Louisiana’s Caleb Sumrall Wins B.A.S.S. Nation Championship
Photo Credit: Gettys Brannon – BASS
ANDERSON, S.C. — A rogue cloud formed the beginning of a winning pattern for Caleb Sumrall at the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors.
Sumrall of New Iberia, La., weighed a three-day total of 36 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the global competition of bass club anglers on Lake Hartwell.
An unproductive practice in shallow water forced Sumrall to expand his search to the lower, deeper end of the massive 56,000-acre lake. The cloud pattern miraculously came together during Thursday’s opening round.
“A patch of clouds came over, and I recalled a tip from a friend about casting a (Zoom) Fluke into schooling fish under those conditions,” recalled Sumrall, 30, and a member of the Atchafalaya Bassmasters.
The friend was fellow Louisianan Jamie Laiche, who discovered the pattern while fishing the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Sumrall had such a rig on his front deck. On consecutive casts he caught keepers to give him confidence that a game plan was coming together.
On Thursday, he weighed 11-5 and entered the standings in ninth place. Early the next morning he returned to the spot. The low-light conditions were ideal for stimulating the schooling fish to bite the soft jerkbait. After a flurry of activity a limit was in his livewell, including a largemouth weighing 5-15.
“The big difference was my schooling fish were very concentrated in numbers,” he explained. “Elsewhere the schools were smaller and more loose.”
Sumrall described the key area as a main lake shoal in 11 feet of water. Growing within 4 feet of the surface was a patch of hydrilla.
“I’m a Louisiana boy and that made the spot even sweeter for me.”
The key bait was a Zoom Super Fluke. He rigged that to a 1/4-ounce weighted Gamakatsu Superline EWG Weighted Hook. Gluing a plastic rattle inside the hollow body added strike appeal.
By midmorning the schooling fish settled down. A drop-shot rig coaxed slow biters to fill his limit.
Sumrall weighed 15-10 on Friday and finished the tournament with a limit weighing 9-13.
Runner-up Luke Gritter alternated between the river and main lake. The double effort produced a final weight of 34-8
“I fished the river for the bigger largemouth and filled out my limit with the spotted bass in the lower lake,” explained Gritter, a carpenter from Otsego, Mich., and member of the West Michigan Elite Bass Club.
Gritter fished a brown 3/8-ounce leadhead jig and 3/8-ounce spinnerbait along shoreline woody cover in the river. In the lake, he chose a drop-shot rig made with a 6-inch Roboworm, 4/0 hook and 1/4-ounce weight. A Lucky Craft Sammy produced strikes during the topwater bite.
Third-place angler Marty Giddens refused to go chasing the lake’s notoriously evasive schooling bass. After three days, his total catch weighed 32-10.
“I tried it but just don’t have the patience,” said Giddens, a plumbing and home contractor from Eclectic, Ala.
Instead, Giddens focused on boat docks on a five-mile stretch of the lake.
“I skipped a plastic worm to probably every dock, just ‘grinded’ it out,” he said.
Giddens used a 1/8-ounce Davis Baits Screw Lock Shaky Head, with a 6.5-inch Netbait T Mac Worm.
Sumrall, Gritter and Giddens advance to the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The Classic is March 16-18 on Lake Hartwell.
Sumrall also received the Bryan V Kerchal Memorial Trophy. A Skeeter ZX200 rigged with Yamaha SHO 200 outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics is part of the prize package. A berth in the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series is also reserved for Sumrall. He receives $16,000 for entry fees by accepting the invitation.
The Top 3 anglers earned paid entry fees in the division of their choosing for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, and for year the use of a B.A.S.S. Nation’s Best package. That is a Phoenix Boat with standard factory accessories.
Gritter won a Skeeter TZX190 and Yamaha SHO 150, rigged with the same accessories as the winner’s boat as runner up.
Giddens won a Triton 189 TRX, Yamaha VF150LA and Triton standard equipment for third place.
The championship is truly the only global bass club competition of its kind. Joining anglers from 47 states were those from five continents. Mexico, Japan, Australia, Portugal, Italy, Zimbabwe, Namibia, the province of Ontario and the Republic of South Africa were the nations represented in the championship.
Visit Anderson hosted the event at Green Pond Landing and Event Center in Anderson County.
2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors
Lake Hartwell, Anderson, SC
(BOATER) Standings Day 3
Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$
1. Caleb Sumrall New Iberia, LA 15 36-12 0 $56,985.00
Day 1: 5 11-05 Day 2: 5 15-10 Day 3: 5 09-13
2. Luke Gritter Otsego, MI 15 34-08 0 $50,335.00
Day 1: 5 08-14 Day 2: 5 11-01 Day 3: 5 14-09
3. Marty Giddens Eclectic, AL 15 32-10 0 $37,293.00
Day 1: 5 17-09 Day 2: 5 04-15 Day 3: 5 10-02
4. Tray Huddleston Russellville, AR 11 31-15 0 $3,250.00
Day 1: 5 14-03 Day 2: 5 15-05 Day 3: 1 02-07
5. Mark Lodge Alfred, ME 13 31-07 0 $2,000.00
Day 1: 3 05-14 Day 2: 5 11-15 Day 3: 5 13-10
6. Mike Lavallee Sandy, UT 15 30-12 0 $1,000.00
Day 1: 5 13-02 Day 2: 5 07-11 Day 3: 5 09-15
7. Dean Silvester Boonah Queensland AUSTR 15 29-08 0 $1,000.00
Day 1: 5 08-06 Day 2: 5 10-05 Day 3: 5 10-13
8. James Van Rooyen Lidwigsdorf Windhoek NA 15 28-15 0 $500.00
Day 1: 5 12-03 Day 2: 5 07-13 Day 3: 5 08-15
9. Wyatt Smith Stroud, OK 14 27-12 0 $500.00
Day 1: 5 08-11 Day 2: 5 10-14 Day 3: 4 08-03
10. Matt Pangrac Norman , OK 15 27-11 0 $500.00
Day 1: 5 13-06 Day 2: 5 05-08 Day 3: 5 08-13
BIG BASS OF TOURN
Luke Gritter Otsego, MI 06-03 $500.00
Day #Limits #Fish Weight
1 42 258 450-15
2 33 235 380-05
3 9 52 108-11
84 545 939-15