Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Recap with James Elam

ANGLR Expert and Major League Fishing pro, James Elam, capped the inaugural season of the Bass Pro Tour off with his first Top 10 finish, finishing 10th at Stage 8 in Neenah, Wisconsin. We sat down with Elam to discuss how his event transpired across a playing field that consisted of three fisheries.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: What Was Your Mindset Going Into Stage 8 After a Tough Year? 

I’ve done this for 6 or 7 years now. No matter if I’ve come in last place in every single tournament leading up to it, when it comes to the last tournament of the year I’m not going to treat it any differently. I’m going to go and hit it as hard as I can. I don’t let the emotions get in the way. I wanted to do well in the last tournament of the year but I also wanted to do well in every tournament this year. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8(1)

It just worked out in this last one.  

I had never been up there and this was a multi-venue tournament with three different lakes, so I just looked at all that and tried to plan for it. I really expected to catch smallmouth at Winnebago. The first day I got there, I noticed the water was pretty off-color and dark. It didn’t look good for smallmouth fishing. They’re in there, but it wasn’t a clear, zebra muscles and goby infested lake. It just didn’t look right for smallmouth fishing. So I thought it might be a safe deal to go fish for largemouth. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Practice 

In practice, I really pushed the smallmouth deal on Winnebago. But I would spend the first hour or so fishing for largemouth. I focused on the west side of the lake because it had a bunch of good largemouth habitat with bays, canals, docks and stuff like that. And it had a lot more reefs and shoals for the smallmouth to be on so I was able to pop in and out and do both. 

I fished a lot of reefs, points, shoals, and humps for smallmouth. I really pushed a tube and crankbait but never really got on a good concentration of smallmouth which is what you have to do for the MLF style format. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8(2)

I could catch the largemouth pretty consistently up shallow in certain bays. I just figured I could take a swim jig, a frog, and a stick bait and catch fish in those bays.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Shotgun and Knockout Rounds – Lake Winnebago 

There were two bays right next to each other that had the best grass and good little backwaters and canals in them. I spent one morning in one and the next morning I spent in the other. You can catch those northern fish multiple times. So fishing behind someone didn’t bother me either. I actually caught two that I had broken off which was pretty interesting. That’s never happened to me down south. 

I had one place I was catching them out in the middle of this creek that had some current flow to it. The fish were out in the middle of the creek in some milfoil and pads. I stuck to the frog in there. Then I had a couple of docks I could catch some bass skipping that stick bait. Another big deal was the willow trees that would hang over and make shade. They’d be under there even if it was only six inches of water, for some reason they loves it up there under those trees. 

I had 3 places with reeds too. They were almost like sparse buggy whip type deals but I had one stretch in particular that had a ton of fish in it. I caught a lot of fish out of those both days. I had to slow down on the second day though because a lot of those fish had already been caught. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Elimination Round – Butte des Morts

The Elimination Round was on Butte des Morts. I looked at it hard but didn’t think many people were going to practice it so I didn’t either. I studied the lake though and tried to look at it similar to how I fish the Mississippi River. I looked for any little current breaks I could find or shallow water for the frog, swim jig, and stick bait type stuff I was running on Winnebago. 

I put a little game plan together and ran around a lot and did some of the same stuff I did at Winnebago. I started on 2 or 3 places that had pretty good current on them. I was trying to key in on those post-spawn fish. I also hit a few bays that had good grass and pads in them and frogged 1 or 2 fish out of each of those bays. 

But in the middle of the day, I started running out of good stuff to hit. I had already hit all the little obvious stuff where you could sit there and catch one or two, so I started running the shade lines again and caught 6 or 7 right there at the end of the day. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8(3)

That was probably the most crucial decision I made all week. 

