Top 10 baits from Grand Lake - Major League Fishing

Top 10 baits from Grand Lake

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Various flipping and pitching baits did the bulk of the damage for the Top 10 at Grand. Photo by Phoenix Moore. Angler: Jordan Hartman.
April 16, 2024 • Jody White, Phoenix Moore • Toyota Series

GROVE, Okla. – The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Plains Division event on Grand Lake was a primetime spring tournament. Every day, multiple 20-pound bags hit the scale, and pros and Strike King co-anglers alike did very well.

With most of the pros targeting staging or spawning fish, a mix of shallow forward-facing sonar worked, plus sight-fishing and blind bed fishing. And, some anglers even saw success “just fishing.”

Here’s what worked best for the top performers.

1. Breeden ‘Scopes shallow

 Cole Breeden sacked up 62-15 using LiveScope to target fish staging or spawning on flatter banks in the mid-lake region.

Catching most of his fish on a Texas-rigged Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Creature Hawg, Breeden also applied a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Hit Worm Magnum on a Neko rig. For his Texas rig, he used a 7-foot, 6-inch, heavy Abu Garcia Fantasista X paired with an Abu Garcia Zenon X, 17-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon, a 4/0 hook and a 1/4-ounce Picasso weight

2. Lawrence stays hot

As usual, Jake Lawrence caught the snot out of them – this time the location happened to be Grand Lake.

“When you got around one, spawning or staging, man, they would eat that Neko,” he said. “I know it’s a big jig lake — I caught a few on a jig — but it seemed like, efficiency-wise, even with the wind, as soon as I could get the Neko rig around them, they would eat. I had a deck full of rods, but that’s literally what I weighed every fish on.”

For his Neko, Lawrence used a 5-inch Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General. Notably, he threw it on a 7-foot, 2-inch Jenko DCVR High Roller baitcaster, with a Bates The Hundo reel and 30-pound braid with a 15-pound fluoro leader.  

“It’s got so much more torque; I feel like I can manhandle them away from the cover and then play them out,” he said of his baitcaster setup. “In those first few seconds that are so critical, I feel like I have more power over them.”

Fishing for spawning and staging fish he saw on his sonar in fairly shallow water, Lawrence stayed away from the obviously large brush piles and the like.

“At Grand, the big stuff, the stuff you would mark, that’s not where they’re at,” he said. “When you go ‘Scopin, there’s too much trash — drum, catfish, there aren’t bass. The bass will get on the smallest little limb. That’s what they were spawning around. It’s crazy, but it makes sense, they just don’t want to be up there competing.”

3. Back-to-back Top 10s for Hartman

In the thick of the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year race despite Lawrence’s ridiculous run, Jordan Hartman relied on one bait in a few configurations for his finish.

A Strike King Rage Bug in green pumpkin with some orange dye was Hartman’s primary producer, and he threw it on a wobble head, a Texas rig and a shaky head. He used 17-pound fluoro, a Lew’s HyperMag reel and a Lew’s Custom Lite rod.

“It depended on what I was doing. If I was sight-fishing I was throwing the Texas rig; if I was fishing out for ones I couldn’t quite see, I’d throw the shaky head or the wobble head,” Hartman said. “I was looking for places they could spawn, but also stage. I fished more on the main lake. I was catching pretty much all my fish on flat, white rock. I don’t know the technical name for it, but that shelfy rock. We had a really calm day in practice, and I found a bunch of beds in that shelfy rock, in the gravel that was mixed in it. I would drag out in front, and if it was really calm I could see them.”

4. Seen and unseen spawners power Ryley

Finishing fourth, Jackson Ryley fished a trio of baits on a Texas rig.

“I was flipping the whole time, it was all staging and spawning fish,” he said. “My water wasn’t as clean, so I didn’t sight-fish a lot of the time, but I think they were on beds. I’d pick apart the spawning pockets, and really just fish thoroughly.”

For unseen fish, he used a Big Bite Baits Tour Flipper Tube in Ozark craw and a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, and for bedding bass he saw, he used a Z-Man RaZor ShadZ.

5. Trolling motor snafu costs Fields

Running a similar shallow ‘Scoping pattern to Breeden and Lawrence, a trolling motor breakdown on Day 1 cost Ethan Fields about half a day of fishing. So, after mustering 14 pounds on Day 1 and then blasting 20-11 and 19-3, he only finished fifth.

Fields’ primary baits were a Geecrack Baobab Hog EX on a 1/4-ounce Texas rig with a Jig Shack tungsten weight and a 3/8-ounce Strike King Compact Tungsten Casting Jig with a Geecrack Bellows Craw trailer.

