Joshua Wagy couldn’t have asked for a better time to catch his heaviest five-fish stringer from the James River than during the first 2012 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open, June 14-16. The 23-year-old DeWitt, Va., native thought he could count on 12- to 14-pound bags each day and take a nice check home, but his 19-11 from Day 2 vaulted him into serious contention for the win. He also earned a $250 Bass Pro Shops gift card courtesy of the Luck “E” Strike Heavyweight Award.

To Wagy, the icing on the cake is a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, which is set to be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees this February.

Wagy only brought four fish to the scales today, but they weighed 7-7 and gave him a total of 39-4, which edged out Robert Whitehurst by six ounces. Whitehurst finished with 38-14.

“I don’t really know what to say,” Wagy said as he stood with the trophy in front of the crowd at the Ashland, Va., Bass Pro Shops. “To win here in front of my family and friends is a big, big deal for me, especially since my dad taught me most of what I know.”

Wagy’s winning day didn’t start as well as it ended. He didn’t get his first bite until 7:30 this morning, 90 minutes after launch.

“I told my co-angler, ‘I’ve got to make a game-changing decision,’ and we went to my last little place that I hadn’t hit yet,” he said. The move proved most prudent, as he started getting bites, slowly amassing the 7-7 that carried him to victory.

He relied on a Lobina Lures Rico topwater popper-style bait and a Texas rigged 7-inch Berkley PowerBait worm for most all of his catch. He pitched the Rico far back under overhanging trees and along laydown logs, and allowed the worm to be washed along by the current for a natural presentation. The other part of his plan was running the tide and hitting his spots for the right amount of time.

“I got most of my bites on the first bit of the outgoing tide, and you had to be at the right spots at the right time, otherwise they weren’t biting,” he said. “The tide is everything, because none of my spots are super-secret, they’re all kid of community holes.”

Along with the Classic berth, Wagy took home a cash prize and a boat and motor package worth $50,000.

Robert Whitehurst, one of the more consistent anglers in the field, walked away with a runner-up check worth $13,632. In third place is bass fishing legend Woo Daves, who fought hard after a subpar Day 1. He ended up with a total of 37-15. In fourth place is last year’s Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open winner Kelly Pratt with 37-11, and in fifth place is Horce Linwood Boltz with 37-9.

In the co-angler division, Alan Jackson held on to his lead today by catching 5-7 today, which gave him a total of 21-0. Jackson relied on 3/8-ounce, white Terminator spinnerbait. Altering the rate of retrieval proved to be the ticket to his getting bit. For his win, Jackson will take home a Skeeter bass boat with a Yamaha outboard.

“This is amazing. I want to thank a buddy of mine, because he reminded me about this tournament. He was fishing so I figured I should fish it, too,” Jackson said. “It’s been an amazing week. All of the guys I fished with were amazing. I can’t believe I’m here.”

Behind Jackson is Tony Osborne with 20-2; in third place is Donnie Meade with 19-0; in fourth place is Jeffrey Seamans with 18-14; and in fifth place is Robert Seymour with 15-6.

Ben Parker’s 6-1 largemouth from Day 1 ended up being the Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament, earning him $500.

Image courtesy Bassmaster

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