By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Adam Wagner has fished Dale Hollow Lake a lot. He lives 45 minutes away in Cookeville, Tenn. and has captured two of this 14 BFL wins there, along with a slew of local and regional triumphs.

Never before, however, had he caught largemouths from water as deep as he did in last week's Central Division Toyota Series derby.

The 2009 BFL All-American champion and former Bassmaster Classic qualifier compiled a three-day total of 34-06 to top runner-up Blake Smith by 5 ounces. Nearly half of his aggregate came on the final day when he boxed a tournament-best 16-01 to erase the 5-pound lead that Smith had begun the day with.

The 50-year-old Wagner, a foreman for a natural gas pipeline contractor, pulled all of his day-3 fish from 50 feet of water using a Silver Buddy Blade Bait. He'd discovered the place late on day 2 when, without a keeper in his livewell, he caught three that combined to weigh 9 pounds to advance to the final day.

It was a stroke of extreme good fortune that he'd set his boat down over the ditch where chunky largemouths were feasting on shad – had he killed his big motor a few yards away in either direction, he wouldn't have seen them on his electronics.

"I'd pulled up on a grass point where it goes into a pocket and the graph just lit up with fish," he said. "It was interesting to look at, but then I went and fished the grass point and as I was fixing to leave, I idled back over. There was a school of shad, and right next to them there were lines everywhere (indicating larger predatory fish).

"At 50 feet, I was sure they weren't going to be largemouth – I thought they had to be either walleye or crappie. I dropped down with the Silver Buddy and caught a 4-pound largemouth. Catching that fish messed the school up, but I came back an hour later and caught a 3-pounder, and then 30 minutes after that I caught a 2. At that point I was out of time and I had to leave them."

Best was Still to Come

Wagner returned to the spot to begin the final round and immediately boated a 3 1/2-pounder. He fished for the next couple hours without a bite, so he went looking for a similar scenario elsewhere and found another school that gave him second keeper.

He pulled a keeper smallmouth from a point, then returned to the place where he'd started the day with about 3 hours to fish. It was game-on at that juncture.

"They were really grouped up and I commenced to catching them for the rest of the day, all on the Silver Buddy," he said. "The biggest was a 4-pounder and I made my last cull 3 minutes before I had to head in – I got rid of a 15-incher with a 3 1/2-pounder."

He employed two different presentations with the blade bait.

"If I saw them (on the graph), I'd drop down and catch them vertically. If I didn't see them, I'd get on one side and throw across and bring it through the gut and I'd catch some slow-hopping it back."

Winning Gear Notes

> Blade bait gear: 7' medium-heavy Joe's Custom Rod, Shimano Curado casting reel (7:1 ratio), 10-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line, 5/8-ounce Silver Buddy (chrome).

> He swapped out the bait's stock hooks in favor of size 4 Gamakatsu trebles.

Notable

> Runner-up Smith was the only competitor to weight a limit on all 3 days. No one else totaled more than 12 keepers.

> Wagner caught his four-fish, 9-04 stringer on day 1 fishing shallow wood up the Wolf River with a Bandit 100 square-bill crankbait. "I went back up there to start day 2 and there were eight or nine other boats up there doing the same thing and just beating those fish to death. I never caught a keeper there on the second day."

> Despite his decades of success at lower levels, he has no desire to become a tour pro. "I'm not a fan of traveling that much," he said.



