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Sands Takes Top-Five Finish at BASS Open on Ross Barnett

Cole Sands with the Witch Doctor Tackle Rods he used to place 4th in the BASS Open.
Cole Sands continues his trek across the United States fishing all nine of the Bassmaster Open events in 2022.
Next up was the 4th Bassmaster Open event and stop number one of the Central Division, which took place on the infamous Ross Barnett Reservoir.
“Going into this event I really didn’t know what to expect. I started the year off strong with a top-10 finish at Lake Kissimmee but had two mediocre finishes in the second and third events of the season. I knew if I was going to have a shot at keeping my hopes of an Elite series birth alive this year, I would have to have a good finish at this event.”
Cole’s game plan going into this event was to keep a completely open mind and to just figure it out as I went. “Having preconceived notions was the biggest downfall in my less-than-ideal finishes so far this year.”
Cole gave himself plenty of practice time to break down the lake and come up with a solid game plan. After four days of practice, he felt that his best chance of success was to fish an area with fish in all stages of the spawn. “I knew that the half-mile stretch of the lake would be crowded with competitors due to the rich bass habitat of shell beds, reeds, pads, and three different types of grass, but I knew if I could block out the distractions I could walk away with a great event.”
The three Witch Doctor Tackle rod setups Cole used were:
  1. 1/2 ounce Carolina Rig with a small creature bait, rigged on 16-pound Yo Zuri T7 fluorocarbon mainline to a 16-pound T7 fluorocarbon leader. Fished on a 7’2” medium-heavy Voodoo II casting rod. “I weighed in all five of my fish on day one on this setup and one fish on the 2nd and 3rd day as well. The key to this bite was fishing where dollar pads met shell beds and fishing extremely slow.”
  2. A 5-inch Fishco Fishing Money Stick in green pumpkin purple flake with a 1/8 ounce tungsten weight, and fished on a 7’3” Heavy Shaman casting rod with 20 pound T7 Fluorocarbon. “I weighed in one of my biggest fish on this setup on day two fishing in shallow pads. The bite I had on this bait completely changed my tournament and indicated that the fish had moved up to spawn. “
  3. Black and blue hollow body frog fished on 65-pound Yo Zuri Bass Braid, fished on a 7’6” medium-heavy Voodoo II casting rod. “The key to this setup was targeting holes in the pads where I believed the fish were spawning. I fished the frog painfully slow but it was the only way to get them to commit. I weighed in three fish on this the 2nd day and four fish on it the last day.”
Cole Sands with a topwater frog and Voodoo II fishing rod
“The key to success in this event was undoubtedly slowing down in a small area I had confidence in and trusting my gut.”
Cole finished the event in 4th place amongst some of the best fishermen in the country, and moved up to 5th place in the overall Bassmaster Open’s Angler of the Year standings, keeping his Elite series hopes alive!

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