Back-to-back victories in consecutive weeks – one on the FLW Tour and one on the Bassmaster Elite Series – have propelled Oklahoma's Jason Christie to the top of the BassFan World Rankings presented by Livingston Lures for the first time in his career.
Christie, who won the FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake and the Elite Series derby at Bull Shoals Lake, is up five places from 6th in this edition and supplants Todd Faircloth in the No. 1 slot. Brent Chapman, Brent Ehrler and Bryan Thrift, all of whom have held the top ranking at one time or another, round out the Top 5.
Terry Scroggins, the 6th-place finisher at Bull Shoals, climbs four places to 6th in this edition. David Dudley, who began 2012 ranked No. 1, slipped another spot to 10th.
The biggest move among the Top 50 was made by reigning Bassmaster Classic champion Cliff Pace, who gained 19 positions to 29th.
The next event that will effect the Rankings is the May 2-5 Elite Series tournament at Georgia's West Point Lake.
BULL SHOALS, Ark. — Two days ago on the Ramada Quest stage, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jason Christie bemoaned the crystal water and dead-calm conditions of Bull Shoals Lake.
“Clear water and no wind scares the heck out of me,” said the Elite Series rookie from Park Hill, Okla., on that second day of competition. He dropped from fourth place into 14th. It was a serious fall in what had become the “ounces-count” Quest.
If Christie was scared, he was scared straight. On the third day, he managed to climb up into 11th place and qualify for Monday’s fourth and final round. He was 5 pounds, 6 ounces behind the leader.
Monday at the weigh-in, he showed what having the fire under you can do. He turned in a huge bag, the tournament’s largest: 18 pounds, 0 ounces. Christie landed squarely in the winner’s seat, with his first Elite Series trophy. It came with $100,000 and his second consecutive Bassmaster Classic qualification.
“Awesome,” said Christie about his secure return to the Classic. “I was hooked on it last time, and I’m ready to go again.”
Christie’s winning weight was 56 pounds, 8 ounces. His Day Four bag of five largemouth of 18-0 included two 4-pounders and a 5-0, the largest bass of the day.
His margin of victory was 1 pound, 2 ounces over Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla. That was a notable achievement given that the Day Three leader, Casey Scanlon, led by 12 ounces, and the Day One and 2 leader, Greg Vinson, led by 1 pound and by 3 ounces, respectively.
Christie’s leapfrog from 11th into first place was the biggest Day Four comeback in Elite Series history. (Arkansas pro Kevin Short rose from sixth place to win the 2009 Mississippi River Elite event.)
Christie, 39, came into the Quest hot off an April 14 FLW Tour win on Beaver Lake. The Elite Series title of Monday chalked up rare consecutive wins in the sport’s best-known circuits, both on White River impoundments in Arkansas.
“I just want to ride this train till it wrecks,” said Christie of his winning streak.
By Todd Ceisner
For some anglers, 3 days of practice isn't enough. For others, it's way too much. Jason Christie understands the importance of getting a feel for how a lake is setting up prior to the start of competition, but like others, he has fallen prey to the what-works-in-practice-will-work-in-the-tournament mindset.
Maybe his Beaver Lake FLW Tour experience will change that.
After a so-so day 1 netted him just five keeper bites and saw him mired in 67th place, he scrapped his plan to target smallmouths and moved into areas in and around the White River, where the water had more color to it and he stood a better chance of colliding with some chunky, pre-spawn largemouths.
His "Just Go Fishing" mentality paid off as he caught more than 51 pounds over the final 3 days to earn his second career FLW Tour win and moved into the Top 10 in the latest Angler of the Year standings.
"Whenever I can figure it out during the tournament, that's when I do best," he said. "If I figure it out during practice, I might as well just stay in the truck because you get locked into certain areas. If you figure it out during the tournament, you can take off and run with it. It's just different. Practice is very important, but I think some people put too much emphasis on it and catching a lot of fish. Every lake's different."
While he caught fish on a variety of baits all week, from a spinnerbait to a jig and also a crankbait, the vast majority of his weigh-in fish were caught in less than 10 feet of water on an umbrella rig.
He's now finished in the Top 50 in the five Beaver Lake FLW Tour events he's fished since 2008.
Here's how he did it.
From past experience, Christie had a pretty good idea of how Beaver was going to set up last week, but he had no inkling that the lake would kick out the weight it did.
The weather was blustery and cold through practice and a warm front was due to move in for the weekend with shifting winds. Trying to prepare for all of those scenarios on a lake where the fish can be quite finicky was a difficult proposition.
Coming out of practice, he opted to target smallmouth in the clear-water areas.