Top 10 baits and patterns: Old-school dominates at Eufaula - Major League Fishing

Top 10 baits and patterns: Old-school dominates at Eufaula

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May 9, 2024 • Tyler Brinks • Bass Pro Tour

EUFAULA, Okla. — Unpredictable weather and Lake Eufaula’s rapidly changing water levels were the story at MillerTech Stage Four Presented by REDCON1. The anglers who found success were forced to adapt every day of the event to stay ahead of the curve, and they caught their fish with a host of traditional power-fishing techniques with a little bit of finesse mixed in.

Here’s a look at the top anglers and how they caught ’em on Oklahoma’s sprawling Lake Eufaula.

1. Zack Birge — 46-10 (17)   

After many close calls, Zack Birge finally secured his first tour-level win in his home state. He did enough every day to advance and saved his best for last, fishing near takeoff in Eufaula Cove to easily win the event. His knowledge of the fishery played a role, especially on the last day when conditions were set up perfectly for that area.

“That’s the one big thing that helped me from experience, just knowing how many fish live in Eufaula Cove,” he said. “I know it has an unbelievable amount of fish, but it never showed out until the last day. I knew it would improve as the week progressed and the conditions stabilized.”

Before his final-day romp, Birge did what most others in the field were doing: fishing isolated wood and buck brush in pockets off the main lake.

“I caught them with a white 3/8-ounce Omega Rapture vibrating jig with a white trash Reaction Innovations Little Dipper on the back and also caught some pitching to random bed fish,” he said. “The vibrating jig was good for me on the final day, but I also caught quite a few on a black Toad Thumper Poppin’ Frog.”

2. Drew Gill — 30-13 (13)        

This was Drew Gill‘s third top-four finish in just four events since joining the Bass Pro Tour, and he did it by fishing with forward-facing sonar and a Neko Rig.

“It was pretty simple – another Neko Rig event for me,” he said. “I was running docks and fishing the floats on the walkway, as well as pockets that had gravel. The fish were spawning around the floats when the water was shallow, and after it came up 4 feet, I was catching them in 4 to 8 feet of water. A lot of fish were still on the beds.”

Gill used a 5-inch Big Bite Baits Trick Stick in green pumpkin. He rigged it on a Size 1 Owner Cover Shot hook and inserted a 1/16-ounce weight into the bait.

3. Skeet Reese — 28-06 (12)

California’s Skeet Reese scored his first Bass Pro Tour Top 10 since 2021 and matched his best-ever BPT finish by fishing his strengths in shallow water. After a tough practice, he figured things out and expanded on the pattern as the event progressed.

“I caught one scorable on a walkway the second day of practice and another the next day in the back of a pocket,” he said. “That was the main thing I found in practice, and the bite started to materialize throughout the week and get better. I fished everything in front of me, from docks to shoreline grass and buck bush, and rotated through three different baits.”

His trio of baits included a 1/2-ounce white bladed jig with a Berkley PowerBait The Deal in chartreuse shad on the back, a Berkley PowerBait Pit Boss in green pumpkin and a wacky-rigged Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General, also in green pumpkin.

4. Randy Howell — 27-13 (12)

Like all the anglers in the field, Randy Howell had to make some significant adjustments to deal with the changing water levels. What started as a cranking bite turned into other power-fishing baits with some bedding fish mixed in as the water stabilized and got cleaner.

“The first day, I caught some around rocks on a Livingston Lures Vapor 50 crankbait in spring craw,” he said. “After that, I went to find some cleaner water in pockets and targeted the bushes and shallow grass on what was the shore before the water came up. The water got cleaner every day, and I started seeing more and more bed fish.”

His bait for covering water was a 1/2-ounce Z-Man/Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer and a 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Mini Max, both in solid white. He paired them with a matching Yamamoto Zako in 3- and 4-inch sizes, depending on the size of the ChatterBait. For the bed fish, he pitched either a pink Yamamoto 5-inch Senko or a black-with-red-flake Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog.

5. Nick LeBrun — 25-02 (9)

Nick LeBrun was on the same shallow power fishing plan and said the key was keeping up with the changing conditions. His primary focus was water less than 3 feet deep, and he believed most fish were spawning or moving up to spawn.

