With all the challenges facing anglers at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on Fort Gibson Lake, it only seems logical that an Oklahoman would take the top prize. Jason Christie of Park Hill did just that, posting the second heaviest catch of the tournament in the final round to edge out Arkansas Elite Series pro Kevin Short by almost 2 pounds. Christie’s Day 3 limit of largemouth bass weighed 15 pounds, 15 ounces and gave him a total of 40-15 for the tournament. Short finished with 39-0.
Though a lot of experts thought the winning catch would come from deep water, Christie relied on the shallows for his catch. All of his bass struck in two feet of water or less.
“I knew a lot of guys would be looking deeper,” he said, “but deep water bass just aren’t as reliable for me. You catch ‘em today, and they’re gone tomorrow.”
Christie fished flats in the Whitehorn Cove area of the lake, looking for isolated rocks, logs or anything else that might hold bass. He relied heavily on his Power-Poles to hold his boat in stiff winds, so he could focus on fishing rather than boat control, saying that without the shallow water anchor system, he could not have won the tournament.
When it came to lure selection, Christie kept things simple.
“I’m an old-school bass fisherman,” he said. “I don’t carry a lot of different baits in my boat. This week I used three baits to catch all my bass: an old Rebel Wee-R crankbait, a Heddon One Knocker Spook, and a Yum Wooly Bug.”
The crankbait is long out of production, but Christie calls it “the classic square bill.”
“I like it because I can crank it as fast as I want, and it won’t roll over on me.” He added that some recent successes on the tournament trail may bring the lure back into production.
Short caught his bass on a trio of baits, as well: a Peeper’s Baits Deuce topwater prop bait, a WEC-E1 crankbait made by Ed Chambers of Zoom Baits fame, and a Zoom Baby Brush Hog. Short’s “fish-my-butt-off-pattern” fell just shy of the finish line.
“Fishing was tougher today,” Short said. “The first two days I had a limit on the Deuce by 9:30, but not today. I struggled to get bites after the front came through.”
Pre-tournament favorite and lakeside resident Tommy Biffle rebounded after a slow first day to finish fourth with 35-5. He used his namesake Biffle Bug in the Sooner Run color to catch every bass he took the scales. In 2010, he used the same bait in the same hue to win an Elite Series tournament on Fort Gibson.
For his efforts, Christie takes home cash and a Triton 19SE and 200 HP Mercury Optimax boat and motor package. He did not compete in all of the Central Opens this year, but had already earned a 2013 Bassmaster Classic berth by virtue of his Northrn Open win on the Detroit River in July. Christie calls Grand Lake — site of the 2013 Classic, Feb. 22-24 — his home water, and he’ll be a pre-tournament favorite to win the greatest championship in all of bass fishing.
On the co-angler side, Day 1 leader Joe Lane rebounded to beat Clayton Coppin by just 10 ounces. Though Lane weighed in only two bass in the finals (co-anglers have a three-bass limit), it was enough to tally 22-15 for the tournament and earn the win.
As the co-angler champion, Lane wins a Nitro Z-8 and 200 HP Mercury Optimax package.
James Elam’s 5-11 largemouth from Day 1 held on to claim Carhartt Big Bass honors and earn him a bonus check. Elam’s lunker struck a Texas rigged green pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog early on the first day.
Coppin’s 6-10 bass earned him the co-angler Carhartt Big Bass award.