By John Johnson
Editor

Losing a 10-pound fish in the closing minutes of day 1 usually isn't a real good recipe for tournament success. J.J. Ducharme overcame just such an occurrence, however, en route to winning last week's Amistad Texas EverStart.

The 33-year-old railroad engineer from nearby Brackettville, Texas caught progressively bigger bags as the event wore on, culminating with a tournament-best 23-00 on the final day. That stringer included a fish that was even bigger than the one that had slipped away 2 days earlier.



In just his fifth tournament at the triple-A level (he'd competed in two other EverStarts and two Bassmaster Central Opens since 2006), he compiled a 63-00 total for 3 days to edge out runner-up Todd Castledine by 6 ounces. Here's how he did it.

Practice

Ducharme got in 6 days of practice for the event, and it was a productive period.

"To be honest, I caught them better in practice than I did in the tournament," he said. "The fish were more ganged up and the sacks were bigger. One day I had 27 or 28 pounds."

As is so often the case, though, the bite stiffened up on day 1.

"The weather changed some, and they were dropping (the water level in) the lake as well. But other than that, I really don't know why it was different.

"I kind of knew they had to be in the same area. They'd gone from out deeper 14 to 18 feet to 7 to 12. The (nighttime temperatures) were in the 60s and it was getting up into the 70s in the afternoons, so the water temperature was gaining a couple of degrees every day."

Those big, staging fish turned out to be quite susceptible to crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

Competition

Ducharme had about 10 spots that he'd planned to rotate through, but he ended up catching all of his weigh-in fish from the same place.

"It was a relatively big area at the back of a pocket and it had two or three main ditches running through it," he said. "With the lake being down, there were flats on the sides of the ditches with scattered hydrilla."

Although it was only about a 10-minute run from the launch, it wasn't a popular area amongst the competitors.

"I was the only guy fishing there," he said. "I never saw another boat."

He had a decent day 1 that left him in 12th place a position that was 11 places lower that he would've been if he'd boated his giant bite.

"That was a pretty sickening feeling," he said. "Instead of having 18 pounds, I would've had about 24."

He moved up 8 places on day 2 as he and his co-angler boxed about 45 pounds between them from 1 to 4 p.m. The action was so hot that he said they threw back "at least two or three limits" of 3-pounders.

He entered the final day facing a 5-pound deficit. He knew that was a lot of ground to make up, but he also knew that a severe north wind (20 to 25 mph) had a good chance to keep the three anglers in front of him from catching big bags.

He arrived at his spot and found 3-foot rollers, with the water he'd been fishing transformed into the color of chocolate milk. He moved a bit outside and found some clearer water, and that's where the fish were, too.

He boated an 11-pounder at about 2 o'clock that represented an 8 1/2-pound improvement in his sack (it replaced a 2 1/2-pounder). He made one more cull after that.

Still, he didn't think he would win.

"In my mind, I had somewhere around 18 or 19 pounds I didn't think that big one was more than 8 or 9. My co-angler was saying that I had over 20, but I didn't think there was any way.

"Then in the (weigh-in) line guys were pulling out fish and their bags were going 17 or 18, and I knew mine were bigger than that. That's when I thought I had a chance."

Winning Gear Notes

> Cranking gear: 7'6" medium-action Power Tackle Composite Cranker rod, Shimano Curado G6 casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 10-pound P-Line monofilament line, Strike King Series 5 or Series 6 crankbait (bluegill).

> Spinnerbait gear: 7'6" medium-heavy Power Tackle PG104 rod, Shimano Curado E7 casting reel (7.3:1 ratio), 20-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, 3/4-ounce Revenge spinnerbait (bluegill) with gold willow-leaf and silver Colorado blades.

The Bottom Line

> Main factor in his success "I'd say it was putting my head down and not getting disgusted after losing that big one if I'd lost by an ounce, that would've been a heartbreaker. I lost a 5-pounder on the last day as well, but I didn't let that stuff get in my head. There was nothing I could do about it."

> Performance edge "The Power Tackle rods they're the best there is."

