By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

A slower presentation is the key to catching finicky bass in a lot of scenarios. Every now and then, speeding things up is the answer.

Thomas Wooten, a resident of Huddleston, Va., won the recent Potomac River Northern Toyota Series event by fishing a frog on top of mats. His cadence wasn't the normal start-and-stop routine that most anglers employ with an amphibian imitation, however. His best action came when he burned it across the vegetation.

"I like throwing a frog up there, but I haven't done very well with it over the past 6 years or so," said Wooten, whose rsum also includes four BFL wins, one of which occurred on the Potomac. "They'd been real finicky about eating it the last few years.

"Once I figured out how to work it on the mats, I was getting a blowup every 15 to 20 minutes it was pretty fast action. When I started out I threw it for an hour with no bites, but I was fishing it slow and stopping it, then popping it two or three times and stopping it again."

He saw evidence that bass were present, so he adjusted his approach in order to get them to accept his offering.

"I saw fish blowing up and there was bait moving, so I knew they were there. I changed up and started fishing it as fast as I could go my arm felt like Jello at the end of the day. It was more of a reaction bite; it was coming over the top of their heads and they weren't really looking at it, they were just blowing up.

"I was missing a lot of bites doing that, but if I hadn't done it I wouldn't have gotten the bites I did."

Middle-Day Magic

The 43-year-old Wooten caught bags that weighed 12-12, 18-00 and 14-06 for a 45-02 total. He edged runner-up Aaron Dixon by half a pound for his first triple-A victory and a payday of $33,251.

He put in 4 days of practice for the derby a period that was interrupted by a business trip back home for a meeting with a couple of clients. His day job is building houses on the land surrounding Smith Mountain Lake (the site of his other three BFL wins).

"The first day of practice I found one spot that was holding fish and I caught some on a swimjig they were in the 2- to 2 1/2-pound range," he said. "I figured if I caught a limit of those, I'd have 10 to 12 pounds and then I could go try to punch up a big one somewhere. I'd gotten some bites punching and I thought that if I did that all day I'd probably only get three to five bites, but every one I caught was a good one."

The initial day of the tournament transpired pretty much in that fashion. On day 2 he caught a small early limit on a buzzbait but couldn't get anything to eat the swimjig, so he switched to the frog program midway through the day. He ended up culling everything he'd caught on the buzzbait en route to a tournament-best 18-00 stringer.

All five of the fish in his final-day bag were enticed by the frog.

The mats he exploited were in Powells Creek. He had some company in the area, but those competitors weren't running the same program.

"Nobody else was on the frog," he said. "There were three other boats in there every day and they were catching them early on a buzzbait, then they'd leave and come back and leave and come back. They also threw some soft plastics, but I didn't see the first one throw a frog."

Gear Notes

> Frog gear: 7'2" medium-heavy Ark rod, Daiwa Tatula casting reel (8:1 ratio), 65-pound PowerPro braided line, Booyah Pad Crasher (black/blue).

Notable

> Wooten, the father of three school-age children, said he'd like to take a crack at tour-level competition at some point. "It's definitely in the back of my head and I want to pursue it," he said. "I think I'm good enough to do it. I (qualified) back in 2008, but my wife was pregnant with our first kid and I'd have been leaving them at home, so I made the decision not to do it then. Now the kids are getting older and I'm fishing a little more again and the desire to do it is definitely there if things fall into place."



