Being in fifth place in the Heavy Hitters qualifying race. is plenty of reason to smile. Photo by Phoenix Moore

From the moment Heavy Hitters was announced and I knew what was at stake in that tournament, it has been my ultimate goal to qualify for it. Making REDCREST is obviously important, but I’ve just felt stronger and more focused on qualifying for Heavy Hitters through the first three events this season.

I definitely changed up my strategy in the first three Stages to try and target bigger fish. Two 6-pounders in the first two events and then add on an 8-6 at Lake Fork and I’m sitting pretty in fifth place and over 3 pounds above the Qualification Line.

This 8-6 monster from Lake fork turned my Heavy Hitters fortunes around.

When I say I changed up my strategy, I mean that I’m going out there with big fish on my mind. On Lake Eufaula for Stage One, I had a big 1-ounce spinnerbait with a 5-inch swimbait on the back of it. I glued that bait to my hand and I threw that thing the entire tournament because we weren’t really catching a lot of fish as a group, but we were catching big fish. So I decided to keep the big bait tied on and go hunting for big ones.

Lake Okeechobee for Stage Two obviously wasn’t the best in terms of numbers for me. The biggest fish I had there was a 6-pounder, and that’s not going to cut it against the kind of fish the rest of the field are catching.

Made Up Some Ground at Lake Fork

The event that has helped me the most in getting higher up in the standings was definitely this last event on Lake Fork. After my first Qualifying Round, I was about 9 pounds out of the Top 20 and my biggest fish was only a 4-pounder. I knew going into my second day that there was going to be a point where I was only targeting big fish.

That first period of my second day was brutal because I didn’t catch a single bass. My hopes of making the Knockout Round, but more importantly, keeping pace in the Heavy Hitters standings, were fading rather quickly.

I decided to tie on a big swimbait and a big 3/4-ounce Berkley Warpig at the end of the first period, and that’s when it all changed. I caught multiple big bites including three over 5 pounds and that massive 8-pound, 6-ounce prespawner. I was unable to make the Knockout Round, but that’s okay. At that point, I was more focused on getting back into the Heavy Hitters race, which is what I did.

As I look ahead to the events currently scheduled to count for Heavy Hitters, I know that I can’t blink. We’ve seen some of the biggest and best names in our sport—Jason Christie and Bobby Lane—go out and zero at events this year. We’ve had some crazy weather happen this year already. The most important thing for me is not to zero. If I can post scorable bass in the final two events, I feel like I have a realistic shot of making it into Heavy Hitters.

I’m sure we’ll continue to see big fish hit SCORETRACKER®, giving plenty of guys who are out of it right now a real shot at cracking into the Top 30. I just hope I can catch enough fish to stay right where I am.