John's Journal...

The Game Plan with Denny Brauer for His Lake Champlain Win in Mid-July

Brauer Reveals a New Tournament-Winning Strategy

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Last week, Denny Brauer told us how he planned to fish the 2006 CITGO Bass Elite Series’ tournament on Lake Champlain. We talked with Brauer after the first day of practice, and much like a pool shooter who calls a shot, Brauer accurately predicted how he would fish, where he would find the fish, and how he would catch them to win this $100,000 tournament. Four days after we talked to Brauer, he executed the plan he’d laid out for us. Not only did he win the $100,000 first prize, he also passed the $2 million mark in tournament winnings, which moved him into first place as the No. 1 bass angler to win the most money on the Bassmaster circuit. This week, Brauer will take us day-by-day through the tournament and show us how he executed the plan he’d laid out for the tournament won one of the biggest events of his life. We’ll not only see the strategy of a champion, but we’ll also witness the mindset of a winner.

Question: How did you fish on day three, Denny?Click to enlarge
Brauer: Once I learned what effect the wind was having on the bass, I felt like I knew where and how to fish to catch bass. When I got to my spot where I’d been fishing before, I found that the wind was coming from the same direction it was when I caught the bass in the reeds. I had a camera boat following me that wanted to shoot some footage of me catching bass for a TV show. After 15 minutes of fishing, the camera boat pulled out. They had all the footage they needed, and I’d caught a limit of bass that weighed 17 or 18 pounds. Once again, I pulled out of there after fishing it for only 15 minutes and decided to go to my secondary spots to catch bigger fish.

Question: Did you have any tournament boats around you while fishing this area?
Brauer: Yes, I did. There were several other competitors fishing some of the same regions I was fishing. Tommy Biffle of Oklahoma, fished part of the area I was fishing. Terry Butcher, also of Oklahoma, who finished high in the tournament, was also fishing in my spot. As a matter of fact, he was fishing the exact same reed patch I was fishing. However, he had a different starting spot than me. He would come in later in the morning or in the middle of the day and fish the same reed patch I was fishing. The real secret to catching the fish was knowing when to fish for the bass in that patch and how to make the bass bite.

Question: How were you catching bass in that reed patch when the other guys weren’t catching bass?
Brauer: I learned that early in the morning, you could pick the bass off from the little reed points. The bass were holding within 10 feet of the edge of the reeds. Once the sun came up, the fishing pressure intensified, or, the bait moved back into the reeds. Then the only way to catch bass was to get a bait deep in the reeds Click to enlarge and dead-stick it, which is allowing the bait to fall to the bottom and letting it sit still for 5 to 10 seconds before moving it. I pitched that heavy 3/4-ounce jig as far back in the reeds as I could. When it punched through the reeds, I let it sit absolutely still for 5 to 10 seconds before I moved it. To fish with that much patience, you need plenty of confidence in this dead-sticking technique. Most people, when they’re fishing jigs, pitch them into thick cover. Once the jigs hit the bottom, they hop them off the bottom and pull them out of the spot. That’s how I normally fish the bait. However, on the third day, I got into an area and tried dead-sticking a jig. I caught a 4- and a 5-pound bass using this technique. I hadn’t tried this tactic the entire tournament. When I caught those two big bass back to back, I decided that dead-sticking the Strike King jig was the best way to catch those big bass in that thick cover.

Question: What let you know that dead-sticking would work?
Brauer: From past experience. Over the years, I’ve tried to fish lures a variety ways to learn how a lure can catch a bass. I’ve learned that dead-sticking is one technique I can use when bass fishing starts to get tough. When you’re fishing a four-day tournament, subtle variations in bait presentation can make the difference in catching or not catching bass, especially when you’re fishing for bigger fish that are smarter than the younger fish.

Question: When the jig’s lying still on the bottom, how do you know when the bass takes the bait?Click to enlarge
Brauer: I keep a fairly-tight line when the bait’s lying still on the bottom. I can feel a tick on the line when the bass sucks the jig off the bottom. By using the braided line, I feel that it’s more sensitive than the monofilament, which allows me to feel that subtle strike much better. When I feel the tick on the line, I start to lift my rod tip. I can feel the pressure of the bass on the line, and that’s when I set the hook.

Question: Denny, this is a relatively-new technique that anglers aren’t aware of, and very few people have tried dead-sticking a jig and letting it sit on the bottom that long. Most anglers are familiar with dead-sticking a worm or a jerkbait, but not a jig. Do you think this is a tactic that more anglers should utilize?
Brauer: Absolutely. When fishing conditions are tough, or, you’re fishing on a lake that has a lot of fishing pressure, I’ve learned that dead-sticking a jig can be the difference in catching bass or not catching bass. It was for me in this tournament.

Question: Denny, what place were you in going toward the final day of the tournament?
Brauer: I was in second place after the second day. I was still in second place after the third day. I’d closed the margin of difference between me and the first-place contestant to 1 pound, 4 ounces.

Tomorrow: Going for the Win

Check back each day this week for more about "The Game Plan with Denny Brauer for His Lake Champlain Win in Mid-July"

Day 1: The Game Plan for the Tournament and Brauer’s Quest to Fight Back
Day 2: Honey Hole on the First Day
Day 3: How Brauer Fished the Second Day of the Tournament
Day 4: Brauer Reveals a New Tournament-Winning Strategy
Day 5: Going for the Win


Entry 363, Day 4