This past weekend, BassFans were treated to a doozie of an event. Anglers who whacked 'em one day tanked the next, and some came from deep within the field to make the Top 12 cut and threaten for the win.

A number of factors contributed to the up-down weights at the Smith Mt. Bassmaster Elite Series in Virginia. One was the fact

that it was pretty much a new venue for the Elite Series field. Few had ever fished the lake before, and with only 2 1/2 days of practice, many of the patterns developed as the event wore on.

Fish phase was another contributor. Although the majority of fish were in the post-spawn, there were bed-fish available, and a few noted they caught pre-spawners too.

And don't forget about boat traffic. Smith Mt. turned into a zoo late Friday, and the frantic water traffic lasted through the weekend. It didn't necessarily turn the fish off, but they repositioned under the intense traffic.

Another weekend woe was lack of current. The deep bite largely fizzled without current.

Winner Casey Ashley pulled it out with two patterns – docks and points. The details of his winning pattern will be posted tomorrow. Here's how the rest of the Top 5 caught their fish.

2nd: Terry Scroggins

> Day 1: 5, 12-08
> Day 2: 5, 11-13
> Day 3: 5, 15-09
> Day 4: 5, 15-05
> Total = 20, 55-03

Florida's Terry Scroggins was one of the many anglers who continued to climb throughout the event. He went from 25th to 24th to 6th to 2nd. He finished 2 pounds in back of Ashley, and said he lost two fish in the final hour that likely would have won it.

He initially had two things going – a morning topwater bite amidst the shad-spawn, then a dropshot bite on points and docks. The final day, he ditched the dropshot, went to all new water and caught all his weigh-fish on a shakey-head. His shakey-fish came off "long-running points in 16 to 18 feet of water."

He noted his topwater spots were points along the main lake. "I had two different things going with topwater," he added. "The second day, I caught them off rocky points. The third day, I caught them off blowdown trees. It was kind of weird, but that's how it happened."

He didn't catch any topwater fish the final day.

About his docks, he said: "I pretty much covered the whole lake. It didn't matter if it was the main lake or the creeks, because the creeks are so deep. I was targeting the floating parts of docks, and the outside-corner pilings. It seemed like that's where all the fish were sitting."

Most of the fish were in 7 t 10 feet of water on the front of the docks. Also, in order to accurately cast the dropshot around docks, he used the slingshot method, where he held the weight in one hand, bent the rod, then let it fly.

> Topwater gear: 6'6" medium-action Castaway rod, Team Daiwa casting reel, 14-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, XCalibur Zell Pop (Tennessee shad).

> Dropshot gear: 6'6" medium-action Castaway rod, Shimano Stella 4000 spinning reel, 6-pound Gamma Edge, 1/0 Gamakatsu Drop Shot hook, 3/16-ounce Xcalibur tungsten Drop Shot weight, Yum Houdini Worm (green-pumpkin and redbug) and other unnamed plastic.

> Shakey gear: Same rod, reel and line as dropshot, 3/16-ounce V&M jighead, 6" Yum Houdini worm (green-pumpkin and redbug).

> Main factor in his success – "I think it was just the ability to fish new water. I didn't get hung up on where I'd caught them the day before. Every day of this tournament I caught some somewhere new. A lot of the guys would go back the next day, but you couldn't make that happen. So I just ran a pattern instead of fishing the area where I caught them the day before."

> Performance edge – "It's a tossup between the Zell Pop and the Houdini worm. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably go with the Houdini worm on the shakey-head."

ESPN Outdoors
Photo: ESPN Outdoors

This was Takahiro Omori's first go-round with 7-pound line, and he thinks it was a critical tackle choice.

3rd: Takahiro Omori

> Day 1: 5, 12-08
> Day 2: 5, 11-13
> Day 3: 5, 15-09
> Day 4: 5, 15-05
> Total = 20, 55-03

Takahiro Omori was also a climber and went from 31st to 18th to 5th to 3rd. It marked his first Top 12 of the season, and it moved him from 49th to 33rd in the Elite Series points, which means he's back inside the Bassmaster Classic qualification window.

And just like Scroggins, he continuously searched out new water.

Notable about Omori was that he relied primarily on finesse, which was a significant departure for the noted power-fisherman.

"I had three patterns," he said. "In the morning, I started with topwater, and then I went sight-fishing on the beds, then between the beds I was throwing just a shakey-head finesse worm."