Final Standings

1. Adam Wagner -- Cookeville, Tn -- 9-4 (4) -- 9-1 (3) -- 16-1 (5) -- 34-6 (12) -- $62,761

2. Blake Smith -- Byrdstown, Tn -- 11-9 (5) -- 11-13 (5) -- 10-11 (5) -- 34-1 (15) -- $10,176

3. Dakota Ebare -- Denham Springs, La -- 11-7 (4) -- 6-4 (3) -- 11-6 (5) -- 29-1 (12) -- $8,078

4. Jonathan Bowling -- Harriman, Tn -- 13-6 (5) -- 4-4 (2) -- 9-3 (4) -- 26-13 (11) -- $6,565

5. Chris Malone -- Ironton, Oh -- 10-5 (5) -- 9-15 (5) -- 4-8 (2) -- 24-12 (12) -- $5,909

6. Nick Ratliff -- Vine Grove, Ky -- 10-10 (4) -- 8-3 (4) -- 2-11 (2) -- 21-8 (10) -- $5,252

7. Scott Stults -- Jamestown, Tn -- 11-13 (5) -- 7-11 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 19-8 (7) -- $4,671

8. Drew Boggs -- Lebanon, Tn -- 10-2 (5) -- 6-9 (5) -- 1-12 (2) -- 18-7 (12) -- $3,939

9. Marshall Deakins -- Dunlap, Tn -- 11-13 (5) -- 4-13 (2) -- 1-6 (1) -- 18-0 (8) -- $3,283

10. Billy Hall -- Florence, Ky -- 8-1 (3) -- 7-4 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-5 (5) -- $2,626

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

11. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, Tn -- 9-9 (5) -- 5-11 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-4 (8) -- $2,462

12. Tommy Brown -- Louisville, Tn -- 8-2 (4) -- 6-14 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-0 (7) -- $2,298

13. Jacob Wheeler -- Harrison, Tn -- 6-15 (2) -- 6-2 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 13-1 (4) -- $1,970

14. Brody Campbell -- Oxford, Oh -- 2-3 (1) -- 9-15 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-2 (5) -- $1,970

15. Seth Davis -- Harrison, Tn -- 5-4 (2) -- 6-13 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-1 (5) -- $1,970

16. Grant Galloway -- Houlka, Ms -- 6-15 (3) -- 5-1 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-0 (6) -- $1,970

17. Jim Neece Jr -- Bristol, Tn -- 7-4 (3) -- 4-8 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-12 (5) -- $1,970

18. Ricky Robinson -- Greenback, Tn -- 6-2 (3) -- 5-5 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-7 (5) -- $1,970

19. Kevin Meunier -- Lamar, In -- 7-9 (3) -- 3-9 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-2 (5) -- $1,970

20. Chris Gerrein -- Villa Hills, Ky -- 10-9 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-9 (3) -- $1,970

21. Robert Reagan -- Byrdstown, Tn -- 8-7 (3) -- 1-14 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-5 (4)

22. Isaac Peavyhouse -- Jamestown, Tn -- 8-10 (4) -- 1-9 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-3 (5)

23. John Janick -- Adams, Tn -- 4-2 (2) -- 5-5 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-7 (5)

24. Tristan Abbott -- Somerset, Ky -- 2-7 (1) -- 6-14 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-5 (5)

25. Brent McCloud -- Burkesville, Ky -- 1-5 (1) -- 7-14 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-3 (4)

26. Adam Militana -- Saluda, Nc -- 4-14 (3) -- 4-5 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-3 (5)

27. Joe Rucker -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 2-12 (1) -- 6-4 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-0 (3)

28. Michael Bean -- Bowling Green, Ky -- 3-13 (2) -- 5-3 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-0 (5)

29. Brent Anderson -- Kingston Springs, Tn -- 5-15 (3) -- 3-0 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-15 (4)

30. Brian Baker -- Olmstead, Ky -- 6-12 (3) -- 2-1 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-13 (4)

31. William Merrick -- Mount Juliet, Tn -- 2-8 (2) -- 6-4 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-12 (5)

32. Gary Watters -- Whitley City, Ky -- 5-0 (2) -- 3-11 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-11 (3)

33. Jimmy Gayhart -- Sadieville, Ky -- 3-5 (3) -- 5-4 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-9 (5)

34. Shane Melton -- Kokomo, In -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-3 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-3 (4)

35. Crispin Powley -- Camden, Tn -- 3-10 (1) -- 4-4 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-14 (2)

36. Tim Wilson -- Marion, In -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-12 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-12 (3)

