By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Aaron Johnson competed in a BFL Regional event at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in late September and was one of several dozen anglers in the field of 157 who failed to weigh in a keeper. He caught a small one, but opted to turn it loose and forego the ceremony.

It was a much different story when he returned 2 weeks later for the Southwestern Toyota Series derby. He got 15 to 20 bites a day on a modified crankbait and went on to post the second triple-A victory of his career and the first in 12 years with a 3-day total of 54-14.

The 47-year-old resident of Shreveport, La., the president and CEO of a software firm, compiled bags weighing 19-02, 16-14 and 18-14, outdistancing runner-up Blake Schroeder by 11 ounces. He caught all of his fish on super shallow-running crankbaits that he'd made several modifications to, including filing down the bill.

"We had bluebird conditions during practice, and then things changed," he said. "We got some wind and overcast skies on the first (competition) day and progressively more wind on the second and third days. That really helps that bite a lot.

"I knew the deep bite wasn't consistent and the big waves would've blown me off the water out there anyhow. Everything just kind of aligned in my favor."

He caught fish that he'd found while preparing for the BFL Regional, when circumstances weren't right to exploit them.

"It got slick and there wasn't a ripple on the water. I had six bites that day three or four on the crankbait and I caught none of them."

Didn't Have to Share

Having settled on a grass-based approach fairly early in practice, Johnson wondered why he wasn't seeing more fellow competitors around the vegetation. He was surprised to learn that there were only 109 entries he'd expected at least the number that had fished the BFL Regional and perhaps as many as 200.

He was in 2nd place after both days 1 and 2, trailing Schroeder by just 3 ounces as the field was cut to the Top 10. Both anglers put together solid stringers in the final round, with Johnson's registering 14 ounces heavier.

He said his bites came in spurts.

"The first day of the tournament I probably caught seven in a row and never moved my boat," he said. "There was a feeding window every day between 2 and 3 o'clock and I'd catch either my biggest one or one of the biggest from one particular drain.

"On the last day I one on a white cull tag that I needed to get rid of and I'd had it since 11:30. I'd culled a couple of times, but white was always the smallest. I eased up into that drain at 2 and there was a boat in there, but he left at 2:10. I went in behind him and caught a 3 1/2-pounder that replaced a 2, and that was the winning fish."

He caught fish from depths that ranged from 3 to 7 feet. Most were around patches of grass that had broken away from mats or on isolated clumps.

"I tried to make casts that were as long as I could make them, but still be efficient," he said. "With the right glasses and the right angle, you could see where the clumps and the grass lines were.

"Those Rayburn fish are very educated and I've watched them on (Garmin) LiveScope swim away from me when I got to close to them. Still, every day I'd have fish bite within 10 feet of the boat."

Winning Gear Notes

> Cranking gear: 7' medium-heavy Kistler Magnesium rod, Quantum Vapor casting reel (7:1 ratio), 15- or 17-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line, unnamed out-of-production square-bill (shad).

> He used the 17-pound line if he was throwing the bait across a clump of grass and bringing it back over the top. The 15-pound was for times when he was plying the sides of the vegetation.

> In addition to filing the baits, he also does a bit of custom painting. "I don't know if that matters much, though, because I'm reeling them so fast."

Notable

> Johnson's first triple-A victory occurred at the 2008 Bassmaster Central Open at Kentucky Lake.



Final Standings

1. Aaron Johnson -- Shreveport, La -- 19-2 (5) -- 16-14 (5) -- 18-14 (5) -- 54-14 (15) -- $31,751

2. Blake Schroeder -- Whitehouse, Tx -- 18-3 (5) -- 18-0 (5) -- 18-0 (5) -- 54-3 (15) -- $12,303

3. Nick Lebrun -- Bossier City, La -- 14-7 (5) -- 19-13 (5) -- 11-11 (5) -- 45-15 (15) -- $9,525

4. Chris McCall -- Palmer, Tx -- 18-13 (5) -- 15-5 (5) -- 10-11 (5) -- 44-13 (15) -- $7,938

5. Stephen Johnston -- Hemphill, Tx -- 14-0 (5) -- 18-13 (5) -- 9-4 (5) -- 42-1 (15) -- $7,144

6. Tim Reneau -- Richland Springs, Tx -- 15-0 (5) -- 14-6 (5) -- 12-9 (5) -- 41-15 (15) -- $6,350

7. Kenneth Cates -- Zavalla, Tx -- 17-14 (5) -- 12-8 (5) -- 11-6 (5) -- 41-12 (15) -- $5,556

8. Todd Castledine -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 12-1 (5) -- 17-5 (5) -- 11-14 (5) -- 41-4 (15) -- $4,763

9. Cole Moore -- Anacoco, La -- 21-0 (5) -- 10-9 (5) -- 8-11 (4) -- 40-4 (14) -- $4,969

10. Justin O`Brian Cooper -- Zwolle, La -- 14-8 (5) -- 15-14 (5) -- 8-14 (5) -- 39-4 (15) -- $3,175

The following anglers did not make the cut and did not fish on day 3.

