After a long, grueling season capped off by an exciting Angler of the Year Championship at Mille Lacs Lake, the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series season has come to a bittersweet end. While many pros are ready to hang their treestands and pursue a giant whitetail, one thing is for certain – they are all looking forward to spending more time with their families.
Eight Garmin pros have advanced to the 2018 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell. Mike McClelland, via his Central Open victory at Table Rock Lake, along with Elite Series qualifiers Jason Christie, Greg Hackney, Mark Daniels Jr., Russ Lane, Matt Lee, Josh Bertrand and Alton Jones. Christie and John Murray each picked up an Elite Series victory.
We caught up with a few of the guys for an inside look into how they used their Garmin electronics this year.
Christie finished 2nd in Angler of the Year points and had three top-10 finishes in 2017 at St. Clair (1st), Toledo Bend (2nd) and Sam Rayburn (3rd). He relied heavily on LakeVü HD Ultra mapping, Depth Range Shading and Panoptix to seal the deal at Lake St. Clair. Here’s what he said:
With four top-12 finishes, Matt Lee had an impressive year on tour. He’ll be fishing in his second Bassmaster Classic in 2018.
“My Garmin electronics are just as important to me as having a boat. In the last few events I would have been lost without them. Whether being exactly on a sweet spot on my GPS or being able to see a 5-pounder hiding behind a rock, my units have performed incredibly.”
As a seasoned veteran on the Bassmaster Elite Series, Jones had three top-12 Elite Series finishes this season and also qualified to fish the 2018 Bassmaster Classic.
“I’ve now had a full season under my belt with my Garmin units and I’m wondering how in the world I ever got by without them. My first real look at ‘video-gaming’ with my Garmins came at the season opener on Lake Cherokee. I kept seeing smallmouth directly under my trolling motor about 35 feet down, but by the time I’d get my bait down there they’d be gone every single time. That’s when my Panoptix LiveVü Forward really showed me something. These feeding smallmouth were chasing bait, swimming fast, and not sitting still. I figured out that I could spot
these bass out away from the boat heading straight for me, then drop my bait down to the right depth before the fish got there. When they arrived, it was a bite every time. I could also spot fish moving that were not headed toward the boat. In that case I simply led the fish by casting out in front of where they were heading to, counting my bait down, then working the bait. Once they could see it they’d eat it!
At our final event, the AOY Championship on Mille Lacs, I was unhooking a fish and drifted off of my spot by about 100 yards. After returning to the front deck, I started to head back to the hot spot. As I was watching Panoptix, I noticed a lone boulder out off of the drop-off in about 30 feet of water. I made a cast with my drop shot in that direction and when it made contact with the boulder I felt that little ‘tick.’ That cast produced my biggest fish of the event, a 5-3 smallmouth. The next day I revisited that boulder and caught my second biggest fish of the event, a 5-1 smallmouth. Thanks to Garmin, it was ‘mission accomplished’ as I went on to qualify for my 19th Bassmaster Classic!”
Following his first-ever Elite Series win at Toledo Bend, Murray spoke highly of his Garmin units:
Moving forward into the 2018 season, B.A.S.S. has imposed a “no-information rule” for anglers, leaving them to rely even more on their own skills, equipment, and electronics to propel them to the top. It should be interesting!
Find out how our FLW Tour pros fared in 2017.