Starks Wins Tn. Tournament

 Photos: BASS 

West Virginia professional Bass Angler Jeremy Starks did something Sunday no other pro angler from West Virginia has ever done.   Starks won the BassMaster Elite Series Tournament Event on Douglas Lake in Tennessee.  However, that wasn’t a West Virginia first.  In fact, it wasn’t even a first for Starks who won the Elite Series event on Lake Wheeler in Alabama in 2005.   However, with the victory, Starks automatically earns a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.

“To make the Classic has been a lifelong goal of mine,” he said. “I’ve had an incredible year, and even Angler of the Year isn’t out of the question.”

Starks finished the tournament with a total weight of 81 lbs/2oz over four days of fishing.  He bested second place finisher Britt Myers of South Carolina by 2lbs/1oz.

“I’d never even seen it (Douglas Lake),” he said. “But this lake fishes a lot like some of my home lakes (in West Virginia). One — Summersville — is nearly identical to this. It’s smaller, but has the same deep structure with the same deep contours where the fish want to be.”

Starks implored a technique to run a deep diving crank bait old time bass anglers refer to as "long lining" to find deep schooling bass.  The technique requires a long cast and then leaving the reel in free spool as line continues to unwind until the spool is nearly played out.  When that point came, or a fish hit, Starks would engage the spool and set the hook.

Starks said he caught all his fish on a Strike King 6 XD. He chose the blue-chartreuse color for morning light, and then switched to a blueback-herring finish when the sun rose higher.  He also used a non-rattling bait to gain reaction bites.

>Starks started the tournament on Thursday with a solid catch, but was forced off the water in the afternoon with a splitting headache.   He finished the day in 12th place. 

 

Friday, the spot where he found fish had not only held up, but gained more bass.   His catch advanced him to 3rd place.  The spot held for a third day on Saturday producing another solid stringer and moving him into second place behind Myers.

Day four however, saw his schooling fish start to break up and most were done by midday.  Starks was forced to make a move.

With only 20-minutes left in the tournament, Starks made a run to another spot where he believed bass might stack up as TVA started pulling water from the lake.

“I thought I’d stop at the mouth of a creek thinking that if they started running current, then they would all stack up there,” Starks said, referring to the bass. “I idled by, saw some bait and on the first cast caught a 5-pounder. Then I caught a 4, lost two, then caught another. I culled three times in the last minutes.”

His last cull left him with nine-minutes to make it to the check-in.  He made it.   Those last few minutes enabled him to carve his place in West Virginia bass fishing lore.

Starks becomes the third West Virginian to qualify for a coveted spot in the BassMaster Classic.  Frank Haught of Lumberport was the first West Virginia angler to fish the Classic on the James River in Virginia in 1989.   Russ Smarr qualified to fish the 2000 classic on Lake Michigan in Chicago.   Haught and Smarr both qualified to fish the event through the B.A.S.S. Federation trail as amateur anglers. 

With the Classic berth firmly salted away, Starks has four Elite Series events left and isn’t planning to coast.   He’s set a new goal sitting at #13 in the yearlong points standings.

"Angler of the Year isn’t out of the question," he said.

Starks will join me this Saturday morning on West Virginia Outdoors to recap his win and talk more bass fishing.  Hear the show Saturday morning at 7:06 on MetroNews.





 





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