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Proctor, Team South Carolina Win Southern Divisional

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John Proctor of Conway, S.C., caught 34 pounds, 11 ounces to take the title at the Pee Dee River Basin during the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional held out of Georgetown, S.C., Friday

Photo Craig Lamb/B.A.S.S.

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April 24, 2015

Proctor, Team South Carolina Win Southern Divisional

GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Familiar water and tidal fishing knowledge paid off for South Carolina’s John Proctor, the overall winner Friday of the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional held on the Pee Dee River Basin.

Proctor’s winning weight totaled 34 pounds, 11 ounces in a tournament separated by mere ounces all three days. Kentucky’s Mark Pierce finished second with 30-4, followed by Alabama’s Kyle Glasgow with 26-2.

Proctor’s win centers around a fishing tale that is actually real. He fished during practice with a hookless soft plastic jerkbait to avoid spooking spawning bass. Oddly, one fish took the bait and refused to shake free.

“She jumped out of the water, I got a good look and knew I had to go back the next day,” he said.

Proctor, a member of the Conway Bassmasters, went sleepless on competition eve for good reason. He couldn’t wait to go back and try his luck to catch the bass. He returned and caught the fish, weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces.

That bass proved vital to the win and then some. Proctor received a bonus for catching the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass of the tournament.

Proctor targeted a dike protecting a marina all three days. He said the draw for the spawning females was a hard, sandy bottom created when the marina was dredged.

“That’s local knowledge, and the fish use those areas to spawn,” he said. “There is also deeper water in the harbor bordered by the firm bottom.”

Proctor gained new knowledge even though he is considered a local expert. He discovered the best success for spawning happens on a rising tide.

“The spawning females stay longer because high tide keeps the beds underwater,” he observed. “They are more aggressive and willing to bite.”

Another lesson learned is what happens during a falling tide.

“You can find the beds easier because they are nearly out of the water,” he said.

That’s how he located the bass anchoring the win. During practice he did not see the bed, although he returned later in the day to find it.

Proctor targeted spawning bass for another reason. He claims the recent new moon sparked a major migration. Waves of bass moved from the river channel into the shallow basin.

“That gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I felt like when the fishing slowed it would improve when another wave moved shallow to spawn.”

To catch his winning weight, Proctor relied on a rotation of three lures. Those were a weightless Senko, a shaky head and a Zoom Baby Brush Hog. He made casts to the spawning beds to coax fish off the beds.

The contestants qualified from local bass clubs and state championships. As the top angler from South Carolina, Proctor advances to the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship to be held this fall. The following high finishers from the following states will join him: Mark Pierce, Tennessee; Roger Thomas, North Carolina; Lance Freeman, Kentucky; Kyle Glasgow Jr., Alabama; Wayne Black, Florida; and Brad Durden, Georgia.

The tournament included a competition between states as well. Each team had 14 anglers with their cumulative weight counting toward the total. South Carolina won with 288 pounds, 9 ounces. Alabama took second place with 242-11, followed by Georgia with 227-12. Florida followed with 219-1 and North Carolina placed fifth with 218-10. Tennessee finished with 213-10 and Kentucky claimed seventh place with 199-9.

South Carolina received a Triton 189 TrX rigged with a Mercury outboard, Lowrance electronics and a MotorGuide trolling motor. The complete package is valued at $33,340.

State championship high school teams competed alongside the adults to hone their skills. The cumulative weight caught was added to the overall score of the state team. Carter McNeil and Tucker Smith represented Abbeville High School to win the title for South Carolina. The team’s overall weight was 17-11.

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