37. Jim Moynagh -- Shakopee, Mn -- 7-5 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-5 (3)

38. Kyle Glasgow -- Guin, Al -- 2-9 (2) -- 4-12 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-5 (4)

39. Dustin Neat -- Dunnville, Ky -- 4-0 (2) -- 2-15 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-15 (3)

40. Jeff Cannon -- Douglasville, Ga -- 2-7 (1) -- 4-6 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-13 (3)

41. Dustin Evans -- Eads, Tn -- 5-1 (1) -- 1-6 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-7 (2) -- $75

42. Scottie Raines -- Fort Payne, Al -- 2-13 (1) -- 3-9 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-6 (3)

43. Derek Flynn -- Burnside, Ky -- 2-4 (1) -- 4-1 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-5 (2)

44. Jeff Mclain -- Columbus, Ms -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-3 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-3 (3)

45. Jordan Nettles -- Lumberton, Ms -- 1-12 (1) -- 4-6 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-2 (4)

46. William Campbell -- Middlesboro, Ky -- 3-14 (1) -- 2-3 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-1 (2)

47. Rusty White -- Soddy Daisy, Tn -- 1-11 (1) -- 3-15 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-10 (3)

48. Lawson Tilghman -- Somerville, Tn -- 4-5 (2) -- 1-2 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-7 (3)

49. Ron Smith -- Walton, Ky -- 4-3 (3) -- 1-3 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-6 (4)

50. Bob Blackerby -- Chelsea, Al -- 2-1 (1) -- 2-15 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-0 (2)

51. Chris Hurd -- Nancy, Ky -- 2-0 (1) -- 2-14 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-14 (3)

52. Gary Isgrigg -- Mt. Washington, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-12 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-12 (2)

53. Matt Stanley -- Alexandria, Tn -- 2-2 (2) -- 2-8 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-10 (3)

54. Anthony Roy -- Lancaster, Ky -- 4-8 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-8 (1)

55. Josh Norris -- Spring City, Tn -- 4-1 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-1 (1)

56. Wayne Cook -- Gautier, Ms -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-12 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-12 (2)

57. Christopher Stites Sr -- Lebanon, Tn -- 3-11 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-11 (2)

58. Thomas Escue -- Point Pleasant, Wv -- 3-10 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-10 (1)

59. Eric Moore -- Union, Ky -- 3-8 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-8 (1)

60. Brad Adkins -- West Liberty, Ky -- 1-10 (1) -- 1-6 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-0 (2) -- $250

61. Brian Elder -- Locust Grove, Ga -- 1-1 (1) -- 1-2 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-3 (2)

62. Jason Hagewood -- Cadiz, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-2 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-2 (1)

63. Daniel Cline -- Prospect, Ky -- 2-0 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-0 (1)

64. Bill Smith Jr -- Burlington, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-15 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-15 (1)

65. Derek Mills -- Sellersburg, In -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-14 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-14 (1)

66. Brian Hatfield -- Spring City, Tn -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-14 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-14 (1)

67. Alex Hester -- Crossville, Tn -- 1-12 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-12 (1)

68. Brent Butler -- Vonore, Tn -- 1-11 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-11 (1)

69. Shawn Hawks -- Vinton, Oh -- 1-11 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-11 (1)

70. John Murray -- Spring City, Tn -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-7 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-7 (1)

71. Steve Whitaker -- Scottsville, Ky -- 1-7 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-7 (1)

72. Vernon Lowe -- Oneida, Tn -- 1-5 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-5 (1)

73. Scotty Estes -- Holly Pond, Al -- 1-2 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 1-2 (1)

Bill Hutchison -- Bessemer, Al -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Rick Bowen -- Jackson, Tn -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Tim McDonald -- Paintsville, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Pat Eichmann -- Nancy, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Anthony Hagewood -- Herndon, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Andrew Scott -- Wayne, Wv -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

John Deakins -- Dunlap, Tn -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)