UNION SPRINGS — When you become a professional angler, there is satisfaction when you return to your home state and fish on the waters where you grew up.
On Sunday afternoon, Jamie Hartman, a native of the Herkimer County town of Newport, claimed the $100,000 grand prize by winning the four-day Bassmaster Elite Series event on Cayuga Lake. In fourth place going into Sunday’s final day of fishing, Hartman caught five bass that weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces, hiking his tournament total to 80 pounds, 13 ounces.
“It just couldn’t be any better than this,” Hartman said in a Bassmaster-issued press release. “For it to happen right here in my home state with all of my family here, it’s incredibly special. This is where mt heart is. It’ll be hard to top this — ever.”
Hartman used two baits during the event: a 4.75-inch Synth Worm from Riot Baits in green pumpkin neon on a drop-shot rig, and a shad-colored crankbait he said is no longer in production.
A key to his victory was consistency on the water. His daily totals: 16-4 on Thursday, 19-9 Friday, 22-2 Saturday and 22-4 Sunday. He mentioned his catches rose each day because he learned the sweet spots in the north end of the lake.
“I had found a place on the south end during practice that was loaded with them,” Hartman added. “That’s where I started, and they weren’t in there. I left there with only about 14 pounds and went back up to one little area of grass I found back up north. I decided to stick with that the rest of the week, and I learned which parts of it I needed to be fishing and which ones I didn’t have to bother with.”
Mother Nature also provided some assistance in Hartman’s big victory. His crankbait proved to be the best thanks to a little wind assistance. When calmer conditions arrived Sunday morning, he got nervous and opted to run the south end of the lake in an effort to catch one more big bass. However, after fishing docks without a bite, he booked back to the north.
“As I was running to the south end, I could see the wind was finally putting a little bit of ripple on the water,” he said. “I started to just turn around and go right back to fish the crankbait, but I knew I would be able to tell pretty fast if the dock bite was happening — and it wasn’t.”
That decision alone proved to be beneficial as he quickly nabbed a 4-pounder that put him in the lead.
“Everything happens for a reason,” he added. “If I don’t make that run to the south — if I just stay where I was — maybe I don’t catch that 4-pounder. It worked out just right.”