STURGEON BAY, Wis. – The 10 anglers in the July 15 championship round of the Covercraft Stage Five Presented by Abu Garcia were a great mix.
The group included a newly crowned points champion, three Bass Pro Tour stage winners and four past Bassmaster Classic champions.
It was a solid mix of both seasoned veterans and first-time championship round anglers. Whoever ended up winning would have to earn it, as this field was stacked from top to bottom.
For most of the day, it was a three-horse race between Guntersville pro Justin Lucas, Mark Daniels Jr. and Josh Bertrand. They traded blows to hop each other in the standings for much of the day.
Alton Jones also made a run, but for the most part, it appeared it would be one of the three anglers with West Coast roots bringing home the win.
Lucas had cruised all week long, setting weight records in group A’s qualifying round and earning an automatic championship round for winning his group.
July 15, he led after both periods 1 and 2. The only thing that could stop him was a weather delay. After rain and lightning forced a stoppage, Lucas went cold and didn’t score a keeper for nearly an hour.
That made things interesting, but Lucas caught fire when it counted late in the day and was able to pull off the win with 38 bass for 110 pounds, 5 ounces.
“It took me a while to get used to fishing a tournament in this format. It’s so freaking cool to win one of these,” he said.
All week long, he relied on a drop-shot rig with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm in a variety of colors. On the final day, he had seven identical 7-foot medium Abu Garcia Fantasista rods rigged up for the technique.
“Today, I caught them all on black but used a bunch of different colors this week,” Lucas said.
He utilized a variety of Abu Garcia reels, all spooled with 8-pound Berkley X5 braid in the Crystal color with a leader of 8-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon. He rounded out the package with a size 2 drop-shot hook and a 3/8-ounce weight.
Lucas targeted postspawn fish on isolated pieces of grass all week long in Sturgeon Bay.
“The area was the first deeper water outside of the biggest spawning flat I could find,” he said. “I was targeting isolated patches of grass, and I can’t believe nobody else was fishing there.”
Lucas shared the key depth range was between 14 and 20 feet of water on the final day.
Championship round notables
• The biggest bass of the day was Cliff Pace with his 5-3 smallmouth.
• Lucas landed the most bass with 38 for the day.
• Lucas also caught the most weight with 110-5.
Championship round standings
1. Justin Lucas, 110-05
2. Mark Daniels Jr., 102-07
3. Josh Bertrand, 86-14
4. Jordan Lee, 79-07
5. Alton Jones, 78-05
6. Andy Morgan, 63-10
7. Mike Iaconelli, 63-02
8. Cliff Pace, 54-05
9. Bradley Roy, 30-07
10. Ish Monroe, 28-04
A native of California, the 33-year-old Lucas collected five wins in seven years on FLW fishing as both a co-angler and pro.
He has tallied seven wins, 40 top 10s and almost $2 million in career winnings.