Smith Lake BASS Open Champion – Jody White

The Bassmaster Southern Open series recently made its second stop of the year at Smith Lake, AL from March 31 – April 2. Jody White, who happens to be a friend of ours, took home the Co-Angler trophy. We caught up with him to find out how he succeeded in this tournament – check it out below!

FTB: Tell us a little about the tournament conditions at Smith Lake and what stage the fish were in?

JW: The first day of the tournament was actually cancelled due to projected thunderstorms and bad weather conditions. After that, the backs of pockets and creeks got a little muddied up due to the rain, but the main lake stayed clear. From what I saw in this event, most of the Largemouth bass were postspawn, but some were still spawning. The Spotted bass, on the other hand, were mostly spawning or still prespawn. Because I noticed this in practice, I felt that fat spots would be key to doing well in this tournament.

FTB: What techniques were your Pro’s using in order to catch fish?
JW: From topwaters to wacky rigs to shaky heads, my Pro’s for the two days fished a multitude of ways. The majority of the time, they were fishing main lake banks, points, and bluffs at a pretty slow rate. They also spent some time in pockets throwing a chatterbait or flipping shallow cover.
FTB: What did you do behind them in order to get bit?
JW: I used a couple different techniques in order to catch my fish. The first and most important for this tournament was a wacky-rigged Strike King Ocho with a nail weight. I would cast it out, let it sink to the bottom, and shake it for 5-10 seconds before reeling it to a new spot and repeating. I tried to target different water columns and areas than my Pros. For example, if my Pro was focusing on mid-depth water, I would work my Ocho up shallow and then work it out deep to fish for different bass. I also watched closely for any kind of visible stair-stepping rocky drops, as the Spotted bass seemed to hold well on them. Other than the wacky rig, I also caught some fish on a vibrating jig in the backs of pockets as well as a 2.8″ Keitech swimbait on a light jighead worked in the same areas as the wacky rig.
FTB: What prepared you for winning this event?
Jody (right) pictured with Brad Knight

Jody (right) pictured with Brad Knight

JW: Practicing with Brad Knight was key for this event. Through practice, I gained confidence in throwing the wacky rig and I got a little more familiar with the lake. Another thing that helped was the fact that  I worked the FLW Tour event last year at this lake which added to my familiarity with the way it fished. On top of that, Smith Lake fits my comfort zone completely – it is a clear, rocky lake with great opportunity for finesse fishing.

FTB: What tips do you have for Co-Anglers fishing around the spawn?
JW: Pay attention and look for the overlooked areas. For example, if you are in the back of a pocket, you might expect the bass to be up shallow towards the back. Casting a little deeper and working the sides can be a good way to pick up fish your Pro never had a chance at. You need to understand that there are more fish in the area, possibly even on beds so have confidence.
FTB: Congratulations Jody! Any more tournaments in the schedule?
JW: My next tournament that I get to fish in will be the Bassmaster Southern Open #3 at Douglas Lake in Tennessee from May 19-21. I am not familiar with this lake so I look forward to getting a crack at it!
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Jody White currently works as an Associate Editor at FLW. You can see some of his work here – http://www.flwfishing.com/tips/jody-white