By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Jamie Hartman's second Bassmaster Elite Series victory in three events wasn't a 10th-to-1st final-day charge like his initial triumph at Lake Guntersville in June, but it nonetheless contained plenty of drama as the native New Yorker prevailed in his home state.

Hartman, who missed most of the 2018 campaign with a back ailment, weighed a 22-04 sack on the final day at Lake Cayuga to edge Jeff Gustafson, the leader after days 2 and 3, by 10 ounces. Gustafson became the second Canadian angler to be toppled on the final day in the Empire State in consecutive weeks the same fate befell Chris Johnston at the St. Lawrence River when Micah Frazier rallied to win.

Hartman, whose 44-06 combined weight over the final two days was easily the biggest among the top-10 field, finished with an 80-13 aggregate. Gustafson had 80-03 after catching 15-14 on the final day.

"The first one was special, but this one was better and it's the best there ever will be," a choked-up Hartman said in the immediate aftermath of his triumph. "To win in my home state in front of the home crowd is just unbelievable."

Chris Zaldain, who's been a runner-up twice this year, boxed 19-00 to finish 3rd with 79-00. David Mullins was 4th with 75-14 (17-11 on day 4) and Seth Feider 5th with 75-13 (17-02).

The remainder of the top 10 consisted of Brandon Lester with 75-09 (20-06), Cory Johnston with 71-07 (13-08), Stetson Blaylock with 71-00 (14-05), Drew Cook with 69-02 (13-15) and Cliff Prince with 65-04 (9-14).

Scott Canterbury, the 11th-place finisher in this event, remained atop the Angler of the Year standings with one regular-season tournament remaining (Sept. 19-22 at Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma). He has a 19-point lead over rookie Drew Cook and a 26-pound advantage over Zaldain.

Hartman caught a 6 1/2-pounder for the second straight day. On this occasion the giant was the first fish to go into his livewell.

The other four that he took to the scale averaged right around 4 pounds apiece. He added the last one with less than 20 minutes remaining in the day.

He employed a two-pronged approach throughout the event a 4 3/4-inch Riot Baits Synth Worm on a dropshot rig and an out-of-production crankbait. Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be published this week.

After weighing more than 49 pounds combined over the first two days, Gustafson managed just over 31 for the weekend.

"It was a different lake the last two days, but I didn't feel like there was anything else I could do," he said. "My only regret is I ran down today and checked on some smallmouth stuff and there was some life on that I caught three that I weighed in about an hour and a half. Then the last two hours I came back up north and never caught anything.

"I should've just stayed on the smallmouth stuff and pecked away I probably had a better shot at getting a 4-pounder doing that.



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

The big fish that had carried Jeff Gustafson to the lead at the midway point were nowhere to be found on day 4.

"As for my other stuff, something changed," he continued. "I did what I could the last two days to grind it out and it is what it is."

Zaldain weighed five smallmouth on day 4 as his best area transitioned from a largemouth hangout to a bronzeback mecca over the course of the tournament. Three of them topped the 4-pound mark, but he jumped of his biggest bite of the day.

He admitted that coming close to victory on so many occasions and not going home with a trophy is beginning to wear on him.

"I guess I need to read a book on how to seal the deal," he cracked.

Like Gustafson, Mullins had deep-dwelling fish disappear on him after day 2. His averages were 23 pounds per day for the first two days and 15 per day on the weekend.

"I had a 5 1/2-pounder today, but I just never caught anything bigger than some 3s to go along with it," he said. "I'm just disappointed that those deep fish never showed up after the second day."

Feider, who slid down two positions in the standings on the final day, spent the week flipping grass. He handled about 10 keepers on day 4, with a 4 1/2-pounder topping his bag.

"It was a good week everybody wants to win, but I'll take it," he said. "There was nothing I'd do different; I fished how I wanted to fish. It just wasn't the winning deal this week."

Notable

> Day 4 stats 10 anglers, 10 limits.

Day 4 (Final) Standings

1. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 20, 80-13 -- 100 $100,000
Day 1: 5, 16-14 -- Day 2: 5, 19-09 -- Day 3: 5, 22-02 -- Day 4: 5, 22-04

2. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, ON -- 20 -- 80-03 -- 99 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 23-11 -- Day 2: 5, 25-06 -- Day 3: 5, 15-04 -- Day 4: 5, 15-14

3. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 20, 79-00 -- 98 -- $20,000
Day 1: 5, 24-05 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11 -- Day 3: 5, 14-00 -- Day 4: 5, 19-00

4. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 20, 75-14 -- 97 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 22-01 -- Day 2: 5, 23-13 -- Day 3: 5, 12-05 -- Day 4: 5, 17-11

5. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 20, 75-13 -- 96 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 21-08 -- Day 2: 5, 21-05 -- Day 3: 5, 15-14 -- Day 4: 5, 17-02

6. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 20, 75-09 -- 95 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 17-00 -- Day 2: 5, 19-12 -- Day 3: 5, 18-07 -- Day 4: 5, 20-06

7. Cory Johnston -- Cavan , ON -- 20, 71-07 -- 94 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 16-10 -- Day 2: 5, 20-03 -- Day 3: 5, 21-02 -- Day 4: 5, 13-08

8. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 20, 71-00 -- 93 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 21-13 -- Day 2: 5, 19-07 -- Day 3: 5, 15-07 -- Day 4: 5, 14-05

9. Drew Cook -- Midway, FL -- 20, 69-02 -- 92 -- $15,500
Day 1: 5, 19-02 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10 -- Day 3: 5, 14-07 -- Day 4: 5, 13-15

10. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 20, 65-04 -- 91 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 18-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-11 -- Day 3: 5, 20-14 -- Day 4: 5, 09-14