It was mostly a swim jig deal up in the shade lines. Earlier in the day, it was a swim jig and stick bait, and I think I might have caught 3 or 4 on a frog all day. But if I missed one on the frog I could throw that stick bait back in there as a follow-up bait and catch it… every single time. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Green Lake – Championship Round 

Green Lake was more of a smallmouth bite for sure. You could catch largemouth there, and they live there, but that lake was a different bite entirely. I would have been way better off if I had taken advantage of the 2-hour ride around on Green Lake during our practice days. Unfortunately, I had some stuff come up and wasn’t able to do that. But it looked like the typical northern smallmouth type deal where they’re going to live on those little rocky deals where there are some scattered boulders and stuff like that. 

So I pushed the smallmouth from the get-go. As soon as the sun got up I could see them spawning in about 8-feet of water and I caught some of them off the bed. You could see about 22-feet when it was bright, clear, and calm… that water clarity was amazing. Especially compared to the other two lakes where the water was more tannic looking like in Florida. I found two or three of the same areas Cliff Pace (the eventual Stage 8 Champion) found but I just wasn’t doing the right stuff and fell behind. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Looking Back

It was a fun year and exciting to breakdown some new lakes. We definitely went to some smaller puddles this year for sure and I liked that. Some of the best lakes we have in the country are medium to smaller lakes that can’t support huge fields. So that was pretty cool being able to go to these smaller fisheries like the North Carolina event and then up here in Wisconsin. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: James Elams Gear

Frog Setup:

Lure – Molix Supernato Frog – black 

Rod – Shimano Poison Adrena – 7’ 2” heavy  

Reel – Shimano Metanium – 8.5:1

Line – Seaguar Smackdown – 50 pound test

Swim Jig Setup:

Lure – Molix Tenax Jig – 3/8 ounce black and blue

Rod – Shimano Expride – 7’ 2” medium heavy 

Reel – Shimano Metanium – 7.4:1

Line – Seaguar InvizX – 17 pound test

Stick Bait Setup:

Lure – Molix Sidus – green pumpkin/weightless  

Hook – Gamakatsu 3/0 EWG

Rod – Shimano Expride Spinning – 7’ 0” medium 

Reel – Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Line – Seaguar Smackdown Flash – 15 pound test 

Leader – Seaguar InvizX – 12 pound test

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+

Bass Pro Tour Stage 6: Recap with Dave Lefebre

Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Stage 6 at Table Rock is a wrap. We sat down with ANGLR Expert, Dave Lefebre, to discuss his performance on Table Rock Lake.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 6: Starting Off on the Right Foot

I think I’ve been in the top 5 in the Shotgun Round 5 out of 6 Stages, but it was the same old story on Table Rock, I lost steam after that first day. By the Knockout Round it had been 5 days since my first day of practice and the stuff I was saving just got ruined by the water falling and clearing. I ran to a completely different place on the last day and just tried to make it work but it didn’t.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 6(1)

I found one deep spot where I’d start every day and hammer on them in the first period.

Then I was leaving it. It was the kind of deal Aaron won on, but I just didn’t have enough of those kinds of places. He graphed his whole practice and found 5 or 6 and I had 1. I caught 20 fish there on the first day and left. I caught 15 the second day and left and then I caught 10 or 12 there the last day and didn’t leave right away and just kept trying to figure out how to catch them. Then I made that long run to where I thought I could get back up in the standings and it just didn’t work out.

I didn’t see any signs of catching the same fish on my main spot that I had caught on previous days. There were just a lot of fish there. The problem was on the third day it was really cloudy and they were following each other out as I would catch them. By the eighth fish that I had caught, the whole school was scattered and pulled out to 30-feet of water and it just got weird.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 6: Focusing on Baits and Areas

I fished the same California Roll worm again with the Boss Ned Rig Head and a 3-inch Senko some. I used a 7’1” Envy Medium  this time instead of the 6’10” that I use most of the time because these spots have harder mouths and I was making longer casts and they were in 20-feet of water. So, I just feel better about hooking them with that little bit longer rod.

I made that long run on my final day to flip bushes and I was shocked when I got there. The water was crystal clear and had dropped out of the bushes. There were a few bushes still in the water but the fish were very much gone. I’d think about running out of there and looking for water that wasn’t so clear, but then I would get one of those decoy bites every once in a while and I’d stay.

