Photo Credit: BASS
Corey Brant and Matt Stearns Punch Tickets to Nationals to Represent Minnesota BASS Nation
Practice for the Minnesota BASS Nation State Team on the sprawling Toledo Bend Reservoir was sporadic and frustrating, as anglers were either catching a lone big bass, or not getting any bass over the four pound mark, the later was true for Champions Tour Angler Corey Brant.
“Without a doubt this was the worst practice I’ve had for any tournament,” said Brant as he was traveling home from the BASS Nation Central Regional. “I found some fish up shallow and with the help of our team meetings, a lone offshore Carolina-rigging spot.”
This offshore flat set up ideally for the Toledo Bend bass to start their migration up to the shallows to spawn, as it rose from the main river channel in 20 foot and topped off at 8 feet. Like much of the Reservoir, there was no shortage of timber on the flat, making fishing it no easy task.
Add in the fact that the strong winds blew during practice and the tournament; this flat out on the main lake would be a challenge for anglers to fish productively.
Corey was one of the later boat numbers on the first day and didn’t have to check in until 4:30 p.m., this would prove to be very key for him. Corey began his day flipping an All-Terrain AT Jig up shallow in the flooded Cypress Trees and Buckbrush to catch the early wave of bedding bass.
After boating two small keeper bass on a swim jig, Corey hooked up with a good bass that wrapped him around a log and unfortunately got off. Déjà vu on the next bite, when as he was boat flipping in a solid largemouth, the fish came unhooked, “I was heartbroken after those two lost fish, it was 2:30 and I only had two fish for 3 lb’s,” said Corey.
Returning to my initial statement that the long day would prove to be vital for Corey, as in the final two hours of his day, he boated the next five bites on the AT Jig and assembled a limit for 12 lb 10 oz, not earth shattering, but it gave Corey hope for the next two days.
The second day was Corey’s short day, but being boat number 12 gave Corey the chance to get into a popular creek right by takeoff in the hopes to get a quick limit, so he could get out on the main lake flat that was nearly unfishable on day one.
“On my way into the creek I was able to get around a four pounder off a point on a C-Rig, so I was going into my desired location with a good one already in the boat,” stated Corey.
This put Corey at ease and allowed him to work his jig slowly and methodically around the flooded brush to pick up three more solid keepers, again well ahead of his day one pace. From here Corey headed out to the main lake flat and quickly got his limit fish, followed shortly by Toledo Bend big un’, a 7 lb 4 oz fish that gave Corey about a five pound cull.
“That bass is my biggest bass ever and getting it in a tournament like this was exciting beyond belief,” exclaimed Corey. “At this point, I knew I was pot-committed to this area the rest of the day.”
The winds continued to pound this offshore flat and the boat Corey had borrowed for this event had the Minn Kota Ultrex on it, a proven game changing piece of equipment. “Without Spot-lock on the Ultrex, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to stay on that flat all day and upgrade my limit, it was huge and I can’t thank Aaron Daeges enough for letting me use his rig.”
Over the course of day two, Corey upgraded his limit using a Carolina-rigged soft plastic creature bait to rack up an almost 23 lb limit that pushed him up to third place.
PHOTO CREDIT: BASS
Corey’s strategy for the third day was to continue to learn and exploit the timber lined flat on Toledo Bend with his Carolina-rig. “You had to let your tungsten weight make contact with the timber, so using 20 lb Fluorocarbon was a must and going from a ½ oz to a ¾ oz sized weight when the wind picked up was a must.”
The moment on day three when Corey thought he may have a chance at the win was when he picked up a crankbait for the first time all week, fired it out and upgraded his limit with a 6 lb 8 oz bass. “I knew it was going to be close at this point, but down deep I knew I still needed one more upgrade.
PHOTO CREDIT: BASS
Corey was in the “hot seat” for a while but missed out on getting the win, instead getting his second, second place finish in a BASS Federation Divisional/Regional event in three years.
Corey’s Tournament Stats –
Day 1: 12 lb 10 oz (71st)
Day 2: 22 lb 15 oz (3rd)
Day 3: 20 lb 14 oz (2nd)
“I first want to thank my wife; I went from my work sales meeting to this tournament, so she has been home with our two kids for almost two weeks, so I owe her! The support and help of the Minnesota BASS Nation is over the top and makes the whole experience top-notch! Also thank you to All-Terrain Tackle and Classic Bass for their support.”
Stearns Takes Top Spot for Minnesota Co-Anglers
Matt Stearns qualified for the MN Bass Nation Team when he was a high school angler last year, but now is a freshman at Winona State University and on the schools fishing team. Like many successful co anglers, having a keen eye and paying attention to what their boater is doing was key for Matt. “I paid very close attention to the casts that my boater was making and tried to hit different spots then him on every cast.’
During practice Matt noticed something that would prove very beneficial to him during the tournament, “I saw a cypress tree floating across the lake and noticed the root system was very large. So instead of making the obvious cast to the base of the tree, I would cast ten feet to the right or left of the tree and work it all the way back to the boat, instead of shaking it a few times and reeling in for another flip.” This tactic got Matt almost half of his bites over the three days, a successful observation indeed!
Lastly Matt aimed to keep his bait in the water as long as possible. “I know it sounds obvious, but knowing that I was only going to get a couple bites a day meant being as efficient as possible and making sure your line was always in the water.”
Matt’s three day total of nine bass weighed 22 lb 11 oz and put him in 21st spot overall, but the top finishing co angler on the Minnesota team, so he’ll be joining Corey at the BASS Federation Nation Championship this fall.
Matt’s Tournament Stats (3 Bass Limit) –
Day 1: 8 lb (32nd)
Day 2: 7 lb 8 oz (25th)
Day 3: 7 lb 3 oz (21st)
As Corey and Matt eye up their trip to the BASS Federation Nation Championship this fall at a to be announced location, Classic Bass will catch up with them, so stay tuned to Classic Bass.
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