MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. – Just like the anglers who fished in Elimination Round 1, the 10 competitors in Elimination Round 2 of the 2020 Lucas Oil Challenge Cup Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches found Bull Shoals Lake to be extremely high.
This changed any preconceived notions the field may have had about the Ozark Mountains lake, and they were forced to quickly locate bass if they had a chance to move on to the next round.
Elimination Round 2 can be categorized as Brett Hite and Mike Iaconelli… and then everybody else. Hite and Ike traded blows as they each held the top spot throughout the day.
Arizona’s Hite is well known for his prowess with a vibrating jig, and this was what accounted for most of his 24 bass for 50 pounds, 13 ounces.
He found a productive area early in the day and then exploited it throughout the competition.
“I ran to one of the smaller creeks, but it was still a good-sized area, and I just put the trolling motor down and covered water,” recapped Hite. “Right away, I started catching them on the Evergreen Jack Hammer in green pumpkin with a matching Yamamoto Zako trailer, which worked great because there were small bluegill everywhere.”
He fished his vibrating jig on a 7-foot-3 heavy glass Evergreen Brett Hite Combat Stick rod paired with a 6.3:1 Daiwa STEEZ A reel spooled with 20-pound FC Sniper Fluorocarbon line.
Hite focused on isolated cover during this round to rack up his total weight.
“There was brush everywhere, but the isolated green bushes on secondary points were the key,” he shared.
He also mixed in an American Shad colored Evergreen Shower Blows 125 topwater. For this bait, Hite used a prototype 7-2 medium heavy Evergreen rod with an 8.1:1 Daiwa Tatula SV reel. He spooled it with a 40-pound Sunline Braid with a short leader of 19-pound Sunline Defier Armilo nylon line.
With the water over 20 feet higher than usual, everything that grew or resided on the shoreline of Bull Shoals was now underwater, and that presented a challenge for figuring out what to target.
Iaconelli says that these are situations where he begins experimenting until he gets multiple bites on one technique. The first pattern to produce for him was a jerkbait, and it helped contribute to his total of 21 bass for 46-3.
“I had fished four events on Bull Shoals in the past, but had to throw all of that out of the window and just fish what was in front of me,” Iaconelli said. “I started getting some bites on secondary points, fishing the old shoreline, with a jerkbait.”
He was fishing a Rapala Shadow Rap in the Ghost Shiner color on a 6-8 Abu Garcia IKE Series Delay rod paired with a 6.4:1 Abu Garcia REVO IKE reel that he spooled with 12-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line.
That technique helped him land some key bass to get started, but he turned it up when he switched to fishing bushes.
“When I found the right kind of bushes where the fish were, I could go right to them and catch fish and skip all of the rest,” Iaconelli said.
The right bushes were green and alive and located approximately 3/4 of the way back into pockets. They had depths of anywhere from 8 to 14 feet of water around them.
“There were not many of them, so I would run around looking for just those key bushes,” he said.
Iaconelli fished at a fast pace as nearly all of the bass hit his lure on the initial fall.
“The rate of fall was important, so I used a heavier weight,” Iaconelli said. “They wanted that rapid descent.”
He fished a Berkley PowerBait Bunker Hawg in several colors, and rigged it on a 4/0 VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook paired with a 3/4-ounce VMC Tungsten Flipping Weight.
He fished it on an 8-foot heavy Abu Garcia IKE Power Series rod paired with a 8.0:1 Abu Garcia REVO IKE reel paired with 50-pound Berkley X9 braided line.