pretty cool to fish in the afternoons for a change.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 7: Looking Forward

Major League Fishing heads to Neenah, Wisconsin for the 8th and final stop of the Bass Pro Tour. The field is set to compete on Winnebago as well as two other neighboring fisheries, Lake Butte des Morts and Green Lake.

I have no idea what to expect. It looks like Winnebago is a pretty large lake and probably has smallmouth and largemouth in it but I’m just starting to look at it. The Shotgun and Elimination Rounds are on Winnebago. Then the Knockout Round will be held on a different lake and then the Championship Round will be held on a different lake. So there are three different lakes in play.

It sounds like you just have to worry about Winnebago from the get-go because if you don’t you might never even get to the other lakes. But because of the size of Winnebago, you have to worry about maybe a day getting canceled and MLF moving us to another lake. So there’s a lot to think about.

Elam’s Gear Bass Pro Tour Stage 7

Molix Sidus Worm – Green Pumpkin

Gamakatsu G-Finesse Worm Light Hook 1/0

1/4-ounce weight

Seaguar Smackdown 20-pound

Tatsu leader 8-pound

Shimano Expired 7’ Medium

Shimano Stradic Ci4+

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

Become an ANGLR Expert and apply here.

James Elam


I am a Professional Bass Fisherman from Tulsa, OK. I have qualified for 4 Bassmaster Classics and fished on the Bassmaster Elite Series for 6 years. I am a Bassmaster Elite Series Champion and a 2X Bassmaster Opens Champion. I am now headed to fish the MLF Bass Pro Tour!

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