Hall and Connell Win ABT Southern Division Opener

February 16, 2015
ABT Tournament Series News

Wetumpka, Ala. – February 16, 2015 – Fishing in early February can be an extremely tough proposition.  When the schedule for the 2015 Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series was announced, it appeared to many competitors that the Southern Division opener at Lake Jordan would be that kind of event.

With cold temperatures and low precipitation levels recently creating less than ideal conditions for wide open fishing, it appeared that Lake Jordan might be a low weight tournament.  But, that was not to be the case.

While the conditions were less than ideal, Blake Hall and Dustin Connell managed to produce an impressive 22.13 pounds to win the first event of the 2015 Alabama Bass Trail season.  This was not a runaway win by any means, however.  Chris Jackson and Luke Murphree, a fill-in for normal partner Hal Hendrix, also managed to produce a heavy 21.79-pound limit of Lake Jordan spotted bass to finish second.  Third place would be a tie with Nicholas Turner and Joe Lay and Brent Post and Austin Post both producing 20.22 pounds apiece.

Hall and Connell reported that they spent the majority of their day fishing one small stretch of water that had the kind of bottom composition they desired to find the bigger fish.  “We found this stretch that had a harder bottom in practice, and it seemed to be holding a better quality fish,” said the winning pair.  “We spent the whole day fishing that one area, and we had to fish it very slowly and carefully in order to make the fish bite.”

Just because they fished slowly does not mean they finessed their strikes.  The pair reported using jerkbaits most of the day, methodically working the lure to entice strikes.  They said they often paused the lure for 10 seconds in between twitches.  “The water we were fishing was 12 to 18 feet deep, and the fish were suspended,” they said.  “We used a Chartreuse Shad Lucky Craft Pointer 100 to make those fish strike.”  They reported catching 10 to 12 keepers, including the Diet Mountain Dew Big Bass of the event; a 5.44-pound spotted bass.

All told, Hall and Connell earned $10,500 for their performance; including the Diet Mountain Dew Big Bass bonus.

Jackson and Murphree reported catching many more bass, and while their 5.43-pound spotted bass almost unseated Hall and Connell’s big fish, they fell just short of the win.  The pair reported catching the bulk of their fish on a finesse reaction bait.  The lure; a Spinbait 80 by Duo Realis, allowed them to slowly cover water and catch 20 to 25 keepers.  “We fished submerged humps with a steep drop on one side of the structure” they said.  “When we found fish on those places, we were able to make them bite.”  They weighed four of their keepers that were caught on the Spybaiting technique, and their fifth keeper on a dropshot rig with a Nemesis Baits Bullet Craw.

Jackson and Murphree earned $5000 for their second place finish, and the third place teams of Turner and Lay and Post and Post received $3500 each for their efforts for the day.

The next event for the Alabama Bass Trail is the Northern Division opener Saturday February 28 at Lake Guntersville.  Next up for the Southern Division is March 14 at Lake Eufala in Eufala, Ala.

The top 10 in the standings were as follows below.  For complete standings visit the results page at

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The sponsors of the 2015 Alabama Bass Trail include: Bill Penney Toyota, the Alabama Tourism Department, Phoenix Bass Boats, Inc., Garmin, Academy Sports & Outdoors, T-H Marine Supplies, Inc., Alabama Power Company, Buffalo Rock, Inc., Jet-Pep, Inc., Tennessee Valley Authority, and Frogg Toggs, Inc., HydroWaveTM, Alabama Foundation Specialist, Boat U.S., LEER, Vicious Fishing, E3 Sports, Inc., Costa Del Mar, Frogg Toggs, Inc., Power-Pole,  Window World and Yeti Coolers.