Final Standings

1. Thomas Wooten -- 12-12 (5) -- 18-00 (5) -- 14-06 (5) -- 45-02 (15) -- $33,251

2. Aaron Dixon -- 17-01 (5) -- 15-03 (5) -- 12-06 (5) -- 44-10 (15) -- $12,303

3. Nolan Gaskin -- 15-02 (5) -- 13-07 (5) -- 13-05 (5) -- 41-14 (15) -- $9,525

4. Nick Hatfield -- 15-13 (5) -- 12-04 (5) -- 11-03 (4) -- 39-04 (14) -- $7,938

5. Brian Latimer -- 10-11 (5) -- 16-06 (5) -- 10-09 (5) -- 37-10 (15) -- $7,144

6. Robby Lefere -- 13-15 (5) -- 13-08 (5) -- 9-10 (5) -- 37-01 (15) -- $6,350

7. Frank Ippoliti -- 13-04 (5) -- 12-12 (5) -- 10-03 (5) -- 36-03 (15) -- $5,556

8. Jason Williams -- 14-11 (5) -- 11-14 (5) -- 7-11 (4) -- 34-04 (14) -- $4,763

9. Matt Becker -- 16-07 (5) -- 13-13 (5) -- 1-04 (1) -- 31-08 (11) -- $4,969

10. Danny L. Shanz -- 12-12 (5) -- 14-06 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 27-02 (10) -- $3,175

The following anglers did not make the cut and did not fish on day 3

11. Marty Robinson -- 11-09 (5) -- 13-11 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 25-04 (10) -- $2,977

12. Scott Wiley -- 14-11 (5) -- 9-15 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 24-10 (10) -- $2,778

13. Michael Iaconelli -- 14-06 (5) -- 10-04 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 24-10 (10) -- $2,381

14. Jonathan Dietz -- 10-11 (5) -- 13-04 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 23-15 (10) -- $2,381

15. Brent Anderson -- 10-01 (5) -- 13-12 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 23-13 (10) -- $2,381

16. Grae Buck -- 11-13 (5) -- 11-15 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 23-12 (10) -- $2,381

17. Bryan Schmitt -- 11-01 (5) -- 12-04 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 23-05 (10) -- $2,381

18. Brent Crow -- 8-03 (3) -- 14-14 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 23-01 (8) -- $2,381

19. Terry Olinger -- 10-02 (5) -- 12-13 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 22-15 (10) -- $2,381

20. Jonathan Kelley -- 13-06 (5) -- 9-07 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 22-13 (10) -- $3,081

21. Rob Jordan -- 10-05 (5) -- 12-06 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 22-11 (10) -- $2,183

22. Tony Black -- 9-08 (5) -- 12-08 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 22-00 (10) -- $2,183

23. Tyler Woolcott -- 8-09 (5) -- 12-08 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 21-01 (10) -- $2,183

24. Mark Rose -- 11-10 (5) -- 9-04 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 20-14 (9) -- $2,183

25. Jacopo Gallelli -- 11-12 (5) -- 8-01 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 19-13 (10) -- $2,183

26. John Hauserman -- 14-02 (5) -- 5-09 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 19-11 (7) -- $2,086

27. Bryan Thrift -- 8-14 (5) -- 10-06 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 19-04 (10) -- $1,984

28. Alex Posey -- 5-01 (2) -- 13-12 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 18-13 (7)

29. Robert Nakatomi -- 4-14 (2) -- 13-09 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 18-07 (7)

30. Christopher Grenier -- 11-01 (5) -- 7-05 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 18-06 (8)

31. Teimuraz Balachvili -- 10-06 (5) -- 8-00 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 18-06 (10)

32. Scott Cooke -- 3-02 (1) -- 14-13 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-15 (6) -- $102

33. Alex Johnson -- 10-11 (5) -- 7-04 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-15 (8)

34. Troy Morrow -- 9-11 (5) -- 8-02 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-13 (10)

35. Devon Banks -- 6-12 (3) -- 10-12 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-08 (8)

36. Martin Villa -- 10-00 (5) -- 7-08 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-08 (10)

37. Shawn Huwar -- 8-08 (3) -- 8-15 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-07 (7)

38. Todd Walters -- 9-11 (5) -- 7-07 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-02 (10)

39. James Maupin -- 8-01 (2) -- 8-12 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-13 (6)

40. Marshall Robinson -- 9-00 (5) -- 7-12 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-12 (10)

41. Darryl Esterly -- 8-10 (4) -- 8-01 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-11 (7)

42. Willy Dennison -- 10-05 (5) -- 6-04 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-09 (10)

43. Shane Hatch -- 8-08 (5) -- 8-01 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-09 (10)

44. Brennan Chuprinko -- 12-02 (5) -- 4-05 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-07 (7)

45. Lane Olson -- 8-00 (5) -- 8-07 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-07 (10)

46. Kurt Mitchell -- 5-08 (2) -- 10-13 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-05 (7)

47. David Kranz -- 9-00 (5) -- 7-05 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-05 (10)

48. Kirk Sullivan -- 6-09 (4) -- 9-09 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-02 (9)

49. Scout Echols -- 7-03 (5) -- 8-13 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-00 (10)

50. Joel Richardson -- 7-08 (5) -- 8-08 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 16-00 (10)

51. Lee Rogers -- 6-12 (2) -- 9-03 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-15 (7)

52. Rick Chenoweth -- 7-04 (5) -- 8-09 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-13 (10)

53. Brandon Marks -- 10-00 (5) -- 5-08 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-08 (8)

