By Jody White
EUFAULA, Okla. – Weighing the biggest bag of the tournament on Championship Sunday – 22 pounds, 9 ounces – Kelly Jordon vaulted from fourth to the win in Epic Baits Stop 3 Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches on Lake Eufaula. With Ron Nelson faltering on the final day, the door was open, and Jordon blasted through it.
Even partway through the day with an incomplete limit, Jordon was in contention thanks to the quality of his fish. When he made two last-minute culls despite dead trolling motor batteries, the veteran pro slammed the door. Totaling 57-3 on the event, Jordon earned $83,500 and locked up qualification for next year’s REDCREST.
A founding angler on the Bass Pro Tour, this was Jordon’s first foray into the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, and it turned out to be a great move. The veteran pro has struggled on the BPT, and was overshadowed a bit in the Top 50, with young guns and rising stars all around him in the standings. But, while the fishing got harder for most on Day 3, the wily Texan saved the best for last.
Setting up for success
Having fished a tournament or two at Eufaula before, Jordon came into the event a fan of the lake, but admitted that he had an idea how he wanted to fish it. It turned out that he was pretty much right on from the get-go.
TOP 10 BELOW
“I had high hopes,” Jordon said. “But, I was going to leave my house at 4:30 in the morning and drive up here, and instead I took my son to the emergency room at 4:30. He was sick, but we thought he might have appendicitis. Ended up, I got on the road at 9:30, got here, stopped at Braum’s for a cheeseburger, and got a half-day of practice. I actually found the spot I caught (my last two kickers) at on that day.”
Jordon did a lot of internet work pre-tournament, which paid off with his winning spot at the bottom end of the lake and most of his good places elsewhere.
“I found a lot of stuff (on the web),” Jordon said. “I could run all over this lake and catch fish, I like to fish how this lake is fishing right now.”
As for his juice, Jordon keyed on a couple of subtle areas in 3 to 6 feet of water; places that quality fish could stage slightly off the beaten track.
“It’s a secondary point that has rock on it, that’s outside of sand,” he said of his best spot. “You wouldn’t know there’s a rock point, I looked for it, a lot of Google Earth – I found several deals like that.”
As for catching the fish, Jordon kept it pretty simple. A Lucky Craft Fat CB BDS 2 did damage, as well as a ½-ounce vibrating jig with a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad. Plus, on the final day, he caught one on a shaky head with a plum worm.
Earning the win
Jordon didn’t go into the final day in the lead, but he wasn’t out of contention. With the caliber of fish biting, he knew that comebacks were definitely possible.
“I had a pretty good practice, I had a lot of stuff everywhere,” Jordon said. “The first day, I used it to see what I had. I ran all my stuff, I like to do that, I like to mark my trees.
“I thought I could catch them pretty good in Longtown Creek, and I ended up catching a 7-pound limit. I ran some other stuff; finally caught a 3-pounder, and tried to expand. But, my end goal was to fish my special stuff, and I waited until other people left, and caught five fish there, and they culled all my other fish.”
As soon as he caught five for 16-11 off his juice, Jordon got the heck out of Dodge so others wouldn’t see him on it.
“(Leaving early) was not real smart, going into today, I had a 6-pound deficit,” he said. “I made a really bad mental mistake.”
It ended up not costing him, and he rode his pattern to victory.
“Yesterday, I didn’t start there again, and I got down there eventually and waited until people left,” Jordon said “Then, I caught 17 pounds, 15 ounces, and the wind turned, it got bad, and they quit. Today, I just started there, I knew there were big fish there, that I could catch 20 pounds. The wind was rippin’, there were giant waves rolling in. I’m almost surprised I caught what I did. I only caught five down there, and I only caught three on my juice.”
Though he may have had the event sealed before the final fish, Jordon made a last-minute stop on two more little rock patches to put the exclamation mark on the day.
“My trolling motor was about dead, I got to the upwind side so I could drift down it,” Jordon recounted. “I get to the first point, I throw out there, and it loads up. Then, I go around to the next one, I pick my trolling motor up, I make a last cast, and it loaded up. I said, ‘No. Way.’ Caught it, didn’t even have the trolling motor down – 4 pounds, 13 ounces, and it got me to 22 pounds. You do all you can, and you get stuff like that. I thank the good Lord for that.
“I had an opportunity to get in this tournament, I figured it would be fabulous fishing, and dadgum it was. Today was so good, it just rolled my way all day, to win this event, I don’t even know what to say, it was just a blessed day.”
Top 10 pros
1. Kelly Jordon – 57 – 3 (15) – $83,500
2. Drew Gill – 54 – 5 (15) – $50,000
3. Ron Nelson – 52 – 4 (15) – $20,000
4. Scotty Villines – 50 – 5 (15) – $18,200
5. Cody Spetz – 49 – 3 (15) $17,000
6. Braxton Setzer – 48 – 6 (15) – $16,300
7. Tai Au – 47 – 0 (15) – $15,000
8. Jeff Reynolds – 45 – 10 (15) – $14,000
9. Shonn Goodwin – 45 – 6 (15) – $13,000
10. Michael Neal – 44 – 0 (15) – $12,000
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