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Luke Clausen had some of his best areas all to himself.

Numerous anglers who competed in last week's Forrest Wood Cup at Arkansas' Lake Ouachita commented that they've never seen a body of water that was home to so many bluegill. And when that species is in shallow water, it's a given that a lot of big, hungry bass will be there, too.

Luke Clausen and Andy Morgan, the 4th- and 5th-place finishers at the Cup, both fished topwater patterns that were at least partially based around the final stages of the lengthy bluegill spawn. Following are some of the specifics. 

4th: Luke Clausen

> Day 1: 5, 13-15 
> Day 2: 5, 11-12 
> Day 3: 5, 16-03 
> Day 4: 3, 6-12 
> Total = 18, 48-10

Like runner-up Randall Tharp, Clausen went to Ouachita with the idea of making things happen on the surface.

"I knew I wanted to fish shallow," he said. "It was summer and the water was clear and I was pretty sure topwater would be the deal. I'm actually more comfortable doing that than anything else – if I can see them, I'm always confident that I can figure out how to catch them."

He worked several locales from the mid-lake area on up and had some of them completely to himself (although because he rarely spent more than a few minutes at each stop, he didn't know whether they were being fished during his absence).

"There were a couple places where I'd see Morgan and (10th-place finisher Jason) Christie once a day, but the rest of the time I never saw too many people."

The majority of his areas were in subtle pockets off the main lake. They featured mostly flat banks with small drains.

"I spent a lot of practice time with the trolling motor on 100, just looking for (bass). They were on bluegill beds for the most part, but there were also some wolfpacks cruising around. There are bluegill beds at that place every 100 yards."

He caught everything on cloudy, (relatively) cool day 1 on a Brian's Prop Bee #2, but that bait wasn't as effective when the sun re-emerged. He threw primarily a Megabass Dog-X or an older-style Reaction Innovations Vixen the rest of the way.

He also caught four weigh-in fish on a wacky-rigged worm.

> Topwater gear: Unnamed 6'6" medium-heavy rod, unnamed casting reel, 17-pound Gamma monofilament line, Brian's Prop Bee #2 (bull bream), Megabass Dog-X (white) or Reaction Innovations Vixen (white/gray).

 Worm gear: Unnamed 6'9" medium-action rod, unnamed spinning reel, 10-pound Tuf-Line braided line with 6-foot Gamma monofilament leader (8-pound), unnamed lead-wrapped size 2 hook, wacky-rigged unnamed straight-tail worm (watermelon).

Clausen falls to fourth

Chevy pro Luke Clausen had the opportunity today to become the first pro to claim two Forrest Wood Cup titles. Ultimately, he finished fourth with a total weight of 48 pounds, 10 ounces, earning $55,000. Clausen caught only three bass Sunday, which weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces after a dead-fish penalty.

“I’m disappointed with the day I had, but I wouldn’t have done anything different,” he said. “The topwater bite was OK early, but went downhill quickly.”

Clausen fished bluegill beds on flat drains located in the midlake region. He had one particular 300-yard stretch of water he would revisit multiple times with the hopes of reconnecting with the wolfpacks.

When it was choppy, the 2004 Forrest Wood Cup champion would throw a Megabass Giant Dog-X. When it was raining and still, he’d opt for the Brian’s Bees Prop 2. He would also occasionally mix in a Reactions Innovations Vixen. 

“I still saw tons of 3- and 4-pounders out there today. I didn’t lose that many; they just wouldn’t bite.”
Luke Clausen (2nd place, 41-14):

The Chevy pro from Spokane, Wash. will put his faith in the bream bed again today. He’ll work topwater with walking and prop baits and hope to put them in front of the right fish. Long casts, he said, play a big role in this game.

“I don’t have any concern with the number of fish that are around; I’m seeing plenty of fish throughout the day,” Clausen said. “There are a lot of 3-, 4-, 5-pounders swimming down the bank. It’s just getting

“It’s all about tricking them into biting. You have to cast so the bait lands right on top of them. It will be the first two or three twitches that make them race up and attack the bait. If they have time to (examine it), you’re not going to catch them. You have to cast so far, it’s hard to know where to cast. You just hope you make the right cast seven or eight times today and hope you catch five of those big ones.”