Much of the tackle referenced above is available at the BassFan Store. To browse the selection, click here..



Final Standings

1. JJ Ducharme -- Brackettville, Tx -- 18-05 (5) -- 21-11 (5) -- 40-00 (10) -- 23-00 (5) -- 63-00 (15) -- $35,000

2. Todd Castledine -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 21-01 (5) -- 24-02 (5) -- 45-03 (10) -- 17-07 (5) -- 62-10 (15) -- $12,000

3. James Stricklin Jr -- Texarkana, Tx -- 19-12 (5) -- 18-03 (5) -- 37-15 (10) -- 21-11 (5) -- 59-10 (15) -- $10,000

4. Justin Morton -- Etoile, Tx -- 18-15 (5) -- 21-04 (5) -- 40-03 (10) -- 18-08 (5) -- 58-11 (15) -- $9,000

5. Trent Huckaby -- Fort Stockton, Tx -- 21-06 (5) -- 18-04 (5) -- 39-10 (10) -- 16-13 (5) -- 56-07 (15) -- $8,000

6. Stewart Herndon -- Graham, Tx -- 19-01 (5) -- 16-14 (5) -- 35-15 (10) -- 19-06 (5) -- 55-05 (15) -- $7,000

7. Buz Craft -- Vidalia, La -- 16-11 (5) -- 26-01 (5) -- 42-12 (10) -- 12-05 (5) -- 55-01 (15) -- $6,000

8. Philip Crelia -- Center, Tx -- 12-12 (5) -- 23-06 (5) -- 36-02 (10) -- 18-06 (5) -- 54-08 (15) -- $5,000

9. Austin Terry -- San Angelo, Tx -- 19-01 (5) -- 17-15 (5) -- 37-00 (10) -- 15-11 (5) -- 52-11 (15) -- $4,000

10. Terry Adams -- Berwick, La -- 14-00 (5) -- 22-05 (5) -- 36-05 (10) -- 13-02 (5) -- 49-07 (15) -- $3,000

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

11. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 15-14 (5) -- 19-12 (5) -- 35-10 (10) -- $2,000