11. Fletcher Shryock -- Grant, Al -- 13-11 (5) -- 14-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 28-5 (10) -- $2,977

12. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, Ok -- 13-10 (5) -- 13-14 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-8 (10) -- $2,778

13. Kevin Lasyone -- Dry Prong, La -- 11-11 (5) -- 15-10 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-5 (9) -- $2,381

14. Zack Birge -- Blanchard, Ok -- 15-14 (5) -- 11-5 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-3 (10) -- $2,381

15. Josh Bensema -- Willis, Tx -- 16-8 (5) -- 10-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-2 (10) -- $2,381

16. David Curtis -- Trinity, Tx -- 12-5 (5) -- 14-13 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-2 (10) -- $2,381

17. Kris Wilson -- Montgomery, Tx -- 13-10 (5) -- 13-6 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-0 (10) -- $2,381

18. Jerod Keith -- Doyline, La -- 13-3 (5) -- 13-11 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-14 (10) -- $2,381

19. Andrew McClusky -- Silsbee, Tx -- 16-13 (5) -- 9-4 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-1 (8) -- $2,381

20. Keith Nabours -- Hemphill, Tx -- 10-10 (5) -- 15-7 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-1 (10) -- $2,381

21. Cody Pitt -- Many, La -- 14-13 (5) -- 10-7 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 25-4 (10) -- $2,183

22. River Lee -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 13-0 (5) -- 12-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 25-2 (10) -- $2,183

23. Clayton Boulware -- Zavalla, Tx -- 13-4 (5) -- 10-14 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 24-2 (10) -- $2,183

24. Brad Hillebrandt -- Ragley, La -- 9-3 (5) -- 14-6 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-9 (10) -- $2,183

25. Darold Gleason -- Many, La -- 8-4 (5) -- 15-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-7 (10) -- $2,183

26. Cameron Mattison -- Bossier City, La -- 9-2 (5) -- 14-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-4 (10) -- $1,984

27. Dakota Ebare -- Denham Springs, La -- 8-3 (5) -- 14-15 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-2 (10) -- $2,184

28. Colby Miller -- Elmer, La -- 12-15 (5) -- 9-15 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 22-14 (9)

29. James Gaskin -- Broussard, La -- 15-6 (5) -- 7-4 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 22-10 (9)

30. Cody Huff -- Ava, Mo -- 13-1 (5) -- 9-6 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 22-7 (10)

31. Joe Beebee -- Montgomery, Tx -- 11-2 (5) -- 11-4 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 22-6 (10)

32. Louis Ferguson -- Woodville, Tx -- 7-4 (4) -- 15-1 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 22-5 (9)

33. Michael Herron -- Paris, Tx -- 16-7 (5) -- 5-11 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 22-2 (8)

34. Sheldon Collings -- Grove, Ok -- 9-1 (5) -- 12-12 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-13 (10)

35. Michael Scalise -- Port Allen, La -- 10-3 (5) -- 10-15 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-2 (9)

36. Bryton Kurtz -- Montgomery, Tx -- 11-7 (5) -- 9-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-1 (10)

37. James Ware -- Longview, Tx -- 15-14 (5) -- 5-2 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-0 (7)

38. Will Hughes -- Tyler, Tx -- 11-6 (5) -- 9-10 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-0 (6) -- $102

39. Joseph Norris -- Bossier City, La -- 9-12 (4) -- 11-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-14 (9) -- $500

