PATTERN INSIDE THE PATTERN: Reese ran James River tides to pick up first Bass Pro Tour win - Major League Fishing

PATTERN INSIDE THE PATTERN: Reese ran James River tides to pick up first Bass Pro Tour win

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Chasing the tide and changing baits helped Skeet Reese score his first Bass Pro Tour trophy at Stage Six on the James River. Photo by Phoenix Moore. Angler: Skeet Reese.
July 9, 2024 • Dave Landahl • Bass Pro Tour

Decades of fishing tidal rivers and understanding bass movement in them were major factors in bringing home Mercury pro Skeet Reese’s first win on the Bass Pro Tour at General Tire Stage Six Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts. The newly elected Bass Fishing Hall of Fame member spent most of his formative years as a bass angler fishing the famed tidal waters of the California Delta, which led to career-long success on fisheries like the James River in Virginia, where he hoisted the Stage Six trophy.

“I grew up fishing the California Delta and won on the Potomac River (in 2007) – I guess I understand tidal fisheries and enjoy fishing them,” Reese said.

While much of the Stage Six field focused on areas on the James that were ideal locations on the right tide (and would wait on the tide to get right for them), Reese instead chose to chase the tide and cover water.

“Very seldom am I fishing only one spot or area to capitalize on catching bass on tidal water,” he said. “(Stage Six) was about chasing the tide for me – fishing from the Chickahominy River to where we would take off (in the James) gave me about a three-hour window. I’d miss the ideal low tide in some areas, but could still pick off a fish or two in the less-than-perfect situation. But when I hit the tide it right, it worked very well.”

Reese sniffed out quickly that relatively deeper water and main-river current wasn’t the way to win, instead focusing on shallow water in both the Chickahominy and James. 

Skeet Reese found a honey hole underneath a bridge during Stage Six. Photo by Phoenix Moore

“Some of the best spots I fished had a lot of milfoil-type grass only about 6 inches tall that would meet the arrowhead vegetation – all shallow stuff,” Reese said “For me, the docks with deep water and the main-river current weren’t productive. The flatter to medium-sloping banks were the best. I never caught a fish (deeper than 5 feet).”

Beside fishing shallow, Reese also kept his approach as simple as can be, essentially authoring a master class in how to fish the tides. 

“I thought a lot of the week I’d be fishing the outgoing tide, figuring out where the bass are positioned,” he said. “When the tide was low, I’d fish the end of the docks, or the deepest tree or end of a laydown. On a higher tide, I might go all the way to the bank. During slack tide, I’d fish the middle depths somewhere. Locate current and fish. It all seems so simple. Being in the right areas as much as possible during the first 45 minutes of the incoming tide, that was a smackdown. It was a chewfest then. It’s not a difficult concept; it’s typical tide fishing 101.”

Reese’s bait progression shifted along with the tides throughout the event. In practice, he flipped a Berkley PowerBait Power Hawg quite a bit. He added a bladed swim jig to go along with the flipping approach during the tournament. Then, he landed on his eventual main tool for the majority of the Knockout Round and for the entire Championship Round: the Lucky Craft BDS 1 crankbait.

“I fished how I really enjoy fishing with baits I’m very comfortable using,” Reese said. “During the Knockout Round, I switched over to using the Lucky Craft BDS 1 crankbait, a small, shallow-diving squarebill. I came to a bridge and started catching a lot of scorables on the crankbait during the Knockout Round. I have no idea the name of the bridge. I just called it the ‘fish-catching bridge.’ It helped get me to the final round, and casting the BDS 1 all day on the last day paid off.”