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Hays makes top 10 finish in WBFL tourney

By By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
March 12, 2004
Ranger Boats and Evinrude motors pro staff member Jimmy Hays of Meridian, caught four bass weighing 10 pounds 2 ounces for a fourth place finish recently at the WBFL bass tournament held at Pickwick Lake. The talented angler faced brutal fishing conditions as cold weather pushed the water temperature back to 46 degrees during tournament hours. Although this was the biggest WBFL tournament ever held in Mississippi with a total of 164 boats, there were a total of 83 Zeros on the pro side.
Hays targeted bass located in secluded shallow coves most of the day. With water levels falling drastically during the day, Hays' choice of fishing areas played a key part in his high finish. Although many fishermen depend on the current to catch fish at Pickwick, that pattern died when the water dropped three feet overnight, as the current was literally cut off.
Hays went against the grain by casting small crankbaits about 6 feet deep. Most of his bites came as the crankbaits "ticked" off of rocks or submerged structure. The key was to fish the bait just fast enough to bounce off the bottom, thus triggering reaction strikes. If he fished too fast he couldn't draw a strike. Going in he knew that it would be hard to get a limit and he fished for 5 or 6 bites. As it turned out he came up one keeper short of possibly winning the tournament.
Hays found his key fishing area during pre tournament practice on the Wednesday before the tournament, which happened to be the nastiest day of the week. He encountered wind, rain, and cold temperatures all day. " I figured that if I could find them and catch some on the worst day of the week, I could catch them anytime," exclaimed Hays.
Hays caught his crankbait fish on a medium, light action All Star rod. The rod was just light enough to allow the bass to engulf the bait deep enough for a solid hook set. Late in the day Hays knew that he needed to catch a big bass and he made a 12-mile run to another key area looking for a big bite. Once he arrived at the spot there were other boats in the area. Undeterred he made his way to a submerged top located in the mouth of the creek. Upon arrival at the top, it took him six pitches to entice a lunker to strike. The 41⁄2 pound kicker came just in the nick of time. He put the bass in the live well and headed for the weigh in, confident that he had made the right decisions. Johnny Clark took the top prize with a string of bass that weighed in at 13 pounds eight ounces. Ricky Smith finished in 46th place and Ken Murphy came in at 51st.
On the co-angler side local anglers Michael Miller and David Wheat came in 17 and 21 respectively.

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