40. Jeff Reynolds -- Calera, Ok -- 9-9 (4) -- 11-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-12 (9)

41. Kyle Hall -- Granbury, Tx -- 11-3 (5) -- 9-5 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-8 (10)

42. Danny Weems -- Como, Tx -- 13-14 (5) -- 6-8 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-6 (8)

43. Hayden Heck -- Lufkin, Tx -- 11-11 (5) -- 8-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-5 (10)

44. Ryan Williams -- Lufkin, Tx -- 12-7 (4) -- 6-8 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-15 (8)

45. Dicky Newberry -- Houston, Tx -- 5-11 (4) -- 13-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-14 (9)

46. Jacob Keenom -- Wellston, Ok -- 9-5 (5) -- 9-7 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-12 (10)

47. Brandon Moss -- Blanchard, Ok -- 12-0 (5) -- 6-11 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-11 (9)

48. Jacopo Gallelli -- Florence, Fi -- 7-14 (3) -- 10-11 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-9 (7)

49. Eric Wright -- Balch Springs, Tx -- 13-4 (5) -- 5-3 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-7 (8)

50. Jaden Parrish -- Liberty, Tx -- 8-14 (5) -- 9-5 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-3 (10)

51. Scout Echols -- Monticello, Ar -- 4-14 (2) -- 13-0 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-14 (7)

52. Jeff Bridges -- Lumberton, Tx -- 9-3 (5) -- 8-10 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-13 (9)

53. Roberto Novoa -- Frisco, Tx -- 7-4 (4) -- 10-8 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-12 (9)

54. Bronk McDaniel -- Alexandria, La -- 10-5 (5) -- 7-1 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-6 (8)

55. Randy Despino -- Colfax, La -- 9-12 (5) -- 7-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-6 (10)

56. Earl Ates -- Longview, Tx -- 3-15 (3) -- 13-6 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-5 (8)

57. Chris Lewis -- Longview, Tx -- 10-10 (5) -- 6-7 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-1 (9)

58. Weston Brown -- Houston, Tx -- 4-2 (2) -- 12-13 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-15 (7)

59. Hayden Newberry -- Jonesboro, Il -- 8-13 (5) -- 8-2 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-15 (9)

60. Eric Leger -- Mamou, La -- 5-10 (3) -- 11-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-12 (8)

61. Randy Millender -- Teague, Tx -- 6-12 (4) -- 9-12 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-8 (8)

62. Bill Cook -- Houston, Tx -- 4-15 (3) -- 11-5 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-4 (8)

63. Neal Gilmore -- Magnolia, Tx -- 6-11 (3) -- 9-2 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-13 (7)

64. Terry Hawkins -- Corsicana, Tx -- 2-11 (2) -- 12-14 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-9 (7)

65. Billy Hurt -- Spring Creek, Tn -- 9-6 (5) -- 5-14 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-4 (7)

66. Bob Vote -- Kingwood, Tx -- 8-7 (4) -- 6-12 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-3 (7)

67. Skeeter Fowler -- Grand Saline, Tx -- 2-3 (1) -- 12-15 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-2 (5)

68. Kyle Cortiana -- Coweta, Ok -- 6-10 (2) -- 8-7 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-1 (6)

69. Tommy Durham -- Whitney, Tx -- 9-3 (3) -- 5-2 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-5 (6)

70. Mike Richardson -- Thorndale, Tx -- 12-15 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-15 (2) -- $102

71. Chris King -- Beaumont, Tx -- 9-1 (5) -- 3-14 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-15 (7)

72. Tommy Dickerson -- Orange, Tx -- 5-9 (3) -- 6-14 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-7 (7)

73. Kevin Walker -- Buna, Tx -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-8 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-8 (5)

74. Samuel Byrd -- Tahlequah, Ok -- 1-14 (1) -- 8-10 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-8 (4)

75. Jody Holt -- Sieper, La -- 10-0 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-0 (5)

76. Adam Amick -- Boerne, Tx -- 9-9 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-9 (4)

77. Lance Crawford -- Broken Bow, Ok -- 5-11 (4) -- 3-11 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-6 (6)

78. Clay Phillips -- Huntington, Tx -- 9-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-3 (5)

78. John Campbell -- Houston, Tx -- 9-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-3 (5)

80. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 1-9 (1) -- 7-3 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-12 (5)

81. Bryan Trahan -- Orange, Tx -- 3-14 (2) -- 4-14 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-12 (5)

82. Wesley Dawson -- Chester, Tx -- 8-10 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-10 (4)

83. Terry Luedtke -- Burton, Tx -- 4-5 (2) -- 4-4 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-9 (3)

84. Duane Pittman -- Prairieville, La -- 6-13 (3) -- 1-8 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-5 (4)

85. Bradley Perkins -- Raymond, Ms -- 4-11 (2) -- 3-7 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-2 (4)

86. Jeff Richards -- Colorado Springs, Co -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-15 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-15 (4)

87. Jason Williams -- Nederland, Tx -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-9 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-9 (4)

88. Winston Michel -- Pierre Part, La -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-5 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-5 (4)

89. Ed Melton -- Houston, Tx -- 7-2 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-2 (3) -- $200

90. Steve Oram -- Hallsville, Tx -- 4-10 (2) -- 2-6 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-0 (3)

91. Brian Robison -- Bellville, Tx -- 6-15 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-15 (3)

92. Joe Gerard -- Concordia, Ks -- 2-14 (1) -- 3-11 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-9 (3)

93. Randy Cisler -- Mesquite, Tx -- 6-7 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-7 (3)

94. Charley Slaton -- Valliant, Ok -- 5-15 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-15 (2)

95. Jeff Ragsdale -- Gardendale, Al -- 3-15 (2) -- 2-0 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-15 (3)

96. Troy Roder -- Brookeland, Tx -- 2-2 (1) -- 3-9 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-11 (3)

97. Bo Keith -- Haughton, La -- 3-9 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-9 (2)

98. Robert Brown -- Round Rock, Tx -- 1-8 (1) -- 1-14 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-6 (2)

99. Gary Caruso -- Baton Rouge, La -- 2-14 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-14 (1)

100. Tommy Martin -- Hemphill, Tx -- 1-11 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-11 (1)

101. Rob Burns -- Plano, Tx -- 1-10 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-10 (1)

102. Eric Faucett -- Norman, Ok -- 1-7 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-7 (1)

103. Larry Jones -- Calhoun, La -- 1-4 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-4 (1)

Mike Sierra -- San Antonio, Tx -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Jame Dubroc -- Hessmer, La -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Jack Covas -- Waco, Tx -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Anthony Goodson -- Driftwood, Tx -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Brent Bonadona -- Port Allen, La -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Skye Ball -- Lumberton, Tx -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)