Fishing with jigging spoons is one of the most productive winter patterns, especially when bass are holding in deep brush and on ledges. I’ve got spoons in all sizes and shapes, from about a half-ounce to an ounce. The brand doesn’t matter so much to me, but most of the spoons I use are either silver or white. If it’s a cloudy day, or if the water is stained, white seems to work best. The rest of the time, I stick with silver. Depending on where I’m fishing, I’ll use a larger spoon if I think there’s a good chance I’ll get on big fish, or downsize if all I’m likely to catch are 2-pounders.
Fish react to a spoon differently depending on the water temperature. If it’s early in the season, I’ll rip the spoon off the bottom 3 or 4 feet. That seems to trigger strikes better. If the water is really cold and the bass aren’t very aggressive, I just lift the spoon up and let it flutter back down on a semi-slack line. Either way, I favor a 7-foot, heavy-action rod and 14- or 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line. I’ll start out ripping the spoon. If the fish are aggressive, they’ll hit it fairly hard either on the fall or when you rip it. If I don’t get any strikes, but still think there are bass down there, I’ll go to the more subtle retrieve. Most of the time a fish in cold water won’t really slam the spoon; you’ll typically feel a weight on the line on the next uplift or the spoon. That’s when a bass has inhaled it.
----- Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C.
> Day 3: 5, 15-09 (15, 49-07)
Photo: FLW/Brett Carlson - Gagliardi is off to a rock-solid start this season, clinching his second Top 10 in as many Majors. Coming off a 5th-place finish at Hartwell, he’s looking to climb higher tomorrow.
“It feels really good, especially coming of a good finish at Hartwell,” he said. “You couldn’t really ask for a better start to a season. I do like this lake. It’s good to come back here and have another good tournament and make the cut and maybe a have a chance to move up. My chances to win are slim, but you never know.
“I’m fishing a way that I can catch big fish. It’s certainly possible that I could catch a big bag. I’m just going to try to move up as much as I can and make some money and add whatever points I can toward Angler of the Year.”
He’s fishing an entirely different section of the lake than when he won in ’09 and is seeking out new water every day. He is mainly sight-fishing, but has gotten most of his big bites on swimbaits.
“There are not a lot of new fish moving up because the water has been dropping a little bit each day,” he noted. “I’ve had to change areas and fish through places. You’re forced to go out and fish new water fishing the way I am because there just aren’t enough fish pulling up in these places to keep going back and catch them day after day.” Complete Story
> Day 1: 5, 15-10
> Day 2: 5, 17-12
> Day 3: 5, 15-04
> Day 4: 5, 12-07
> Total = 20, 61-01
Anthony Gagliardi compiled the vast majority of his weight from a single area. It was adjacent to a spawning flat and featured a road bed, a ditch and a rounded shoal point.
"One thing that helped me was not having to make the same cast over and over again, because something like that usually won't hold up," he said. "Those fish were constantly moving, and me moving with them allowed it to hold up."
He caught two quality fish on day 2 on a Buckeye Suspend Blade and a good one on the final day on a Little Creeper All American Trash Fish swimbait. The other 17 he weighed in came on a Buckeye Spot Remover jighead with a Senko attached.
> Shakey-head gear: 7'3" heavy-action Cashion worm rod, Lew's Tournament Series casting reel, 10-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, 1/4-ounce Buckeye Spot Remover jighead, 5" Yamamoto Senko (green-pumpkin).
> Main factor in his success – "Sticking with that one place. I always caught a decent limit pretty fast every day."
> Performance edge – "My Humminbird electronics. I wasn't looking for schools of fish, but individuals. I could move around in the area and when I saw something I thought was a bass, I could drag a bait behind me or cast to it." Read More
> Day 4: 5, 12-07 (20, 61-01)
Gagliardi moved up two places in the standings today despite weighing his lightest bag of the tournament. The high finish was welcome after a poor 2011 that saw the former AOY finish 88th in the points.
"It feels good, especially after a not-so-stellar year last year," he said. "It's nice to get off to a good start."
Unlike some of the other top finishers, he didn't bounce around a lot. He did most of his damage from a single locale.
"It was definitely tougher today. I only got four keepers off my main spot, then I had another place where I could catch keeper (spotted bass), so I went there and picked up one or two. Then I ran up the river and caught my biggest one on a swimbait, but I also lost a 5-pounder.
"My best place was real close to a shallow spawning flat, and I think today most of them had moved on in there." Complete Story
If there was a crowd favorite it had to be Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. And, in the end, he didn’t disappoint. Using a catch of 61 pounds, 1 ounce, Gagliardi turned in a fifth-place performance to claim $20,000 in prize money.
“I really feel like I made the most of what I had to work with,” said Gagliardi. “I really milked my spots for everything they had.”
Gagliardi, who had been fishing both deep and shallow all week, knew that he was in for a tough day right from the get-go.
“I started out deep and I could tell right away that the fish were acting differently and that it wasn’t going to be as good as a few of the other days,” he said. “So I started running around and wound up going shallow. I was throwing a swimbait and a Buckeye Spot Remover with a Senko but I just wasn’t able to get the big bites I really needed.”
Overall though, he said he was happy to have made the cut.
“When they first announced we’re coming here I was really excited,” he said. “When we came here last time, the lake really didn’t show what it was capable of producing. But I think now all the anglers know what Lake Hartwell is all about.” Complete Story
“I bought some at the Chevy Pro Night before the Pickwick event,” Gagliardi said. “I threw it some at that tournament so I knew they’d bite it, but I didn’t realize the potential.”
Largely due to the reports of a tough practice, Gagliardi thought he was in good shape with 13 or 14 pounds the first day fishing grass edges.