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Home > Blog > 50-Pounds of Sooner Bass Earns Derek Phillips the Win!

50-Pounds of Sooner Bass Earns Derek Phillips the Win!

Posted by nation on April 22, 2014

Day_3_Weigh_in._Derek_P..jpgLeading wire-to-wire, Derek Phillips wins the STQT by a wide margin at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ Cherokee’s.   Preparation, research and a game plan were important to this win.  Jon Webb made a big jump into 2nd Place on the final day and Chris Rockwell remained steady throughout finishing in 3rd.

The 2014 State Team Qualifying Tournament (STQT) was held at Grand Lake, OK April 16-18, 2014.  The State Team Members who qualified will represent the Colorado BASS Nation at the 2015 BASS Nation Western Divisional Tournament for a chance to represent Colorado at the BASS Nation Championship, where they could go all the way to the Bassmasters Classic!

Derek Phillips, from the Pikes Peak Bassmasters Club, held the lead each day and credits nearly all of his bigger largemouth bass to a Gene Larew Biffle Bug.  The same lure that his sponsor provided for all the participants at this year’s event!  “The 15th was caught as the number 5 bass with a shaky head on the last day of the tournament,” he said.  During the event he also caught numbers of bass on a Strike King squarebill crankbait, but these were later culled by the fish caught on soft-plastic.

Phillips caught most of his daily limit of largemouth that totaled 50.33 lbs. by looking on main lake and secondary points in the mid-lake section of this large impoundment, and a few in a ditch close to a spawning area.  “Pea gravel with some larger rock was the typical structure which most of the bass were relating to.”  Derek’s largest bass of the event was a hefty 5.13 lbs.

Phillips equipment included a G. Loomis BCR 853 Jig Rod, 7’1” Med-Heavy, for the Biffle Bug, paired with a Shimano Core 50 reel, 7.0:1, spooled with 20# Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon.   The Biffle Bug color choices were Sooner Run and Dark Watermelon/Pumpkin Purple rigged on a 7/16 and 11/16 Biffle Hard Head Jig.

The final keeper was caught using a G. Loomis BCR 852 Jig Rod, 7’1”, Med. Action, Shimano Core 50 7.0:1 and 12# Invizx Fluorocarbon, tossing a Strike King Finesse Worm in green pumpkin on a 3/16 oz. football head.

For the other keepers that were eventually culled for larger bass, Phillips used a G. Loomis CBR 845, 7’ Med-Heavy, Shimano Core 6.2:1 reel, 15# Invizx, and a Chartreuse Shad Strike King 2.5 Squarebill crankbait.

Jon_Webb_at_Grand_2014.jpgThe only other angler to be consistent enough to find a limit for each of the three day tournament was Jon Webb from the Denver Bassmasters club, who finished in 2nd Place.  Like the numbers that Phillips found, Webb credits the majority of his 36.99 lbs. of bass to a squarebill crankbait, but backed up his limits using a Senko.

Looking for, “transitional rock,” and, “clear water [with] migrating fish,” Webb says that wind made a big difference on what lure he would get bit on, “When we had wind I had no problems getting bit on the crank, but the last day there was none, so I caught my weighed fish on a 5" Yamamoto Senko (Watermelon Pepper,) but in the same areas.”

Jon focused on two mid-lake areas with creek channel swings near spawning flats, “Both areas reloaded with fish every couple hours.  No other anglers fishing our tournament put pressure on my areas.  Had them to myself completely.”

When asked what his formula for success was Webb credits: “Preparation + Execution = Success!”

Jon Webb’s equipment of choice for these techniques are: for the crankbait, a Wright & McGill Rick Clunn Cranking rod and a Team Daiwa reel spooled with 12# Seaguar Invizx.  He used an Academy H2O Squarebill 2.0 in the Flat Craw color hanging Gamakatsu EWG treble hooks.

His 5” Watermelon Pepper Yamamoto Senko was tossed with a Gander Mountain GSX 7’ MH, Team Daiwa reel and 10# Invizx, rigged on a TroKar 3/0 EWG.

In 3rd Place was Chris Rockwell (DBM), who maintained a 3rd place position from the first day to the final. His 3rd day total was 32.61 lbs. that he caught fishing a Yumbrella Flash Mob Jr. A-rig, featuring 5 Berkley Havoc Grass Pig 3.5” swim baits in Tennessee Shad color.

“I was fishing secondary points just inside the mouths of the spawning creeks in the mid lake area,” Chris says, adding, “The best points were ones with gravel and scattered rock and needed to have a steeper drop. The longer tapering points didn’t seem to be holding the better fish.”

