ALBA, Texas — Nate Gloria of Omaha, Neb., employed a unique presentation and tallied 98 inches of bass to claim a narrow victory at the Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX at Lake Fork.
Topping a field of 196 competitors, Gloria edged Justin Largen of Roanoke, Va., by one-fourth of an inch.
Gloria, who competed in a Hobie Mirage Outback, caught bass measuring 22.5, 21.25, 19.5, 18 and 16.75 inches. He committed his day to Little Caney Creek, where he’d previously won the 2018 YAK4IT Tournament of Champions.
Alternating between two small coves, Gloria looked for a mix of new and older lily pads that had recently started turning green. In practice, he noticed the fresher habitat seemed to attract the bigger fish.
Gloria said he focused on fish that were moving up to spawn, but he employed a different strategy than other competitors.
“I was fishing beds, but I didn’t visually sight fish them; I knew they were at least fanning out their beds and clearing out predators in that area,” Gloria said. “During practice, I caught a 21-incher in that area.
“I figured everyone would be bed fishing, so I wanted to approach things a little bit differently. I would skim a little Texas-rigged craw across the water until I saw them wake after it and then I killed it. It was more of a finesse topwater presentation.”
Gloria used a green pumpkin craw with a chartreuse belly. He said rigging his bait with that brighter side facing downward was more enticing to the fish.
Four of Gloria’s top fish bit the craw, but his largest ate a black/blue 1/2-ounce Mr. B Lures bladed jig with a black/orange 3 1/2-inch swimbait.
“I caught that fish along a weed edge,” he said. “I believe that fish was probably clearing out predators around the nest. It was eating anything that came into the area.
“All of my bites were very aggressive. The ones that bit really wanted the bait out of their area.”
Largen, who posted a second-place total of 97.75 inches, fished from a 12-foot-9 Hobie Mirage Outback. His best two bass measured 21.25 and 21 inches, along with a trio of 18.5-inchers.
Also fishing Little Caney, Largen targeted bed fish in shallow water behind patches of alligator grass. With his bass tucked into little pockets beyond the dense vegetation, Largen had to work his way into position.
“I was pulling up the pedal drive and paddling into position because the drive would catch on the grass,” he said. “That grass broke up the wind and allowed me to see into the little cuts where they were bedding.”
Noting that each of his fish behaved differently, Largen said he used a variety of Texas-rigged baits. His top performers were a black 6-inch Zoom Lizard with a chartreuse tail, a black and blue Strike King Rage Bug, a green pumpkin Missile Baits Baby D-Bomb accented with blue Spike-It dye and a green pumpkin YUM Christie Craw.
Lance Burris of Lebanon, Mo., finished third with 97.25. Competing in a Bonafide SS127 kayak with a Torqeedo Ultralight 1103, he caught fish measuring 20.75, 20.5, 19.5, 19 and 17.5 inches.
Burris spent his day near the dam and fished a stump field in 2 1/2 feet of water. Working a 1/2-mile area, he targeted staging prespawn bass with a red 1/2-ounce Strike King Redeye Shad.
“The key was covering water fast and making nonstop casts,” Burris said. “I was reeling fast and burning the bait.”
The tournament was hosted by Lake Fork Marina.