On the first day I was flipping a craw and a creature style bait once I left the deep hole but I couldn’t get bit. After about 45 minutes I switched to a Senko with a half ounce weight which I don’t really do a whole lot. I cut it down to like 3-inches and I got a bite on my first cast and stuck with that all three days.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 6: Looking Forward to Table Rock Round 2

MLF’s Bass Pro Tour is returning to Table Rock for Stage 7 due to flooding on Grand Lake. The event will begin only 9 days from the date that Bass Pro Tour Stage 6 wound up on Table Rock. To add a little diversity, MLF has decided to hold their competition in the afternoons, an unprecedented move for a tournament of this magnitude.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 6(2)

I think fishing in the evenings is going to help me. It’s going to be interesting to see what we do going to the same place back to back. I think we’re all going to be our own worst enemy. If you think you’re going to go back and do the same thing in the same place, I think you’re kidding yourself. I think it’s going to be a big time twist. This takes the shad spawn out of the equation not fishing in the mornings.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 6(3)

I think there will still be some shad spawning but it’ll be thinner.

There are things I’m going to do differently for sure. We all had the privilege to watch what was going on after we got eliminated. There was nothing that I really learned though. What Aaron was doing was nothing new. I knew that would be strong. And I saw how Greg Vinson caught them and everyone knew topwater was going to play here at Table Rock, it always does. I had a bone topwater tied on, I had two dropshots tied on and I had two white swim jigs tied on which is what Andy Montgomery was doing. All I can say is I’m going to try some of that stuff in the same area where I was fishing because there were a lot of fish in that area. Then I’m going to try to expand on that.

I have no idea what to expect. There are storms coming through again leading up to the tournament. I would imagine all the water up the rivers got trashed again. The water keeps going up and down a foot and a half. I just need time. I like to do a lot of things, so if they’re not in the bushes it’s not a big deal. I have other things I can do. The fish are notorious here for moving fast. I remember 15 years ago in an FLW tournament I couldn’t believe how quickly they moved up with the water. I’ll always remember that. Maybe they’ll move right on time for me this time.

Dave’s Primary Gear for Bass Pro Tour Stage 6 at Table Rock

Shaky Head

Bait: Yamamoto California Roll

Jig Head: 1/8th ounce Hammer Head

Rod: 13 Fishing Envy 7’4” Medium Heavy Moderate Action

Reel: 13 Fishing Concept Boss 8.1

Line: 10 pound test Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon

Swim Jig

Bait: White Terminator Swim Jig

Rod: 13 Fishing Envy 7’3” Medium Heavy Fast Action

Reel: 13 Fishing Concept Boss 8.1

Line: 50 pound test Sufix 832

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Recap with Dave Lefebre

Featured Image Credit: Josh Gassmann

Stage 5 of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Smith Lake is a wrap. ANGLR Expert Dave Lefebre made it through the Elimination Round and finished 33rd in the Knockout Round. We caught up with Lefebre for a little Q&A recap of his event.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Finding the Right Bites

I thought I was on the fish to win for about the third time this year, so Smith was kind of disappointing. But it went pretty good really. I think this is my fourth time going there and it’s been totally different every time. I’m always excited to go back because I want to build on what I did the last time but I never can get the same thing to work twice.

I saw the shad spawn deal happening, but I don’t like doing that. It can burn you bad. I knew it was happening and I knew if I couldn’t find anything else in the morning, that I would have to try it in one of the few places I found it. But those places seemed like community holes to me. I felt like everybody found the same ones I did.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5(1)

So, I just spent my two practice mornings trying to get bit just fishing around.

On day one, I went to my first shad spawn place right near the ramp and nobody was there. So I started on a point that I thought somebody might fish that was 100 yards away. I was sitting there Power-Poled down for about 20 minutes and then Rojas pulled up on that shad spawn place and proceeded to jack them. He caught like a 4-something and a bunch of other ones. And I was catching them too but it was tough not to have all that to myself. Faircloth and Tharp also fished in that same area.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: What was Dave targeting?