He added that he spent most of his time in "the mouths of major creeks," and that his topwater fish were post-spawners that were "more toward the main-lake points."

> Topwater gear: 7' medium-heavy Team Daiwa rod, Team Daiwa U.S. Trail casting reel (available in Japan only), 20-pound Sunline mono, unnamed popper (shad).

> Bed-fishing gear: 7'6" heavy action Team Daiwa TD-S rod, same reel, 20-pound Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon, 4/0 Gamakatsu G-Lock hook, 5" Yamamoto Senko (green-pumpkin).

> Shakey gear: 6'8" medium-heavy Team Daiwa rod, Team Daiwa spinning reel, 7-pound FC Sniper, 1/8-ounce unnamed jighead, Zoom Finesse worm (GP).

> Main factor in his success –"Adjustments day by day. I (went) to a new area every day. I heard this place was not good, but I was mentally positive through every day. That was a very important thing."

> Performance edge – "It was the 7-pound Sniper (fluorocarbon). It was the first time in my life that I used (7-pound). I borrowed it from Morizo (Shimizu), and he finished 5th. I borrowed it from him because I just (felt) like I wanted to try it. For me, 6(-pound) seems too weak, but 7-pound seems like the best for that kind of fishing. That was the deal for me."

ESPN Outdoors
Photo: ESPN Outdoors

Skeet Reese's techniques included a frog, a dropshot, a jerkbait, a jig, and he caught some bed-fish too.

4th: Skeet Reese

> Day 1: 5, 13-01
> Day 2: 5, 17-09
> Day 3: 5, 10-15
> Day 4: 5, 11-10
> Total = 20, 53-03

Skeet Reese leads the Elite Series points, and was the highest-ranked angler in the BassFan World Rankings presented by Tru-Tungsten to make the Top 12 cut.

He didn't have one particular pattern. Instead, he ran around, hit different stuff, and changed every day.

"I was a mess all week," he said. "The first day, I caught three bed-fish and two frog-fish. The second day I caught two bed-fish, a frog-fish, a jig-fish, and a swimbait-fish.

"On day 3 I caught two jerkbait fish, one bed-fish, and a few dropshot-fish, and (on day 4) I caught pretty much all dropshot-fish."

He noted the bed-fish "disappeared real quick," but new ones moved in throughout the event – "not a lot of them" though.

Also, he migrated from the backs of pockets on day 1 to fishing only main-lake points by the final day. "I was following the fish and just kind of transitioned my way (out of the pockets)."

One big key, he said, was his Lowrance 113 with mapping. Later in the event, he was able to run the lake and judge which points he wanted to fish from the mapping, instead of stopping to fish.

He added: "Once I got to a point (I wanted to try), I was able to graph around. If it was a totally smooth, clean point, I wouldn't fish it. It had to have at least chunk rock or stumps on it."

> Dropshot gear: 7'4" medium-action (fast tip) Lamiglas SR 743 signature series dropshot rod, Abu Garcia Cardinal 804 spinning reel, 8-pound Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon, 1/0 Roboworm ReBarb hook, 3/16-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight, 6" Berkley Hand Pour Finesse worm (red crawler).

> His jerkbait was a Lucky Craft Slender Pointer 97, and his frog was a Snag Proof.

> Main factor in his success – "I guess that I just fished open-minded all week long and just kept trying to adapt and change. A few guys were on a solid pattern, but for me, my fish changed every day. I never had anything solid, so I kept adjusting and changing."

> Performance edge – "I think it was the dropshot rig with the Hand Pour worm. That was the deal that closed it for me to have a solid finish."

ESPN Outdoors
Photo: ESPN Outdoors

Morizo Shimizu reversed his order on day 4 and went looking for big fish first.

5th: Morizo Shimizu

> Day 1: 5, 15-03
> Day 2: 5, 11-04
> Day 3: 5, 12-01
> Day 4: 5, 14-04
> Total = 20, 52-12

Shimizu's deal was similar to Ashley's – he worked docks and main-lake points.

His two baits were a shakey-head and a jig.

He noted that the first 3 days, he fished for a limit first, then went to look for bigger fish, but on day 4, he started on big fish. He added that he felt he'd have been okay with a day-4 zero – all he wanted to do was win the tournament.

> He fished a Gamakatsu jighead with a Zoom Trick worm (green-pumpkin/red) on 7-pound Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon. His jig was 3/4-ounce football jig with a Bait Breath Bysclaw trailer.