DAYTON, Tn. – Stage Four of the 2019 Bass Pro Tour was a homecoming in many ways for Andy Morgan. Not only did the Tennessee pro get to sleep in his own bed in his hometown of Dayton, but he also fished the Championship Round in a slough that he learned how to fish in. And he took home the Econo Lodge Stage Four Presented by Winn Grips title while throwing a handful of baits that he’s been throwing for years.
Morgan racked up 34 fish for 80 pounds on Championship Sunday on Lake Chickamauga, pulling away from second-place finisher Jared Lintner by nearly 20 pounds, all the while fishing a shallow slough that he’s so familiar with that “I swear I see that slough in my sleep,” he says.
Championship Sunday on Chickamauga played right into Morgan’s strengths: With heavy rains keeping the local pressure away from his key area, the three-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year hunkered down in a shallow slough and flipped and pitched stumps, laydowns and other pieces of hard cover with a black/blue or black/red Zoom Z-Craw on a 5/0 Owner Jungle Flipping Hook (5/16-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten weight).
His flipping setup consisted of a 7-foot Favorite Fishing Pro Battle Series flipping stick and a Team Lew’s Pro-Ti SLP Speed Spool (6.8:1) spooled with 20-pound Gamma Fluorocarbon.
“That slough is extremely shallow, so the fish get spooky real fast if there’s a lot of traffic in there,” Morgan admitted. “With that rain keeping everybody home, I could take my time and work through every little nook and cranny. I flipped to every log, stump and underwater hard spot I could find.”
Morgan’s goal for the week at Stage Four was just to qualify for Championship Sunday, a goal that was derailed briefly in his Shotgun Round when he started on a group of fish that “lied to me in practice.” After a slow morning fishing downriver from the Dayton launch, Morgan recovered in the second half of his first round, and then hammered his way through the Elimination Round with over 100 pounds combined on his second and third days of competition.
His primary tools included the same flipping setup as described above, but he also added the following:
A 1/4-ounce Strike King Red Eye Shad in Orange Belly Craw, which he fished over long, shallow points in the morning. He threw that bait on a 7-6 Favorite Fishing Pro Battle Series rod and a Team Lew’s Pro-Ti SLP Speed Spool (8.0:1) spooled with 20-pound Gamma line.
“That’s a bait that I knew I could get a good number of bites first thing in a morning and get 20 pounds pretty quick,” Morgan said.
“I’d throw that Thunder Cricket around, and then come back through that same area with the Z-Craw, flipping and pitching to individual targets,” Morgan said.