12. Denny Brauer -- Camdenton, Mo -- 15-13 (5) -- 19-09 (5) -- 35-06 (10) -- $2,000

13. Patrick Starnes -- Zapata, Tx -- 18-06 (5) -- 16-11 (5) -- 35-01 (10) -- $2,000

14. Rob Burns -- Plano, Tx -- 17-14 (5) -- 16-10 (5) -- 34-08 (10) -- $2,000

15. Darren Haydel -- Houma, La -- 16-09 (5) -- 17-10 (5) -- 34-03 (10) -- $2,000

16. Jacky Hawthorne -- Greenville, Tx -- 20-01 (5) -- 13-14 (5) -- 33-15 (10) -- $1,500

17. Ray Hanselman -- Del Rio, Tx -- 17-01 (5) -- 16-13 (5) -- 33-14 (10) -- $1,500

18. Kris Wilson -- Montgomery, Tx -- 14-11 (5) -- 19-00 (5) -- 33-11 (10) -- $1,500

19. Michael Herron -- Paris, Tx -- 15-00 (5) -- 18-00 (5) -- 33-00 (10) -- $1,500

20. Kelly Owens -- Crowley, La -- 18-08 (5) -- 14-03 (5) -- 32-11 (10) -- $1,500

21. Randy Cisler -- Mesquite, Tx -- 14-01 (5) -- 18-07 (5) -- 32-08 (10) -- $1,400

22. Jeromy Francis -- Magnolia, Tx -- 15-13 (5) -- 16-04 (5) -- 32-01 (10) -- $1,400

23. Michael Bates -- Canyon Lake, Tx -- 15-09 (5) -- 15-12 (5) -- 31-05 (10) -- $1,400

24. Zach King -- Clarksville, Ar -- 17-02 (5) -- 13-15 (5) -- 31-01 (10) -- $1,400

25. Aaron Johnson -- Shreveport, La -- 16-10 (5) -- 13-15 (5) -- 30-09 (10) -- $1,400

26. Robert Collett -- Zapata, Tx -- 18-10 (5) -- 11-14 (5) -- 30-08 (10) -- $1,300

27. Scotty Villines -- Ponca, Ar -- 12-10 (5) -- 17-14 (5) -- 30-08 (10) -- $1,300

28. Christopher Brasher -- Spring, Tx -- 15-01 (5) -- 15-06 (5) -- 30-07 (10) -- $1,300

29. Nicholas Albus -- Trinity, Tx -- 17-10 (5) -- 12-10 (5) -- 30-04 (10) -- $1,300

30. Alton Wilhoit -- Harrah, Ok -- 18-12 (5) -- 11-05 (5) -- 30-01 (10) -- $1,300

31. Harold Allen -- Shelbyville, Tx -- 14-05 (5) -- 15-09 (5) -- 29-14 (10) -- $1,200

32. Cody Bird -- Granbury, Tx -- 11-06 (5) -- 18-05 (5) -- 29-11 (10) -- $1,200

33. Kevin Lasyone -- Dry Prong, La -- 11-07 (5) -- 18-04 (5) -- 29-11 (10) -- $1,200

34. Charles Whited -- San Marcos, Tx -- 12-12 (5) -- 16-11 (5) -- 29-07 (10) -- $1,200

35. Jeremy Guidry -- Opelousas, La -- 13-06 (5) -- 16-01 (5) -- 29-07 (10) -- $1,200

36. Stephen Johnston -- Hemphill, Tx -- 14-00 (5) -- 15-05 (5) -- 29-05 (10) -- $1,200

37. John Ballard -- Wichita Falls, Tx -- 14-03 (5) -- 14-14 (5) -- 29-01 (10) -- $1,200

38. David Harvey -- Beaumont, Tx -- 10-08 (5) -- 18-02 (5) -- 28-10 (10) -- $1,200

39. Russell Cecil -- Willis, Tx -- 11-04 (5) -- 17-05 (5) -- 28-09 (10) -- $1,200

40. Raul Cordero -- Del Rio, Tx -- 16-01 (5) -- 12-07 (5) -- 28-08 (10) -- $1,200

41. Adrian Smiley -- Bossier City, La -- 13-08 (5) -- 14-15 (5) -- 28-07 (10) -- $1,100

42. Trent Durst -- Longview, Tx -- 13-12 (5) -- 14-11 (5) -- 28-07 (10) -- $1,100

43. Chad Griffin -- Cresson, Tx -- 14-05 (5) -- 14-00 (5) -- 28-05 (10) -- $1,100

44. Dean Perkins -- Broaddus, Tx -- 9-11 (5) -- 18-00 (5) -- 27-11 (10) -- $1,100

45. Grant Goldbeck -- Boerne, Tx -- 14-14 (5) -- 12-09 (5) -- 27-07 (10) -- $1,100

46. Barry Smith -- Palo Pinto, Tx -- 11-05 (5) -- 15-15 (5) -- 27-04 (10) -- $1,100

47. Zack Birge -- Blanchard, Ok -- 11-07 (5) -- 15-03 (5) -- 26-10 (10) -- $1,100

48. Ernie Paul -- Longview, Tx -- 15-02 (5) -- 11-08 (5) -- 26-10 (10) -- $1,100

49. Brad Drake -- Paris, Tx -- 13-10 (5) -- 12-15 (5) -- 26-09 (10) -- $1,100

50. Marty Sugg -- Pattonville, Tx -- 7-14 (5) -- 18-08 (5) -- 26-06 (10) -- $1,100

51. Jeff Kitchens -- Henderson, Tx -- 12-03 (5) -- 14-03 (5) -- 26-06 (10) -- $1,000

52. Dave Parsons -- Yantis, Tx -- 12-13 (5) -- 13-09 (5) -- 26-06 (10)

53. Timothy Griffin -- Zapata, Tx -- 9-04 (5) -- 17-01 (5) -- 26-05 (10)

54. Andrew Upshaw -- Hemphill, Tx -- 13-08 (5) -- 12-10 (5) -- 26-02 (10)

55. Peter Daniels -- Shreveport, La -- 16-00 (5) -- 10-00 (5) -- 26-00 (10)

56. Shannon Wingate -- Deridder, La -- 16-11 (5) -- 9-03 (5) -- 25-14 (10)

57. Wendell Ramsey -- San Angelo, Tx -- 9-05 (4) -- 16-01 (5) -- 25-06 (9)

58. Jim Criswell -- Del Rio, Tx -- 11-09 (5) -- 13-13 (5) -- 25-06 (10)

59. Bert Thompson -- Benton, La -- 11-14 (5) -- 13-08 (5) -- 25-06 (10)

60. John Tanner -- Quitman, Tx -- 8-12 (4) -- 16-08 (5) -- 25-04 (9)

61. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 10-13 (5) -- 14-07 (5) -- 25-04 (10)