54. Hunter Mills -- 6-13 (4) -- 8-11 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-08 (8)

55. John Duarte -- 13-05 (5) -- 1-15 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-04 (6)

56. Joseph Thompson -- 4-14 (2) -- 10-06 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-04 (7)

57. Wil Dieffenbauch -- 11-01 (5) -- 4-01 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-02 (7)

58. Glenn Babineau -- 2-01 (1) -- 12-13 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 14-14 (6)

59. Dennis Burdette -- 2-01 (2) -- 12-06 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 14-07 (7)

60. Jake Morris -- 3-11 (3) -- 10-03 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-14 (8)

61. Chad Mrazek -- 8-10 (4) -- 5-00 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-10 (7)

62. Kyle Glasgow -- 3-08 (2) -- 10-00 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-08 (7)

63. Anthony Shanz -- 4-02 (1) -- 9-01 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-03 (5)

64. Tom Bateman -- 1-08 (1) -- 11-10 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-02 (6)

65. Shannon Abbott -- 11-10 (5) -- 1-04 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-14 (6)

66. Troy Garrison -- 8-01 (3) -- 4-12 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-13 (6)

67. Jessie Moore -- 3-08 (2) -- 9-02 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-10 (7)

68. Jason Kervin -- 6-09 (3) -- 5-13 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-06 (6)

69. Cody Petit -- 4-00 (2) -- 8-04 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-04 (7)

70. Wayne Vaughan -- 6-07 (3) -- 5-12 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-03 (6)

71. Thomas Guthke -- 5-10 (3) -- 6-07 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-01 (7)

72. Gary Krammes -- 6-05 (3) -- 5-09 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-14 (7)

73. Kevin Martin -- 3-04 (2) -- 8-08 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-12 (5)

74. James Siebert -- 1-03 (1) -- 10-02 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-05 (6)

75. Joshua Noel -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-00 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-00 (5)

76. Terry Fisher -- 2-11 (2) -- 7-10 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-05 (6)

77. Robert Grabow -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-04 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-04 (5)

78. Tristan McCormick -- 10-02 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-02 (3)

79. Reece Tremaglio -- 2-10 (1) -- 6-14 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 9-08 (5)

80. Randy Fowler -- 5-11 (3) -- 3-12 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 9-07 (5)

81. Sloan Pennington -- 4-06 (2) -- 4-13 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 9-03 (6)

82. David Perdue -- 8-05 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 8-05 (5)

83. Chris Dillow -- 3-08 (1) -- 4-12 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 8-04 (3)

84. Terry Hill -- 3-05 (2) -- 4-14 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 8-03 (4)

85. Woo Daves -- 5-06 (2) -- 2-12 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 8-02 (3)

86. Jeff Farmer -- 5-03 (4) -- 2-13 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 8-00 (6)

87. Heath Toler -- 1-09 (1) -- 6-03 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-12 (5)

88. Gregory Settnek -- 7-10 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-10 (3)

89. Scott Lindstam -- 5-02 (1) -- 2-05 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-07 (2)

90. Ernie Freeman -- 7-04 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-04 (4)

91. Danger Kelly -- 2-15 (2) -- 3-15 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-14 (4)

92. Duke Nave -- 5-03 (3) -- 1-06 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-09 (4)

93. Ryan Koehn-Lofts -- 3-02 (1) -- 3-07 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-09 (2)

94. Marvin Reese -- 6-06 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-06 (2)

95. Christopher Sperling -- 3-00 (2) -- 3-04 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-04 (4)

96. Craig Carns -- 2-05 (1) -- 3-12 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-01 (3)

97. Brian Trieschman -- 5-04 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 5-04 (3)

98. William Kramer -- 5-04 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 5-04 (2)

99. Joe Lucarelli -- 3-03 (2) -- 2-01 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 5-04 (3)

100. Jamie Newton -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-08 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-08 (2)

101. Brandon Pyles -- 4-03 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-03 (3)

102. Charlie Reed Jr -- 3-08 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-08 (2)

103. Michael Hall -- 2-08 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 2-08 (2)

104. Craig Saylor -- 2-00 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 2-00 (1)

105. Jason Tibbetts -- 1-08 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 1-08 (1)

106. Dan Cornelius -- 1-08 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 1-08 (1)

107. Harold Marietta -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

107. Colton Sowers -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

107. Nick Radtke -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)