BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – The Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Central Division on Dale Hollow Lake as was a full-on, forward-facing sonar shootout. Up-and-coming local sticks littered the Top 10 thanks to the unanimous pattern of choice: hunting bait-chasing bass with small swimbaits and other shad-imitating presentations.
If you’re heading out on Dale Hollow, or other highland impoundments loaded with bait soon, you might want to consider some of these presentations.
1. Jack Daniel Williams employed a 3.4-inch Berkley PowerBait The Champ Jerk Minnow in HD silver shiner and HD emerald shiner to claim the top spot. Both colors were rigged on a 1/4-ounce jig head. He slung the small offerings on a pair of 6-foot, 10-inch MHX homemade spinning rods with Daiwa Tatula LT 2500 reels spooled with 8-pound Berkley X9 braid tied to an 8-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leader.
2. Kevin Drake jumped into contention after weighing 25 pounds, 3 ounces on Day 2 and backed it up on Day 3 with 22-1 for his runner-up finish. Drake elected to target fish with a 3-inch Storm Largo Shad alternating between a variety of heads in 5/16, 3/8, and 1/2 ounce sizes to reach suspended fish at various depths. Drake threw straight fluorocarbon on his spinning setups, opting for 10-pound Seaguar InvizX on Lew’s reels and 7-foot, medium action Joe Burns Custom Rods.
3. Tristan Abbott continues to contend on Dale Hollow, notching his third Top 10 in the last month. Abbott also fired around a 3-inch shad-imitator on a 1/2-ounce VMC Neon Moon Eye jig tied to 10-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid connected to an 8-pound Seaguar AbrazX leader. Abbott upsized now and then to a 6-inch Driftwood Custom Baits swimbait on a 1/2-ounce Picasso Smart Mouth Plus jig slung on a Dixie Custom Rods FeatherStik 7-foot, 7-inch, heavy-action casting rod. Abbot employed Lowrance ActiveTarget with his swimbaits in order to stack up more hardware to add to the collection.
4. Netting the largest bag on the final day (23-9), Nick Ratliff found his way into the Top Five utilizing much of the same techniques as those around him. Ratliff switched between a 3/8- and 1/2-ounce VMC Neon Moon Eye jig with either a 2.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT or 3-inch Twin Lakes Tackle swimbait (which he ran out of by the end of the event) in a variety of shad colors. He threw his miniature presentations on a 6-foot, 10-inch, medium-action Dixie Custom Rod with a Shimano reel. Both were spooled with 10-pound Sunline Siglon PEx8 Braid to a 6- or 8-pound Seaguar InvizX leader.
5. Bailey Gay went to work all three days wandering with forward-facing sonar and casting a 3-inch swimbait on a homemade head. He did so while using a Shimano Zodias rod with a Shimano Vanford 2500 reel spooled with 10-pound braid to an 8-pound leader.
6. Isaac Peavyhouse stayed consistent throughout the week employing a trio of tools to land 59-13 for his three-day total. Peavyhouse did damage with a Megabass Vision 110+2 in mat shad and a Damiki Armor Shad on a 3/8 or 1/2-ounce head. Peavyhouse also threw around a silver Cotton Cordell spoon. All three set ups were rigged up on various Daiwa rod and reel combinations.
7. Seth Davis stuck to the theme of the event, throwing either a 3.25-inch Strike King Rage Swimmer or 3- to 4-inch Keitechs in a variety of shad colors on 3/8-ounce VMC Neon Moon Eye heads on 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid with a 10-pound Seaguar Blue Label leader. Davis also threw a Rapala Jigging Rap on 10-pound Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon.
8. Austin Swindle threw a 3.5-inch Keitech Easy Shiner on a 5/16-ounce Strike King Baby Squadron swimbait head. Throwing the combo on a 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy action Hammer spinning rod with a 12-pound leader, noting that he felt a stouter set up gave him a better chance of hooking and landing fish throughout the week.
9. Jonathan Dietz followed suite with the rest of the Top 10, playing the light-line shad-mimicking game. He hunted down his fish with a 3.5-inch Strike King Baby Z Too rigged on either a 3/16- or 1/4-ounce head. His Baby Z Too was set up on a 7-foot, 1-inch, medium-heavy action Shimano Curado spinning rod matched with a 3000 size Shimano Ultegra wound with 10-pound braid to a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader.
10. After joining the shad-imitating fad, Andrew Behnke locked down the final top spot of the week. A Missile Baits Ned Bomb in a shad color or a pearl-colored soft plastic jerkbait became his “go-to” lures after making the switch out deep. Early in the event Behnke also put together a shallow pattern targeting fish with a 1/2-ounce swing-head jig and a Missile Baits D Stroyer.