62. Cody Malone -- Sulphur Springs, Tx -- 12-15 (5) -- 12-03 (5) -- 25-02 (10)

63. Geoffrey Imlay -- Olathe, Co -- 11-02 (5) -- 13-15 (5) -- 25-01 (10)

64. Gary Rusk -- Del Rio, Tx -- 10-04 (5) -- 14-12 (5) -- 25-00 (10)

65. Joe Don Setina -- Pittsburg, Tx -- 11-04 (3) -- 13-10 (4) -- 24-14 (7)

66. Paul Ferguson -- Whitehouse, Tx -- 8-02 (4) -- 16-11 (5) -- 24-13 (9)

67. Darold Gleason -- Leesville, La -- 9-15 (5) -- 14-14 (5) -- 24-13 (10)

68. Todd Littleton -- Bossier City, La -- 10-09 (5) -- 14-03 (3) -- 24-12 (8)

69. Patrick Fuller -- Tyler, Tx -- 13-04 (5) -- 11-08 (5) -- 24-12 (10)

70. Richard Broxton -- Temple, Tx -- 11-05 (5) -- 13-03 (5) -- 24-08 (10)

71. Jeffrey Cade -- Richardson, Tx -- 12-10 (5) -- 11-13 (5) -- 24-07 (10)

72. Jeff Sprague -- Forney, Tx -- 12-05 (5) -- 12-02 (5) -- 24-07 (10)

73. David Curtis -- Trinity, Tx -- 10-13 (5) -- 13-08 (5) -- 24-05 (10)

74. Bob Coleman -- Washington, Mo -- 12-02 (5) -- 12-00 (5) -- 24-02 (10)

75. Mark Williams -- Cleburne, Tx -- 12-00 (5) -- 11-15 (5) -- 23-15 (10)

76. Michael Harman -- Bastrop, Tx -- 9-03 (5) -- 14-09 (5) -- 23-12 (10)

77. Mark Child -- Mansfield, Tx -- 12-06 (4) -- 11-05 (5) -- 23-11 (9)

78. Eric Wright -- Scurry, Tx -- 9-02 (5) -- 14-08 (5) -- 23-10 (10)

79. Tim Reneau -- Del Rio, Tx -- 11-15 (5) -- 11-11 (5) -- 23-10 (10)

80. Russell Lohman -- Pineville, La -- 10-04 (5) -- 13-05 (5) -- 23-09 (10)

81. Chris Weaver -- Lawton, Ok -- 10-15 (5) -- 12-06 (5) -- 23-05 (10)

82. Holt Markum -- Paradise, Tx -- 12-02 (5) -- 11-03 (4) -- 23-05 (9)

83. Jonathan Simon -- Orange, Tx -- 7-09 (4) -- 15-07 (5) -- 23-00 (9)

84. Mario Riojas -- Blanchard, Ok -- 12-10 (5) -- 10-06 (5) -- 23-00 (10)

85. Shane Moore -- Argyle, Tx -- 7-07 (4) -- 15-05 (5) -- 22-12 (9)

86. Toby Tucker -- Granger, Tx -- 11-15 (5) -- 10-12 (5) -- 22-11 (10)

87. Jimmy Steed -- Laredo, Tx -- 11-02 (5) -- 11-08 (5) -- 22-10 (10)

88. Gene Eisenmann -- Frisco, Tx -- 10-07 (5) -- 12-02 (5) -- 22-09 (10)

89. James Caldemeyer -- Gilmer, Tx -- 11-02 (5) -- 11-03 (5) -- 22-05 (10)

90. Brian Clark -- Haltom City, Tx -- 10-03 (5) -- 12-00 (5) -- 22-03 (10)

91. Waylon Bullard -- Del Rio, Tx -- 11-03 (5) -- 10-14 (5) -- 22-01 (10)

92. Bob Ramsdell -- Sour Lake, Tx -- 11-11 (5) -- 10-00 (5) -- 21-11 (10)

93. Michael Yoder -- Texarkana, Ar -- 12-03 (5) -- 9-06 (5) -- 21-09 (10)