“I was fishing just any rock or piece of brush,” Fields said. “When the tournament came around, I figured out they were spawning. I was pretty much just going around, trolling motor on high, and pretty much every fish I could get to bite — it might be one cast, it might be eight casts. The final day, for some reason, I caught some of my good fish out deeper, in like 16 foot — it was fun. Day 2, I was trying to catch like 25 pounds. I was sticking everything that bit. I caught so many 4-pounders.”

6. Turano ‘Scopes and skips

Fishing docks and LiveScoping, Matteo Turano made his second Top 25 of the season.

Though he did catch one fish on a Buckeye G-Man Ballin’ Out Jig, the majority of his bass fell for a Yamamoto Senko on a Neko with a 3/32-ounce weight.

“I was focusing on boat docks with a lot of brush behind them,” he said. “I was using my LiveScope to see if docks had a lot of brush on them, so, I was picking apart docks pretty slow, and LiveScoping brush in 4- to 8- feet of water. I was trying to focus on more shallow banks. There were some banks that were really steep, and some were more shallow, and it seemed like they had more fish on them.”

7. Blade carries Kitts to the Top 10

Though he wasn’t super reliant on technology, Kyle Kitts pretty much fished to the plan of the rest of the Top 10 and Grand Lake as we have always known it.

“I was targeting wood and docks, behind docks,” he said. “Sight-fishing without sight-fishing, just finding more stained water, running the backs of stuff that had a little more stain.”

His primary bait was a 5/8-ounce spinnerbait made by a friend with a Colorado and Indiana blade and titanium wire. He trailered it with a Berkley PowerBait Paddlin’ PowerStinger. When he flipped, he used a 5/16-ounce Texas rig with a Berkley PowerBait Power Hawg.

8. Bonds spinnerbaits and sight-fishes

Though he was in second after Day 2, a few strategy miscalculations ended up costing Jason Bonds.

“I screwed my own self,” he said. “I wish I had more experience with Grand. The first time I went, the wind blew like this, but I don’t really remember the direction. In practice, I looked up the wind, and looked where it was going to blow. On Tuesday, I looked for them, and I started finding them, I marked probably 35 fish between 3 1/2 and 5 pounds. That’s a lot. When I started seeing them, 3-pounders were easy to find.”

Bonds’ problem was that on Day 1 of the tournament, he didn’t go to the bulk of his bedding fish, believing that the wind would make them unfishable. He later found out that Michael Harlin fished there on Day 1 and caught 23 pounds. On Day 2, all was well – Bonds blasted the bed fish. On Day 3, things went sideways again, as the wind was blowing in all the wrong places for Bonds to successfully sight-fish.

His best bait on beds was a green pumpkin jig with green pumpkin blue Xcite Baits Raptor Tail Junior Craw. He also used a Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Bug. His spinnerbait of choice was a 3/4-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Spinnerbait with double willows in sun perch, with a chartrusion Xcite Baits Shadnasty Swimbait trailer. For rods, reels and line, he used G. Loomis sticks, Shimano reels and Seaguar Tatsu.

9. Spinnerbait also does work for Scanlon

Always in the mix on Grand Lake, it sounds like Casey Scanlon may have had the most fun of anyone in the tournament.

“I was doing a lot of typical blind bed fishing in practice, but I really just fished new water every day,” he said. “The first day I went late to a channel swing with wood, and really could have had the biggest bag of the tournament — I broke off two 5-pounders behind docks. So, I went from 20-pound up to 25-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon and never lost another fish. I basically ran around, fished the wind and fished places I typically catch them. The last day, I landed on a shad spawn, and caught like 50 keepers and just never landed on a giant one. They were big gizzard shad, and it was fun. You could catch fish on four or five casts in a row sometimes.”

The only bait he needed was a 3/4-ounce Trophy Bass Co. Ozark Flash Spinnerbait, which he trailered with a 3.8-inch Bass Pro Shops XPS Speed Shad and a 1/0 Hayabusa WRM929 trailer hook.

10. Brumnett wins the Brumnett tournament and the Oklahoma tournament

The highest finisher with an Oklahoma address and the best of the three Brumnett’s in the field, Tate Brumnett beat out his dad and older brother on the week.

“I caught them pitching a Brush Hog and a little jig, just flipping around, catching spawners,” he said.

Brumnett’s primary bait was a Zoom Brush Hog on a 3/8-ounce Texas rig. He used 20-pound Seaguar InvizX, and a 7-foot, 3-inch Falcon Cara Amistad to present the bait.