In the morning, even though I didn’t witness an actual shad spawn where I was fishing, I was still fishing around a lot of bait. That whole creek was loaded with bait. I was covering a ton of water with a white Terminator Swim Jig. It seemed like you could have done that all day but I didn’t feel like I was catching them quite fast enough, so I just started point hopping with a Yamamoto California Roll worm on a 1/8th ounce Hammer Head shaky head by Fish Head.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Dave’s Lesson Learned

I think I caught 28 fish the first day, 24 the second day and 12 on the third day. I had the second or third most fish after the first two days. I strictly tried to catch numbers until the last day and that’s where I screwed up. I think I could have easily made the top 10 if I had just stuck to my game plan. I found fish that were 40 miles away in practice and I decided to run to them. But once that didn’t work I couldn’t fall back and catch enough of the little fish to keep up.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5(2)

On that day I just let curiosity get the best of me and get in my head. Photo Credit: Josh Gassmann

If we hadn’t had that weather delay I believe I would have been fishing the Championship Round. I had my mind made up that I was just going to continue to do what I was doing and pace myself. But I had to sit there and think for an extra two hours and ended up changing my mind in the truck.

I had practiced way up in a place where I won a Tour event with FLW and had some enormous bites up there in practice. One was a 7-pounder…. on Smith… and then another 5…. I just couldn’t get it out of my head during that weather delay and I couldn’t imagine myself not going there. But I think that lightening just pushed all those largemouth down. A lot of the guys that didn’t catch them that day were the largemouth guys.

I think that’s the coolest thing about this format is that it is so different. When I left FLW and went to BASS a few years ago, all of a sudden it was no net time. I was so used to using a net. So I went out and practiced landing fish without a net on these lakes up here where I can catch 200 a day. Practiced landing big smallmouth all different ways. I had to change and evolve and that’s what’s so cool about this. It’s like we’re all babies again and our senses have all opened up and we have to learn how to compete all over again.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5(3)

I should have stuck to my game plan. Photo Credit: Phoenix Moore

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Table Rock Up Next

I’m looking forward to Table Rock next. That’s one of those places where I always go with the mindset of catching numbers anyway. It’s one of the few places where I really go expecting to catch a hundred fish or more that week. I think it’s a perfect location for this format.

Dave’s Primary Gear for Smith Lake

Shaky Head

Bait: Yamamoto California Roll

Jighead: 1/8th ounce Hammer Head

Rod: 13 Fishing Envy 7’4” Medium Heavy Moderate Action

Reel: 13 Fishing Concept Boss 8.1

Line: 10 pound test Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon

Swim Jig

Bait: White Terminator Swim Jig

Rod: 13 Fishing Envy 7’3” Medium Heavy Fast Action

Reel: 13 Fishing Concept Boss 8.1

Line: 50 pound test Sufix 832

Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Recap with James Elam

Stage 4 of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Lake Chickamauga is a wrap. ANGLR Expert James Elam made it through the Elimination Round and finished 31st in the Knockout Round. We caught up with Elam for a little Q&A recap of his event.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Approaching the Event on Chickamauga

How did you approach practice for Chickamauga, knowing that you would all be fishing the same lake the entire event unlike some of the other Stages of the Bass Pro Tour?

I didn’t set the hook much. You really don’t even need to set the hook at all during practice in this format. Just getting bites is all you want to do in practice because every scoreable bass counts in the tournament. You can maybe set the hook a few times here and there to see what size they are but there’s still really no point in doing it. When they’re trying to spawn, they’re all mixed together anyway.

What about conserving fish knowing you’ll be on the same body of water and the weights will zero periodically throughout the event?

You don’t conserve fish at all in this thing in the Shotgun Round (day one). You basically just run up the score as much as you can and you try to start saving some fish in the Elimination Round (day two). If the cutline is 50-pounds on the Elimination Round day and you have 100-pounds, then you can start saving fish.  Bass Pro Tour Stage 4(1)

Otherwise it’s catch all you can. Image Credit: Garrick Dixon

Especially in this format when you’re fishing a shallow water spring tournament because there are 40 other boats out there on the days you’re not.

