This might sound odd to some, but every Bassmaster Elite Series season has a personality. Certain trends develop over the course of eight tournaments, and they can define how the season plays out.
To me, the 2014 season seemed to be dominated by soft plastics and a shallow-water bite. Looking back at many of our fisheries in 2014 – Lake Seminole, the St. John’s River, Toledo Bend – you could say that the personality of the season was extremely favorable to soft plastics, but they weren’t the only factor in how the season played out.
I love to fish cranks and topwater, and thankfully there were other fisheries and opportunities for that type of bite. Randy Howell won the Classic on the Howeller DMC with Electronic Baitfish Sounds (EBS™) Technology, and I had a great finish in our last regular-season tournament of the year at Lake Cayuga in New York thanks in large part to the Dive Master 14 and 20 in XXX Shad.
I had started the season off slowly on Lake Seminole and the St. John’s River (which was a bed-fishing deal all the way), and then got a little of my mojo back on Table Rock, which is a good crankbait lake in general. I built a little more momentum at Toledo Bend, and headed into Dardanelle thinking I’d turned things around, feeling like that tournament would be won flipping, but I missed the bite and that one really punched me in the gut.
It turned out to be a squarebill deal, and I just missed it. That one really hurt. I ended on a good note at Cayuga, though (I finished seventh), and I plan to carry that momentum forward into the 2015 season.
A “Cranky” 2015
I look at the potential personality of the 2015 Elite Series schedule, and it seems pretty obvious that crankbaits will play a key role. If you look at just the most obvious ones, you’ll see places like Kentucky Lake, which is very well known to be a huge cranking lake. I’m obviously excited about that fishery because it should be just perfect for the new Deep Impact 18, Howeller Deep and Howeller Deep Plus with EBS Multi-Touch Technology™ that we’ve been working on.
I can see the final tournament of the year, on Lake St. Clair, being a very similar bite. I’ve caught them well at St. Clair on a deep-diving crank, and I figured something out on that fishery on the final day when we fished it in 2013 that I’m excited to follow up on when we go back up there.
The Year of the Squarebill
Looking at the rest of the schedule, I can see 2015 shaping up to be the “year of the squarebill”. The first tournament of the year, on the Sabine River in Texas, could be a squarebill deal because we’ll be dealing with shallow, stained water. We’re fishing the Sabine a little later in the spring than we did in 2013, so it’s going to be even muddier than last time – I can see EBS MultiTouch sound technology really coming into play in that dirty water.
From there we go right to Guntersville, and of course the secret is kinda out of the bag there because that’s where the Howeller DMC was introduced. I can see Guntersville shaping up to be a squarebill deal, though, and there’s no reason why the Howeller DMC SQ won’t do very well there.
When we head out West, I can see both a squarebill and a lipless crank doing well on the California Delta, and a squarebill should be a major player when we come back East to fish Chesapeake Bay. I haven’t had a lot of experience on that fishery, but I think it just fits right into my style. The only place I can compare it to is the Potomac River, and I’ve always done well there on – guess what – a squarebill and topwater.
It won’t be long before it’ll be time to start getting in shape and getting tackle ready for the 2015 season, and I’m really looking forward to the schedule. It’ll be interesting to see how the personality of the season develops, and I’m excited about the fact that the fisheries are a lot more conducive for the hard baits in my arsenal to be a bigger player.
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