Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
The only angler targeting smallmouth all three days, Gary Adkins brought in just enough on the final day to edge Trent Palmer by 4-ounces. Adkins added 16-pounds, 7-ounces to bags of 19-pounds, 12-ounces on day one and 15-pounds, 10-ounces on day two to finish the event with a three-day total of 51-pounds, 13-ounces and his first NPFL victory.
Adkins braved the big water all three days and stuck with his game plan to target smallmouth on shallow shoals with bottom baits. On day three, he changed his approach slightly and rotated through some reaction baits to give the fish a better look. Adkins lost a key fish this morning on Live Coverage but remained focused and caught enough to capture the victory.
With a three-day total of 51-pounds, 9-ounces, Sonar Pros Pro Trent Palmer weighed in bags of 19-pounds, 11-pounds, 2-ounces and 21-pounds, 7-ounces to finish in the 2nd place spot. Palmer worked a combination of smallmouth and largemouth bass this week and got his tournament off on the right foot on day one.
Kevin Martin fished a largemouth deal to finish with a three-day total of 50-pounds, 8-ounces and earn the 3rd place spot. He caught consistent bags all three days and brought in another limit of largemouth bass that weighed 16-pounds, 11-ounces and ended just over a pound from the lead.
Martin sampled Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron in practice but did not find enough to make the long run with projected rough weather. He switched game plans to focus on largemouth and executed every day of the tournament.
“I had another good day but it wasn’t quite good enough,” laughed Martin. “I was fishing a Big Daddy Baits buzz bait and rotating through a swim jig and flipping presentation when I slowed down. The swim jig was a white custom jig and the flipping bait was a Mud Puppy Custom Lures Trash Possum. The water levels changed daily and I moved around to follow the fish”
When he arrived at his primary area this morning, the water has come up a bit. He caught two fish on his area before moving to the back of the shallow bay and going to work. With a few proven baits on his deck, day three brought change and Martin was able to adapt and catch his bass on a frog.
“I had not thrown that all week and I got back and the water was up, they were just biting it. Anytime the water gets up, especially in a shallow bay, the fish will typically move with it.”
With 16-pounds, 8-ounces on the final day, Randy Kukral finished in the 4th place spot with a three-day total of 49-pounds, 11-ounces. He caught bags of 17-pounds, 14-ounces on day one and 15-pounds, 5-ounces on day two to earn the top 5 finish.
With a three-day total of 49-pounds, 8-ounces, John Soukup added 15-pounds, 11-ounces on the final day to finished in the 5th place spot. Soukup began his consistent week with bags of 17-pounds, 3-ounces on day one and 16-pounds, 11-ounces on day two and noticed the falling water in his areas moved the bass around as the tournament progressed.
With his biggest bag of the week of 17-pounds, 11-ounces on Finale Friday, Progressive Angler of the Year leader Timmy Reams finished in the 6th place spot with a three-day total of 49-pounds, 5-ounces. Fishing close by the take off all week, he focused on a pond area up river all three days.
“I focused on a pond and the mouth of it all week. It had grass and lily pads and on the first day I caught them on some moving baits, Jackhammer and spinnerbait, and some on a frog. Day two there was some wood at the mouth and I moved back in and caught my weight the same way as day one.”
Returning to his area this morning, Reams landed on them right off and was able to put together a 15-pound limit to get his day off on the right foot and got to work upgrading a few times later in the day.
“I caught them on a frog right off and it was awesome to get that weight early. After that I settled in and upgraded a few times this afternoon flipping a Missile Baits D-Bomb.”
Leading the Progressive Angler of the Year race coming into Saginaw Bay, Reams did more than enough to keep him at the top of the leaderboard with two events remaining. Reams has heard the talk but has focused on just doing what he is comfortable with and continues a stellar year thus far.
“I try not to think of it but you do hear it. I’ll just keep fishing my strengths and keep on the momentum. That’s what this sport is all about. I’m looking forward to Sandusky, not the wind, but the place has a lot of fish and it’s another place that largemouth could probably make a top 15.”