I was in group A this time and I was happy about that because I had one little cut that had a lot of fish in it and I didn’t want to have to fish behind somebody else that had completely worn them out catching every single fish that bites.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Finding the Pattern on Chickamauga

What pattern did you run this week?

This is the first time I’ve got on them all year where I felt like I could do well. I was pretty comfortable with the stage the fish were in.

I flipped a Molix Creature and threw a Molix Sligo this week.

I’m not a great sight fisherman so I just fished a few bedding areas blind casting. I found a couple cuts with some beds and some cruisers. They just had a lot of fish in them. I just went through there and blind flipped and fished really slow. If I got into a slick calm situation, I would throw the Sligo. But most of the time I would just go up and down the bank flipping. And If I missed one flipping, I would flip a Molix Lizard back in. I don’t know if it was the different action or profile or what it was about the Lizard, but they would usually eat it when I’d miss one on the Creature.

There wasn’t much grass this week. Just mostly bank fishing in 3-feet of water or so. The weather wasn’t too bad. the water temp was 64-degrees so they were ready to spawn. The problem was just the water level. The water rose really fast and then they started bobbing it up and down. The females just weren’t staging fully yet and weren’t going to move up until the water column stabilized. That’s one thing that really messed with this tournament. I only caught one female the whole time.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 4(2)

It was a 6-11, but the rest of the fish I caught were all males.

We had torrential rains and it muddied up some of my stuff but from what I could tell it didn’t matter for where I was fishing. But for some people, I’m sure it did in certain regions of the lake. One thing I would do, I had a watermelon Creature bait I was flipping and I had one in green pumpkin. I would switch back and forth based on the water color. When it got stained I would use the green pumpkin and when it was clear and bright without much wind I would flip the watermelon.

My final day started off strong because I caught that 6-11 early, but then I got behind a couple guys and got in a bad rotation and just ran out of fish. In this deal you have to work really quickly and it’s hard to catch up once you get behind because they keep piling it on.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Elam’s Gear for Lake Chickamauga

Setup #1

Rod: 7-6 heavy Shimano Expride

Reel: Shimano Metanium 8.5:1

Line: 20-pound Seaguar InvizX

Weight: 3/8-ounce tungsten weight

Hook: Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Flippin’ Hook 4/0

Bait: Molix Creature

Setup #2

Rod: 7-2 medium heavy Shimano Expride

Reel: Shimano Metanium 8.5:1

Line: 17-pound Seaguar InvizX

Weight: 3/8-ounce tungsten weight

Hook: Gamakatsu Superline EWG 3/0

Bait: Molix Lizard

Setup #3

Rod: 7-2 medium heavy Shimano Expride

Reel: Shimano Metanium 8.5:1

Line: 17-pound Seaguar InvizX

Weight: 3/16-ounce tungsten weight

Hook: Gamakatsu SuperLine EWG 3/0

Bait: Molix Sligo

Interested in Information From the 2019 Bassmaster Classic?

Elam wore the ANGLR Bullseye during practice and competition. With one press of a button, Elam was able to capture GPS coordinates for each fish catch along with all sorts of weather and water data, time of day, and more. To gain access to Elam’s ANGLR Intelligence Pack from the Tennessee River, click here.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 3: Recap with James Elam

Stage 3 of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour is a wrap. This was a unique event in Raleigh, North Carolina where anglers we tasked with competing on 3 different lakes with only 2 days of practice to scout them all. Jacob Powroznik took the $100,000 win using a spinning rod and a wacky rig to target bedding largemouth.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 3: A Bite That Faded Away

After the first round, ANGLR Expert and BPT Pro James Elam was within striking distance of the top 20 cut in his group at 30th but fell to 34th in his second round and was eliminated before the Knockout Round.

“I just didn’t have a good tournament,” said Elam. “The falling water got me. The lakes there had been really high and had fallen a lot before we got there. By the time we got there, Jordan was only a foot high or so. I had a few bites that lead me astray. I was catching my fish super shallow, flipping bushes in the backs off the creeks and way up river where the whole lake is pretty shallow. The dropping water just killed that bite and I couldn’t adjust quick enough.”

