SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (April. 25, 2013) - Professional bass angler Jason Christie gives spring cleaning a new meaning; he has literally cleaned up at top-tier events of bass fishing's two best-known tournament trails, the FLW Tour and Bassmaster Elite Series. In less than two weeks, he has earned more than $225,000 in prize monies from the wins and jumped to the top in one of the most popular rankings of pro bass anglers.
To those who follow the sport of bass fishing nationally, the 39-year-old angler from Park Hill, Okla., is a hot new name and talent. To those familiar with his reputation in the Oklahoma and Arkansas region over the past 25 years, Christie has long been "the guy to beat."
Christie showcased his versatility during the two April tournaments he won, first on the FLW Tour event on Arkansas' Beaver Lake, and then at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Bull Shoals Lake that crosses the Arkansas and Missouri state line. Although somewhat similar lakes and both on the White River, Christie used different techniques and gear for the respective wins.
At Beaver, Christie relied on an umbrella rig for his five-fish limit each of the four days, totaling 61 pounds, 8 ounces. He tossed a YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. rigged with swimbaits in and around boulders and other structure in water depths of 8 feet and less.
He fished the rig on a Lew's Super Duty baitcast reel spooled with 20-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon and fitted on a Falcon 7' 6" heavy-action rod.
"Having used umbrella rigs for a while now, I've seen how the heavy contraption takes a toll on gear; it especially magnifies the shortcomings in reels," Christie explained. "I've made the Lew's Super Duty baitcaster my umbrella rig reel because it features stronger gears and crankshaft, and has an oversized cranking handle. Even with its sizeable line capacity, the reel's small profile fits comfortably in my hand and I can make the long casts that are critical for this technique."
While Christie departed Beaver Lake on an emotional high with his win, he traveled to the Bull Shoals tournament with a couple of things in mind. First, that he had found the bass to still be mostly in pre-spawn condition; and second, that Bassmaster Elite events didn't allow the use of umbrella rigs that have been proving especially effective for bass in this stage.
"Discovering the bass weren't as far along in spawning condition as they normally are by now was a big deal for me," he said. "I hit Bull Shoals knowing that I'd have to catch them differently, but with a good game plan in place as to where the quality fish should be positioned."
After the tournament's original start was postponed until the next day due to severe weather, the post-front conditions that followed served as a reminder about the many challenges of spring bass fishing. Christie's versatility allowed him to adjust accordingly though, with him ultimately relying on a different technique for each of the four tournament days. Whereas on Beaver he spent most of his time rigged with one rod for umbrella-technique fishing, he had multiple rods rigged for Bull Shoals.
During the 30 mph winds of day one, Christie targeted the heavily wind-blown pockets with a crankbait. He said that one of the reasons this pattern worked so well for him was that he was able to fish efficiently both with and into the wind.
"Using a Lew's BB1 cranking reel, I could throw a crankbait forever with the wind at my back as I'd go down one side of the pocket. Yet, I was still able to make incredibly long casts going into the wind as I'd fish the other side back out and that allowed me two different presentations."
As the winds calmed and made the bite tougher on the clear lake, Christie went to a Carolina rig for his catch on day two, and then to a jig for fishing brushy pockets on day three. For his flipping, he opted for a rig featuring a BB1 with a 7.1 high-speed gear ratio and spooled with 25-pound test fluorocarbon. Christie said the BB1's large spool capacity doesn't coil the line as many baitcast reels do, and that's a plus for most techniques.
Going into the final day of competition, Christie was in 11th place and more than 5 pounds from the lead. As he sought areas with brushy pockets and flipping in mind for catching quality bass to have a chance to win, he noticed fish "busting" on top. Christie, well known around Lake Tenkiller for his Heddon Zara Spook skills, had one rigged and ready for such occasions.
His outfit consisted of a Lew's BB1 in 6.4:1 gear ratio, spooled with 30-pound braid, and fitted on a Falcon 6' 6" medium-action rod. He had a Zara Spook One Knocker tied to the end of a leader of 15-pound monofilament approximately 4 feet in length. Christie says the combination allows him to cast "crazy far."
"Isolated fish were blowing up over a really large opening in what was the last deep hole in a creek before it shallowed out, so it was critical to make a long cast as quickly as possible when I'd see one. As I turned on one fish in particular, my boat marshall (a non-fishing observer in each tournament angler's boat) said, ‘there's no way you can reach him.' My cast sailed right on target and I caught that fish."
Christie ended the day with a five-fish limit weighing 18 pounds. His four-day tournament total of 56 pounds, 8 ounces, was little more than one pound better than that of runner-up Fred Roumbanis, also from Oklahoma (Bixby).
"It's been a couple of crazy weeks and I couldn't be happier as to how both tournaments went for me. A lot of things have to go right to win at this level of competition, but it sure helps to have the right tools for the job," Christie said.
Lew's CEO Lynn Reeves said that the rod and reel company is fortunate to have individuals like Christie on Team Lew's because their involvement with the brand proves beneficial to the development of every Lew's product and for anglers of all experience levels.
"It was our pleasure to have Jason join our team late last year and he has already provided valuable input toward many of the new products that we're working on right now," Reeves said. "We're fortunate to have a long list of influential anglers like Jason who are just as concerned about our products performing to expectations as they are about their own performances. We proudly congratulate Jason on his extreme accomplishments of back-to-back wins in bass fishing's most prestigious tours."
Based on the two recent wins, Christie jumped atop the popular BassFan.com rankings of all professional bass anglers.