Chris feels that the very cold weather leading up to the tournament days helped his patterning of the bass.  “It held the water temperature down, keeping those fish from moving back into the creeks to spawn.  I also feel that knowing when to leave my primary areas and go find new water saved my day 3.”

Making adjustments enabled Rockwell to keep his position while qualifying for the State Team. Looking for a specific water temperature, between 55- and 57- degrees, Chris had to adjust to the warming temps as the tournament progressed.  “On day 1 I was able to find that [55-59- degree] easily and had a really nice bag,” he says.  But as the event progressed and temps began to rise Rockwell’s pattern was also changing.  “Day 2 I found 59- degree water temps in my main areas and really struggled to catch them.  I had planned on this and had planned on just moving further back in the creeks as the fish moved. Unfortunately this didn’t work, so on Day 3 I abandoned my primary areas and ran as far south as I could in search of cooler temps and fished all new water that I had never even seen. I was able to find a few areas with that 55- 57- degree water and that’s where I caught my fish on Day 3.”

Casting an Alabama Rig can be an exhausting exercise and Chris learned, “how important physical conditioning is.”  Despite the wear, Chris persevered with the A-rig throughout the event and made every minute count, saying, “I learned that having some water close to the check in area and using every minute of the day matters.  On Day 2 I caught a 3+ pound fish with less than 10 minutes left about a quarter-mile from the ramp.  That fish was critical for me on Day 2.” For the Havoc Grass Pig tipped umbrella rig, Chris’ weapon of choice is a 7’6” Abu Garcia Villain MH paired with a Pflueger Trion 5.1:1 and Spiderwire 65 lb. braid.  He used home-made 1/8 oz. jig heads.

2014_STQT_qualifiers_at_Grand.jpgRounding out the Top 10, 4th Larry Triplett (RMB) at 32.44, with crankbaits, green pumpkin finesse worms, Senko and chatterbait.  5th Jeremiah Smith (DBM) 31.22, 6th Jeremiah Hofstetter (DMB) 30.57, 7th James (Lane) Coale (SWCB) 27.42, 8th Connor Santos (PPBM) 23.07, 9th Chad Phillips (DBM) 22.63, 10th David Didomenico (DBM) 21.67.


Dave_Flemming_Big_Bass_5.69_at_Grand.jpgThe Day 3 Big Bass was caught by David Flemming (DBM) with the biggest largemouth of the whole tournament at 5.69 lbs., which Audrey reports was caught on a red craw crank bait.  The Day 3 Boat Weight side-pot went to Jon Webb and Frank Bianchi (PPBM).






Traveling_Trophy_DBM_at_Grand.jpgJeremiah_Smith_RoY_at_Grand.jpgThe Team Weight and Traveling Trophy for the 2014 STQT goes to the Denver Bassmasters, which is also the home club for this year’s Rookie of the Year, Jeremiah Smith.

This year 5 non-boaters made the State Team including the two alternates.  This STQT will seat a 2015 State Team to attend the 2015 BASS Nation Western Divisional.

President Audrey McKenney would like to say a big Thank You to all the Colorado Bass Nation Clubs and Members who supported and participated in this year’s State Team Qualifying Tournament, including a successful fundraiser to help fund our conservation and community projects, youth and military programs.  Thanks to Centennial Bass Club and Pikes Peak Bassmasters for hosting the Registration Meeting Dinner.

The next stop for the current 2014 State Team, including our High-School Team Members, is Noxon Reservoir, MT, for the 2014 BASS Nation Western Divisional, where the top finishing Colorado Bass Nation angler will win a spot to the BASS Nation National Championship event and a chance to represent the BASS Nation Western Division at the 2015 Bassmasters Classic!

Click Here for Final Standings.

The Colorado BASS Nation thanks the many sponsors who helped make this a successful event including:

The BASS Nation Triton Alliance Program:

Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Motorguide Trolling Motors, and Lowrance Electronics.

TroKar Hooks, Eagle Claw, Wright & McGillDobyn’s Rods, Dykeman Trophies, Pro Sites Unlimited

and prizes provided by CBN clubs and CBN members include:

Jeremiah Hofstetter and Livingston Lures,

Audrey McKenney and Colorado Rockies Baseball,

Derek Phillips and Gene Larew, Quantum Rods and Reels,

Centennial Bass Club and the Full Moon Open,

Denver Bassmasters and Accu-Cull and Grip Saver,

Pikes Peak Bassmasters, Rocky Mountain Bassmasters, Southwest Colorado Bass Club

for purchasing prize products,