The Answer Man - Brent Chapman's Tacklebox

From freezing in February through a blazing hot summer, Chapman had something for every situation

By Steve Wright

Photo of Brent Chapman fishing during a tournament
Brent Chapman pulls up a fish during tournament action. (James Overstreet photo)

Brent Chapman's dream season started in bitter cold at Lewisville Lake in February and peaked with a victory in blazing heat at Toledo Bend in June. Throughout the year, Chapman seemed to have an answer for every situation in winning the Bassmaster Elite Series Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year title.

Photo of Brent Chapman holding his Bassmaster Elite Series trophyAfter a 2011 season in which he missed the top 50 cut in four of the eight Elite Series events and barely qualified for his 11th Bassmaster Classic, Chapman knew he needed to step up his game.

He was also facing the milestone of his 40th birthday in 2012. And Chapman managed a U-turn in his career.

Before the season ended, Chapman was triple-qualified for the 2013 Classic, which will be held in familiar waters – Oklahoma's Grand Lake.

On the following pages are the lures that led to Chapman's turnaround – from the "ultimate finesse" wacky worm that produced a 6-pound, 5-ounce largemouth bass in the Sunday fish-off at the Central Open on Lewisville Lake to the heavy-metal flutter spoon that keyed his victory in the thick standing timber at Toledo Bend Reservoir – Chapman had an answer for every situation in 2012.

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Brent's Tacklebox

Photo of Brent Chapman's tacklebox

1-2 Central Open #1, Lewisville Lake, 1st place, Feb. 9-12: With wind howling as high as 30-miles-per-hour and temperatures dipping into the 20s overnight, catching anything was a struggle. His first choice was a Texas-rigged, Tightlines UV Finesse Worm. "I had somebody fishing in the boat with me for the first time in years," said Chapman, referring to his co-angler in the Central Open, versus the non-fishing marshal program in place for the Elite Series. "Sometimes that's a good thing. He caught one or two keepers behind me on a wacky worm, so I knew I could catch a fish or two on it." Chapman's winning fish came on a Tightlines UV Finesse Worm, rigged wacky-style.

3-4 Bassmaster Classic, Red River, 18th place, Feb. 24-26: A double-willowleaf War Eagle Spinnerbait is "a go-to bait in the spring when fish are moving up to spawn." Chapman also used a Texas-rigged Tightlines UV Beaver to flip the thick cover in the Red River.

5 St. Johns River Showdown, 4th place, March 15-18: Chapman relied on two Tightlines UV lures – a 6-inch Hog and a 5-inch UVenko – both Texas-rigged. "I used the Hog when I was sight-fishing for them on a bed and the UVenko when I would back off and pitch into holes in the vegetation," he said.

6-7 Power-Pole Slam, Lake Okeechobee (Fla.), 5th place, March 22-25: Chapman started with a UVenko Texas-rigged with a 1/8th-ounce weight, but discovered that a black-and-blue jig with a UV Beaver trailer allowed him to fish more efficiently in the thick bulrushes and reeds. "It seemed like they wanted a bigger, bulkier bait," Chapman said. "When they are hitting a jig, that's hard to beat. (Winner) Ish (Monroe) proved that."

8-9 Bull Shoals Lake (Ark.) Quest, 5th place, April 19-22: By combining the old (a Storm Wiggle Wart) with the new (a 5-inch TopShelf Swimbait), Chapman recorded his third-straight Top 5 finish. "I wish some expert would analyze why crankbaits are different," Chapman said. "There's something about those old Wiggle-Warts." Chapman upgraded his catch by switching to the swimbait, thrown in the same areas where the crankbait bite was strong – rock transitions 4 to 8 feet deep.

10-11 Douglas Lake (Tenn.) Challenge, 58th place, May 3-6: This was Chapman's lone "hiccup" of the season. He stayed shallow, catching fish on a Luck E Strike RC 1.5 square-billed crankbait and a UV Tightlines Bill Lowen Tube Texas-rigged with a 3/8ths ounce Eagle Claw Tungsten weight.

12-13 Toledo Bend (La.) Battle, 1st place, June 7-19: Chapman's winning four-day total of 83 pounds, 9 ounces primarily came on a big flutter spoon cast amidst the standing timber of Toledo Bend. "I'd learned at Table Rock how well the spoon would work. I didn't hang up nearly as bad as I thought I would at Toledo Bend." He also caught two key fish on a homemade football-head jig with a Tightlines UV Hog trailer. "I wanted to give the fish something they hadn't seen before," Chapman said.

14-15-16 Mississippi River Rumble, LaCrosse, Wis., 22nd, June 21-24: Three lures helped Chapman to another strong finish: 1) a white Booyah Pad Crasher frog, 2) a swim jig with a Tightlines UV jig trailer, and 3) a Tightlines UV Beaver, Texas-rigged. "My (color) selection on frogs has really gotten small," Chapman said. "It's white (on bright days) and black (on cloudy days). With those three lures, Chapman worked from the top to the bottom of the abundant aquatic vegetation.

17-18 Green Bay (Wis.) Challenge, Lake Michigan, 27th, June 28-July 1: Chapman avoided a stumble by staying in the Fox River and using a UV Beaver on a Mesu Bait Wobble-Head and a Luck E Strike RC 1.5 square-billed crankbait. The Wobble-Head is similar to the jointed jighead that Tommy Biffle uses on his Biffle Bugs.

19-20-21 Oneida Championship, Oneida Lake (N.Y.), 6th, Aug. 23-26: This is where Chapman sewed up the AOY title and demonstrated his versatility in the process. He used two topwater baits: a Heddon Zara Spook and an XCaliber Pop-R. He worked mid-depths with a NetBait Swimbait and hit the bottom with a Texas-rigged UV Tightlines Beaver. "When the sun got up, they liked topwater baits better," Chapman said.  

Photo of Brent Chapman holding a bass

Chapman found methods to catch fish in all conditions. (James Overstreet photo)