Bass Pro Tour Stage 3: Fishing Three Different Bodies of Water

For Stage 3, the BPT visited Lake Jordan for the Shotgun Round, Falls Lake for the Elimination and Knockout Rounds and Sharron Harris for the Championship Round. Anglers were allowed 2 practice days to fish on either Lake Jordan or Falls Lake and 4 hours to ride around but not fish on Sharron Harris. Two and a half days to scout 3 lakes is a far cry from the customary 3 days or more of practice for 1 lake that these anglers are accustomed to from other trails. This further intensified the urgency that already permeates the Bass Pro Tour style format.

“That’s really the thing that caught up to me on this one. I practiced 1 day on each lake and ended up doing the wrong things on both lakes in practice and I still didn’t figure it out in the tournament. I’m sure some guys had a good practice and figured it out and some guys just figured it out in the tournament but I sure didn’t.”

Bass Pro Tour Stage 3 Recap(1)

“If you don’t find something in the limited practice then you’re left scratching your head and still looking when the tournament starts. And you know people are catching them because of the Scoretracker. That’s very stressful. If you don’t find them pretty quick you just get buried.”

“On Falls Lake I just threw a shaky head on deeper stuff. Which in hindsight, I was fishing the right stuff because that’s where Brandon Palaniuk caught a lot of fish on a swimbait. But the fish had seen so many spinnerbaits and other things I just couldn’t get those fish to bite. And it was the perfect wind for a swimbait and Palaniuk made the right call. I think a few guys caught some around there on a jerkbait too.”

Bass Pro Tour Stage 3 Recap(2)

Looking back on his time in Raleigh, Elam wishes he could have a do-over.

“I really enjoyed Lake Jordan. Unfortunately I missed out on a lot of the action there but that’s one of my favorite new fisheries that I’ve been to in the last few years for sure.”

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 3: Looking Forward

Next up on the Bass Pro Tour is Stage 4 on Lake Chickamauga. This is one that has all the anglers excited, promising to be a shallow water slugfest with fish in all stages of the spawn. Be sure to check back in with ANGLR after the event to see Elam’s recap for the midway point of the Bass Pro Tour season.

Interested in Information From the 2019 Bassmaster Classic?

Elam wore the ANGLR Bullseye during practice and competition. With one press of a button, Elam was able to capture GPS coordinates for each fish catch along with all sorts of weather and water data, time of day, and more. To gain access to Elam’s ANGLR Intelligence Pack from the Tennessee River, click here.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 2: Recap with Dave Lefebre

The Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Stage 2 on Lake Conroe is in the rearview mirror for the 80 professional anglers competing on the Tour. ANGLR Expert and Bass Pro Tour angler, Dave Lefebre weighs in on his 30th place finish in the event.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 2: Preparing for the Weather

“Weather-wise and fishing-wise, Conroe was identical to the Kissimmee Chain. The lake size was different. Fishing a small lake like that for the whole event was a little weird, but I love that lake. If it’s not my favorite lake to fish, it’s probably my second favorite.”

The weather leading up to the event had the bass staged in pre-spawn areas, waiting for the water to warm a little more before pushing shallow to spawn.

“I needed it to stay cold to do better in this one. If they moved up, everyone was going to catch them. I was kind of liking that nastiness in the weather where I could really focus on those docks and that really early pre-spawn deal. That one 80-degree day is what hurt me. I did really good that day but that warm day and warm night put the fish on the move and they left me.”

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Photo by: Josh Gassmann

“It was humbling. I’ve had some humbling days on Conroe. This time of year that dock bite can just fade on you really fast if those fish start to move up and that’s what happened.”

Bass Pro Tour Stage 2: Successful Baits

Lefebre primarily fished one bait to make his way through the Shotgun and Elimination Rounds, a Texas-rigged green pumpkin lizard made by Gary Yamamoto.

