Oklahoma’s Jason Christie won the Bassmaster Elite Tournament on Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle Sunday, collecting the $100,000 prize, the big trophy and a Toyota Bonus Bucks award of an extra $3,000. Just as exciting is his win-and-in Bassmaster Classic entry. He now has qualified to fish the biggest bass tournament in the world three years in a row.
Christie is growing a reputation for exciting come-from-behind victories, having notched the biggest comeback in final day history last year when he jumped from 11th to first on the last day of the 2013 Ramada Quest on Bull Shoals. This comeback wasn’t as extreme, but after starting out 26th after Day One, he finished the second day in 10th, before moving to fourth going into the final day. His final four-day weight of 72 pounds, 3 ounces was good enough to give him the win over Alabama’s Gerald Swindle by 4 ounces.
Christie had confidence in his bait and technique – a black and blue ½-ounce BOOYAH Boo Jig with a black and blue YUM Craw Chunk – but said the key to the win was learning that there were two distinct feeding periods during the tournament day, and if he wasn’t in position to work the fish when they were ready to eat, he might as well have been water skiing.
He’d predicted that it would take a 20-pound limit to stand a chance for the win, so the final day ride to the ramp and the wait to weigh in was pretty stressful. He’d done all he could to exploit those feeding periods, but the victory wasn’t sure until he heard it himself.
“I didn’t know that I’d won until they announced it on stage,” Christie said.
Christie focused much of his time in the Illinois Bayou area of Dardanelle. The water was pretty dirty from the frequent rains during the week, and Christie says that the loud rattles on the Boo Jig were a big key to getting strikes.
In addition to the rattles, the jig features a bullet-shaped head design made for coming through vegetation. A 50-strand silicone skirt and a Mustad Ultra Point black nickel hook with a Plasti-Keeper Spike to hold the trailer complete the package. It’s the added fish-attraction of the rattles that helped fish zero-in on the bait.
“Those loud rattles made a big difference in that dirty water,” Christie said. “I hit a couple spots every day on my way back in that had better water clarity and caught a 3-pounder there, but I removed those rattles for the clearer water.”
In addition to the audible sound from the rattles, the water displacement from the Craw Chunk helped in that muddy water. The oversized claws are wide and thin with ridges on top, and create tremendous swimming action.
His most productive spots were points with matted grass that had current hitting them. If the wind was also blowing into the area, it was even better. He also fished transition funnel areas near known spawning bays. A funnel, or “choked-down” area, amplifies the current due to the smaller area it has to pass through.
“Current was a big key,” he said. “You had to find those areas where current hitting vegetation or a structure change. It was a reaction bite – I had to swim or stroke the jig pretty fast to get them to hit, and I got to see every fish strike.”