94. Kelly Jones Jr -- Deer Park, Tx -- 11-05 (5) -- 10-03 (5) -- 21-08 (10)

95. Gary Vining -- Morgan City, La -- 11-12 (5) -- 9-09 (5) -- 21-05 (10)

96. Ronnie Wagner -- Houston, Tx -- 14-01 (5) -- 7-00 (4) -- 21-01 (9)

97. Dwain Burns -- Long Branch, Tx -- 10-00 (5) -- 11-00 (5) -- 21-00 (10)

98. Kerry Fisher -- Midland, Tx -- 9-09 (4) -- 11-06 (5) -- 20-15 (9)

99. James Bass -- Carthage, Tx -- 9-14 (3) -- 10-12 (5) -- 20-10 (8)

100. Greg Gleason -- Houma, La -- 10-10 (4) -- 10-00 (5) -- 20-10 (9)

101. Mike Holland -- Ragley, La -- 8-12 (4) -- 11-10 (5) -- 20-06 (9)

102. T W Hardy -- Silsbee, Tx -- 10-12 (5) -- 9-10 (5) -- 20-06 (10)

103. Timothy Achee -- Hemphill, Tx -- 11-13 (5) -- 8-02 (5) -- 19-15 (10)

104. Jesse Fry -- Granite Shoals, Tx -- 11-02 (5) -- 8-13 (5) -- 19-15 (10)

105. David Mauldin -- Round Rock, Tx -- 9-07 (5) -- 10-07 (5) -- 19-14 (10)

106. Travis Merritt -- Iowa, La -- 9-13 (5) -- 10-01 (4) -- 19-14 (9)

107. Patrick Cascio -- Brookeland, Tx -- 5-09 (3) -- 13-14 (5) -- 19-07 (8)

108. Rick Carter -- Alba, Tx -- 9-05 (4) -- 9-09 (5) -- 18-14 (9)

109. Robert Brown -- Round Rock, Tx -- 8-03 (4) -- 10-06 (5) -- 18-09 (9)

110. Dicky Newberry -- Houston, Tx -- 8-09 (5) -- 9-15 (5) -- 18-08 (10)

111. Jonathan Garrie -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 6-06 (3) -- 11-13 (5) -- 18-03 (8)

112. John Hatton -- Buna, Tx -- 10-02 (5) -- 7-15 (5) -- 18-01 (10)

113. Kevin Smedley -- Del Rio, Tx -- 7-06 (3) -- 10-03 (4) -- 17-09 (7)

114. Kent McPhail -- Lubbock, Tx -- 9-05 (5) -- 8-02 (5) -- 17-07 (10)

115. Ryan Robichaux -- Larose, La -- 2-01 (1) -- 15-03 (5) -- 17-04 (6)

116. Bob Weaver -- Lawton, Ok -- 4-13 (2) -- 12-07 (5) -- 17-04 (7)

117. Richard Cunningham -- Ragley, La -- 5-08 (3) -- 11-10 (5) -- 17-02 (8)

118. Tyler Wilson -- Carlsbad, Nm -- 9-09 (5) -- 7-09 (4) -- 17-02 (9)

119. Tim McClure -- Tyler, Tx -- 5-14 (3) -- 10-15 (5) -- 16-13 (8)

120. Bill Lee -- Harker Heights, Tx -- 5-00 (3) -- 11-11 (5) -- 16-11 (8)

121. Ricky Campbell -- Waxahachie, Tx -- 8-12 (5) -- 7-11 (4) -- 16-07 (9)

122. Jon Lessard -- Clarksville, Tn -- 6-01 (3) -- 10-05 (4) -- 16-06 (7)

123. Lamonte Loyd -- Gilmer, Tx -- 9-13 (5) -- 6-09 (3) -- 16-06 (8)

124. James Dunn -- Lecompte, La -- 4-11 (3) -- 11-10 (5) -- 16-05 (8)

