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Martin comes up short

When day-three leader Art Ferguson left the door open with a paltry 7-pound, 11-ounce catch today, Dudley was not the only one who took advantage of it.

National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., also crossed Ferguson’s threshold with a 14-pound, 13-ounce catch today to take the runner-up position with a two-day total of 28 pounds, 7 ounces worth $50,000.

Martin began his week shallow, fishing a Spro Little John crankbait around seawalls where he could see shad activity.

But as the water dropped on day two, Martin’s shallow-water program began to wane and he became much more reliant on deep shell mounds on river ledges in Fort Loudoun.

He caught his deepwater fish on two deep-running crankbaits, including a DD-22 and a Brian’s Bees B-18, but he actually found the areas with a football head jig.

“In practice, I kept a heavy football head jig rigged up so I could feel the bottom,” he said. “If the bottom was soft and mushy, I’d move on. But whenever I felt that rubble shelly bottom, I marked it.”

Martin also believes the color and cadence of his deep crankbaits over the shells were key. The shell mounds were 8 to 10 feet and top and he would dredge the bait into the shells hard and fast.

“I normally use chartreuse-blue-back patterns for crankbaits on TVA lakes, but the shad-colored patterns seemed to work much better this week,” Martin said. “Also, I was really cranking the bait fast and making it real erratic, which is one reason I think I caught so many smallmouth on it.”

“I know this sounds crazy,” he added. “But I really believe those smallmouth were spawning on the shell bars in about 8 feet of water. It seemed like the closer the full moon got during practice, the more smallmouth I started catching off those bars."