“I’ve never just Texas-rigged a lizard in my life. I’ve got thousands of them but just never use them. Sometimes I’ll rig them on a Carolina-rig or when I’m bed fishing but never just on a Texas-rig going down the bank. I bet the 50-pound bag of them I had with me was probably 20-years old. I know it was 17-years old at least.”

How did Lefebre land on the lizard?

“I was fishing a tube in practice but I don’t like it when I’m fishing for a lot of bites because you miss too many on it. And everybody’s throwing a Senko now so I don’t know, I just ripped that tube off the hook in practice and stuck that lizard on there and got a bite right away which gave me confidence. I just felt like I could follow anybody with that lizard because I knew nobody else would be throwing it.”

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Photo by Josh Gassmann

Lefebre rode the lizard to day 3, the Knockout round. But it wasn’t long before he knew, too much had changed and the fish were on the move.

“I realized it on the third day about midway through the first of three periods. I think I had two fish and I just got the feeling that those guys casting and cranking and reeling were going to catch them today in those spawning flats. You could look at the Scoretracker and see the guys that you know were pitching and flipping not catching anything. I mean look at Andy Morgan, the best to ever do it and he was struggling. So I just picked up the Terminator Shuddering Bait and a ChatterBait and I would throw that Shuddering Bait in the muddier water and the ChatterBait in the clearer water and caught 9 fish or so on it.”

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 2: What’s Next for the Bass Pro Tour Anglers?

Lefebre’s performance cashed him his second $6,000 check in as many stops on the BPT, pure profit having paid no entry fee to enter the tournaments. Reflecting on where his mind is after the first two BPT events:

“I just think that everything is so fresh and it keeps you on your toes. It’s just fun again. And you forget about stuff because it’s all happening so fast. Now we have had two tournaments already and we have the first Major League Fishing Cup event that 30 of us have qualified for that I totally forgot about.”

After the first two BPT events, 30 anglers have now qualified for the first of 4 MLF Cup events to be held later this fall. After Stages 3 and 4, the field for Cup 2 will be established by the top 30 anglers from points accumulated in just those two events. The top 30 anglers from Stages 5 and 6 will feed into Cup 3 and thusly the 7th and 8th Stages of the Bass Pro Tour will be used to fill the 4th MLF Cup of the fall.

All the while, cumulative points acquired across all 8 Bass Pro Tour Stages will determine the qualifying field for the BPT Redcrest Championship to be held at the end of the season. The 4 MLF Cup events will once again feed into the 2020 General Tire World Championship.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 3: Looking Ahead at Three Different Bodies of Water

Confused yet? Get a load of this.

MLF revealed a few details about Stage 3 of the BPT trail to be held in Raleigh, North Carolina during the Championship round of Stage 2 on MLF LIVE, announcing that competition will take place on 3 different bodies of water.

“I like that. I mean, we’re starting from zero anyway. We’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to think about anything but I was watching MLF LIVE on the final day and that’s the first I heard of it.”

While competing on the first lake in the Shotgun and Elimination rounds, BPT anglers will likely have some type of practice time allowance to scout the upcoming two fisheries where the Knockout and Championship rounds will be.

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Photo by Josh Gassmann

“There’s just so much strategy now. It’s such a thinking man’s game. We’re going to have two days of practice for the first lake and we’re probably going to have time to practice those other two lakes too like we did at Kissimmee when they gave us 4 hours to ride through Garcia.”

“But there were only a few of us that took advantage of that. There were only 3 of us out there the day I went and I think maybe 8 guys max did it. So a lot of those guys that made the top 10 and actually fished Garcia had never even seen the lake before.”

MLF certainly has the anglers on their toes and rumor has it that there have been 30-and-40-pound traditional 5-fish tournament weights pulled in recent years from the waters of the upcoming fisheries for Stage 3. We’ll see what’s in store for Dave Lefebre and the rest of the field in March.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 1: Recap with Dave Lefebre

The highly anticipated Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour is finally here and ANGLR’s very own Dave Lefebre weighs in on what he thought of the inaugural event on Lake Toho and the Kissimmee Chain. The first stop of the Bass Pro Tour Stage 1 was an incredible event, full of highs and lows for anglers as they set the stage for this new professional bass fishing format!