125. Randy Allen -- Shreveport, La -- 8-03 (5) -- 8-01 (4) -- 16-04 (9)

126. Elbia Ebert -- Porter, Tx -- 3-05 (2) -- 12-12 (5) -- 16-01 (7)

127. Brett Harris -- Tyler, Tx -- 9-06 (5) -- 6-11 (3) -- 16-01 (8)

128. Matthew Scogin -- Magnolia, Tx -- 4-09 (3) -- 11-06 (5) -- 15-15 (8)

129. Tommy Moore -- Monahans, Tx -- 5-13 (3) -- 9-06 (5) -- 15-03 (8)

130. Dan Battarbee -- Zwolle, La -- 7-00 (2) -- 8-03 (3) -- 15-03 (5)

131. Larry Byrd -- Lake Charles, La -- 3-14 (2) -- 11-01 (5) -- 14-15 (7)

132. Keith Surber -- Longview, Tx -- 8-05 (4) -- 6-07 (4) -- 14-12 (8)

133. Raul Morineau -- Mexico City D.F.,Mexico -- 7-01 (4) -- 6-14 (4) -- 13-15 (8)

134. Cloys Warren -- Alvin, Tx -- 13-07 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-07 (4)

135. Michael Randolph -- Austin, Tx -- 4-02 (2) -- 9-03 (5) -- 13-05 (7)

136. David Mullins -- Coppell, Tx -- 6-13 (3) -- 6-05 (3) -- 13-02 (6)

137. Melvin Dunn -- Orange, Tx -- 6-13 (3) -- 4-14 (3) -- 11-11 (6)

138. Brad Young -- Artesia, Nm -- 10-04 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-04 (5)

139. Eric Poindexter -- Eufaula, Ok -- 10-01 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-01 (5)

140. Chisholm Carruth -- Andrews, Tx -- 10-00 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-00 (4)

141. Jerrel Pringle -- Hemphill, Tx -- 3-03 (1) -- 5-08 (3) -- 8-11 (4)

142. J.B. Young -- Deer Park, Tx -- 2-04 (1) -- 6-03 (3) -- 8-07 (4)

143. Joseivan Perez -- Marion, Tx -- 5-09 (4) -- 2-13 (2) -- 8-06 (6)

144. Pete Lowe -- Woodworth, La -- 7-07 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-07 (3)

145. Torrey Parkhurst -- Weatherford, Tx -- 2-10 (1) -- 4-08 (1) -- 7-02 (2)

146. Jeary Wheeler -- Batesville, Ar -- 7-00 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-00 (3)

147. Craig Workman -- Fort Worth, Tx -- 6-03 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-03 (3)

148. Joe Gerard -- Concordia, Ks -- 1-12 (1) -- 4-03 (2) -- 5-15 (3)

149. Aaron Presley -- Moore, Ok -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-10 (2) -- 3-10 (2)

150. Bob Sealy -- Sam Rayburn, Tx -- 2-04 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 2-04 (1)

Glenn Erskine -- San Antonio, Tx -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

Big Bass

Day 1: Patrick Starnes -- 7-11 -- $300
Day 2: Philip Crelia -- 8-11 -- $300