The 2011 Bassmaster Classic revisted: One competitor’s story

Matt Herren bucked the trend, and stayed in the hunt.

By now everyone has heard what went down on the bayous around New Orleans, and that Kevin Van Dam tried his best to exploit the waters, showing everyone what we have to protect in the future. Record setting indeed!!!! To catch that many large fish out of the Tank Pond is impressive, but also to do it with several others around was eye opening, to say the least.

But those types of stories have been heard, so I want to talk about the guy that was first out of the cut line at 26th when the scaled settled on day 2, Matt Herren. Here is a guy who fished close to the launch, or I guess I should say he didn’t run to Delacroix, Venice or Bayou Black, but wasn’t in the crowded Tank Pond, either.

Here is a rundown of how his time went. Take note that he fished the area that is well known like Des Allemandes, and actually developed a pattern that kept him in the hunt for the first two days of the Classic.

As you read, you will also see that he didn’t do anything fancy or off the wall like throw a dropshot rig, Matt just flat out caught them like anyone from this region can. Only difference was his mental approach and the fact that he knew the male bass were on the banks with the warming waters while the females were pulled out in a little deeper water.

So here is an inside look at what was laid on the front deck of Matt’s boat when the Classic started, from rods to baits and how they were fished:

The fishing rods
Colmic Matt Herren Signature Series rods in various lengths, and he made the most out of this new Italian-made rods. The rods were used for various reasons, such as flipping tight quarters to slinging spinner baits. Being that they were a signature set of rods, they are made to the way Matt would want them, and from the looks of it he knows a lot about them.

The baits
Matt relied on three baits during the Classic, and it made for a simple two days of fishing on the Delta.

The first one is a work in progress, but after looking at the prototype it looks like it is just a matter of time before Reaction Innovation puts it on the market and anglers actually have them in their hands. The bait was a Sweet Beaver that Reaction has tweaked somewhat to make it better. For those that have fished one already, pay attention to detail because I think it is going to be a real eye opener once it hits the shelves at the local stores.

The next two baits are made by Santone Lures, and include a jig and a spinner bait.

The jig was simply a 3/8-ounce black/ brown/amber-colored jig he pitched and flipped to isolated patches of grass, as well as to any piece of wood he would come up to. The jig bite was interesting, and from the looks of it a lot of the anglers competing didn’t rely on it as much as Matt relied on the Santone jig. If you get a chance to look at a Santone jig and you’re from South Louisiana, you should see the reason the jig works around all of our different structures from grass to trees.

The spinnerbait was a Santone model called a Got Five in a blue heron colored skirt. Matt fished this bait when he needed to cover water between structures that he was pitching to. The neat thing about this version of a spinnerbait is the fact that it has a smaller, compact look that everyone knows works in the Delta, but you are still able to slow roll when needed.

The strategy
As mentioned earlier, the key Matt had figured out was that the smaller male bass were up in the shallow waters with the warming temperatures in the dead end canals he was fishing. With his knowledge and experience, he was able to just target the larger females that were not quite ready to commit to laying eggs in the shallows. Once he had this pinpointed, Matt stayed off the bank and made a majority of his cast to more productive waters instead of up against the bank.

On a side note, Matt did experience a hiccup in his second day on the water that hampered his day. You can find a video interview that Matt was gracious and candid enough to do with Andy Crawford backstage after it happened. So be sure to check it out.