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 1: A Tough Practice was a Good Thing

“I felt really bad going into that tournament because my practice was terrible. It rained really hard during practice and made it difficult to move around and fish. And I didn’t have many bites in practice but that turned out to be a good thing because it made me hunker down in one area and just fish and pray the weights weren’t too high.”

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“We’re not allowed to talk to anybody, not even guys in our own group, so there were a million things going through my mind that first morning. So, to see very little movement on the Scoretracker early I kind of realized, I just gotta put my head down and grind it out.”

Dave cashed a check in the inaugural Bass Pro Tour event by covering water with a Terminator Shuddering Bait and a swim jig when the conditions allowed and when the wind would die down he slowed his approach by switching to a Senko. His area consisted of a good mix of lily pads and hydrilla with holes between the vegetation where he would catch most of his fish.

“It was kind of neat to hunker down in one area for all 3 days I was on the water because I don’t do that very often. I’m a runner. But that’s kind of the way I do decent in tournaments in Florida. Just put the trolling motor in the water and spend the whole day standing up.”

Bass Pro Tour Stage 1: A Unique New Format

The new format of the MLF Bass Pro Tour is unique. The 80 anglers are broken into two groups of 40 and those groups alternate fishing every other day for the first days for each group are “Shotgun Rounds”. Then the second days for each group are considered the “Elimination Rounds”. Each angler’s weight is cumulative across their first two days of fishing. The top 20 from each group moves on to the “Knockout Round” where weights are zeroed out. The remaining 40 anglers then compete for one day to determine the top 10. The top 10 fish in the “Championship Round” on what equates to be the 6th day of competition, though each angler only fished 4 days total.

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One question we posed for Dave, how do you manage fish now?

His response, “I have no idea.”

In a traditional multi-day tournament format, an angler tries to get 5 solid bass in the boat and then has to decide if they want to try to cull up in that area or leave it for the remaining days of competition. Several new factors come into play with the Bass Pro Tour (BPT).

First of all, every bass over 1-pound is scorable, so why not just catch every fish you can on day-1? Well that makes sense at first glance, but when you think about the fact that weights are zeroed for the Knockout Round, burning through every fish in an area right out of the gate isn’t necessarily a good idea. However to counter that, in the BPT, you have to take a day off between your first two days of competition and run the risk of another angler in the other group pounding on the same area. It’s definitely been a curveball the anglers are trying to figure out.

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How Does the Off-Day Effect A Pattern?

That day off also throws another 24-hours of random variables like changes in the weather, current, and water level into the mix that could make an area that produced on your first day obsolete on your second day of competition.

So, is it best to catch everything you can right away?

Maybe. But remember, first place after two days gets the exact same reward as 20th place by advancing to the Knockout Round where weights are zeroed. Dave’s best guess is to try to ride that sweet spot in the standings around 10th and hope you’re saving some fish and have done enough to advance.

“You’ve got to play it safe when you’re trying to make that 20-cut and it’s pretty obvious about what you’ll need with the Scoretracker. So I think once you’re in, you just kind of have to lay back. This format is just totally different. There’s so much more strategy involved. So using the tools available to me, like the ANGLR web application paired with the mobile app and Bullseye is a great way to give me that competitive advantage!”

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“In the past, your success in tournaments depended on being 90% good fisherman and 10% smart fisherman. And now it’s like 50/50 good fisherman to smart fisherman.”

“The good thing about these first tournaments of the year when fish are moving up to spawn is that I think you can really beat up on your fish because you know there are more coming. So, I think the only time you can really save fish right now is if you’re in a good position on the second day when you have to make the top 20 cut. Other than that I think you’re always having to catch everything you can right now.”

As Dave heads out on Lake Conroe for the second event of the Bass Pro Tour, you can retrace his steps from Stage #1 on the Kissimmee Chain by viewing the trip data he logged with the ANGLR app!