As the first event of a brand new Bassmaster Elite Series season began, it was no secret the favored lure of choice by top local anglers for Cherokee Lake’s finicky smallmouth was a 3-inch Damiki Armor Shad rigged on a lead “Erie” head.
“People use the Damiki Shad because it has almost no action, and those fish at Cherokee are so lure shy, they seem to like that subtle presentation,” says Scroggins. “But they weren’t liking it for me, so my roommate Britt Myers and I had to call an audible after Day 1 of practice.”
The struggle forced Myers and Scroggins to lean on a lesson straight out of Bass Fishing 101 – when you can’t get a bite using a lure you think they should eat – try downsizing.
“I started thinking about lures that were even smaller than a 3” Damiki, and the next thing you know, I’ve spent $150 in the crappie fishing section at the Knoxville Bass Pro Shops,” grins Scroggins.
“I had everything in my bag from tiny little 1/8 ounce marabou jigs to curly tail grubs, and all shapes and weights of jig heads,” says Scroggins.
The buck-fifty wager worked in the end, but brutally strong North winds on Day 1 of competition nearly caused the panfishing strategy to backfire. Wild winds simply wouldn’t allow the Florida pro to feel the bite with a big unwanted bow in his 4-pound line.
“Trying to tightline a tiny 1/8 ounce marabou jig or grub in a 20 mph wind is next to impossible. I should have gone to the shoreline and thrown crankbaits or jerkbaits to save my day,” he admits.
Scroggins failed to catch a limit on Day 1, and found himself in a very concerning 86th place. But when the winds calmed on Day 2 and Day 3, he knew he had a chance to catch Cherokee smallmouth about the same way he catches crappie on Rodman Reservoir and Crescent Lake back home.
And catch ‘em he did.
His 16-pound limit on Day 2 vaulted him from 86th place to 50th – good enough for a guaranteed paycheck and a chance to compete on Day 3 when he caught a 15-pound limit – leading “Big Show” to a 32nd place finish, and a $10,000 check in the pocket of his Carhartt jeans.
Scroggins’ Equipment Notes:
Rod: Scroggins offered his mixed bag of crappie lures on a 7-foot medium light spinning rod, stressing the importance of a very forgiving light action when using such light fishing line.
Line: 4-pound Hi-Seas Copolymer Select in clear
Minn Kota Spot-Lock: The GPS driven technology kept Scroggins electronically ‘anchored’ directly over the school, or single fish, he was trying to catch. “When I’d drop that Damiki Shad, I could watch the bass swim up to it on my Humminbird and swim away. But when I’d drop a crappie bait on them, I could watch them hang around my lure, and eventually they’d eat it.”