“Things seemed to be changing by the hour,” he said. “One day, it was all about the trees, and the next was better fishing flooded yards. I kept my boat in 4 feet of water most of the time and would cast anywhere between 1 and 3 feet deep. That was the deal.”

He utilized several different baits, but the two biggest weapons were a white 1/2-ounce Z-Man/Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer with a matching Yamamoto Zako as the trailer and a black 3/8-ounce Buckeye Lures Buzzerk buzzbait.

6. Cole Floyd — 24-05 (8)        

Ohio’s Cole Floyd continued his run of top finishes this season and moved up to fourth in the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year Race. At Eufaula, he stuck with a shallow-water power approach that’s right in his wheelhouse.

“It was a little bit of everything from a swim jig and vibrating jig to a frog,” he said. “I also caught some pitching. I was targeting little side pockets with brush that I could pull up and fish quickly and move to the next one. I was moving around quite a bit.”

His baits included a 3/8-ounce white Strike King Thunder Cricket with a matching Strike King Z-Too as his trailer and a white Strike King Hack Attack Swim Jig with a Strike King Rage Scounbug as the trailer. He went with a Strike King Rage Bug in moon juice on a 1/2-ounce weight and a 5/O Hayabusa WRM959 Wide Gap Offset Heavy Duty Hook for pitching. Floyd also enticed some great topwater strikes on MLFNOW! with a white Strike King KVD Sexy Frog.

7. Jeff Sprague — 15-13 (7)      

Jeff Sprague stayed shallow throughout the event, targeting cover with moving baits and pitching soft plastics. One constant was change as he changed areas and types of cover throughout the event.

“It was about figuring it out on the fly because things were changing so quickly,” he said. “As the event went on, the fish went from steeper pockets to flatter banks. I tried to cover water as fast as I could fish it, just old-school bass fishing, and I really enjoyed it.”

Sprague caught his fish flipping a Lake Fork Tackle Flipper in green pumpkin swirl and various white moving baits. He employed a swim jig, vibrating jig and spinnerbait, with a matching Lake Fork Tackle Live Magic Shad Swimbait on the back of the spinnerbait and a Boot Tail Live Magic Shad on the vibrating jig and swim jig.

8. Luke Clausen — 15-08 (6)

After a tough first day during which he only landed two bass, Luke Clausen completely switched things up. His decision to abandon everything he found in practice and start somewhere new allowed him to score a Top-10 finish.

Focusing on the Longtown area, Clausen had plenty of space.

“During the Knockout Round, 19 boats went the other way through the narrows, and I was the only one headed the other way,” he said. “The other key was finding areas with fewer bushes in the water. It’s overwhelming when there are so many of them, so I looked for the isolated trees and bushes.”

Clausen secured the top finish with the help of a 3/8-ounce Z-Man/Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer in spot remover with a smoky shad colored Z-Man Razor ShadZ on the back. His other primary tool was a Z-Man Mag FattyZ worm in green pumpkin on a Texas rig with a 3/O hook and 3/16-ounce weight.

9. Martin Villa — 9-08 (4)        

Although he struggled a bit on the final day, Martin Villa was on a tear early in the event, including leading his group after a day of fishing. This allowed him to scout for new areas as he coasted into the Knockout Round. He changed with the fish each day, focusing on rocks and different kinds of bushes and trees.

“At the beginning of the event, my main area had a lot of current, and the fish were pushed shallow in the willows to get away from it,” he said. “Then it turned into the buck brush, root balls and isolated rock. The last day, I changed areas to a place I thought I could win in, but it didn’t work out.”

Villa kept it simple with a wacky-rigged 5-inch Senko in Green Pumpkin and watermelon.

“I tried to pull a John Cox and get shallow with the wacky rig,” he joked.

10. Britt Myers — 3-10 (2)

On the final day, Britt Myers bucked the trend a bit and relied on his Garmin LiveScope in slightly deeper water. He targeted cruising fish and those related to isolated cover.

“Some of them were on rocks, some on stumps or laydowns, and some fish were hanging around little rough patches of rock away from everything,” he said. “I think these fish were staging and getting ready to spawn.”

His bait of choice was a green pumpkin Zoom Trick Worm on a Neko Rig. He completed the rig with a Size 1 straight shank hook and inserted a 1/16-ounce nail weight into one end of the worm.