James Elam’s Winning Gameplan for Fishing The REDCREST IV Tournament On Lake Norman

The world’s best bass anglers are gathering in North Carolina for Major League Fishing’s world championship set for Lake Norman from Mar. 8-12.

Veteran tournament bass pro James Elam of Oklahoma is one of the top 40 anglers from the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season, competing for the REDCREST Championship trophy and the top prize of $300,000.

The 36-year-old angler has never fished the 50 square mile clear-water reservoir, but the seasoned tournament bass fisherman has scouted the lake from his boat, and he has a solid game plan for catching Norman’s spotted and largemouth bass.

“I like fishing deeper, offshore water, but Norman has lots and lots of docks, and I think that fishing them will be the key to winning the tournament, and that’s what I’ll be doing,” he says. “The lake has a couple of power plants that discharge warm water into the lake, and while those places may offer better early-spring fishing, I plan to stay away from them because they’ll probably draw a lot of pressure from other anglers.”

Elam says water temperature will be an important factor in where he’ll concentrate his tournament fishing efforts.

“I’ll be looking for 57 to 60-degree water near docks for bass staging to spawn,” he says. “Docks with 3 to 5 feet of water should hold fish, and I’ll be looking for the deepest docks, which usually are best.”

Elam says because of Norman’s clear water, he should be able to see the deeper water of preferred docks, but there are other tip-offs to prime spots, too.

“A lot of times, big powerboats, or sailboats, require a deeper bottom at docks where they’re tied up than some other docks with small boats on them,” he explains. “Those places could be a choice for pre-spawn Lake Norman bass.”

While Elam likely will target smaller spotted bass in the early mornings, he’ll be looking for largemouth bass mostly because they average bigger, which is important to having a heavy limit of five fish during the tournament.

“As the water warms later in the day, largemouths should be most active and vulnerable,” he says. “And I’ve got to catch a good number of bigger largemouth to win the event. I think the last two days of fishing is going to take 28 to 32 pounds of bass to win top place, and largemouth bass will make that possible in a limit of fish.”

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Image courtesy of MLF

Elam plans on skipping jigs and tube lures under docks to trigger bass strikes, preferring green and brown lures, some with trailers.

Skipping lures to prime bass hang-outs isn’t easy, and Elam says having the correct equipment is essential to success. He will mainly use a KastKing Speed Demon Pro Series 7-foot-3 rod designed for jig and worm fishing. Fitted to that rod will be a KastKing Speed Demon Elite bait-casting reel with a lightning-fast 10.5-to-1 retrieve ratio. The reel will be spooled with 15 to 20-pound test fluorocarbon line.

“The super-fast retrieve of the Speed Demon Elite really is helpful for working docks because I can cast, and if I don’t get bites in five seconds, I can quickly retrieve the lure for another cast,” he explains. “Speed in getting lures back quickly so another cast can be made to a dock target is important to winning tournaments.”

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If Elam must work Senko lures or wacky rigs in clear water, he’ll use spinning tackle and lighter line.

“If there’s no wind and I’ve got to slow down my presentation for finesse fishing in clear water, spinning tackle is the way to go,” he explains. “My KastKing 7-foot-3 fast-action Speed Demon Pro rod is perfect. I’ll couple it with a KastKing MegaJaws Elite spinning reel spooled with 20-pound test braided line and 10-pound test fluorocarbon leader.”

About KastKing

Founded in 2013, KastKing had a vision of producing quality products designed by anglers for anglers and delivered directly to the consumer at affordable prices. True to that vision, KastKing products are developed through feedback from the fishing community and go straight to the manufacturing floor. This inverse of the traditional manufacturer-to-consumer formula introduces cutting-edge features into new products that anglers want and need. The brand has gained popularity among anglers by offering affordable innovation through in-house engineering, which allows KastKing to provide never before seen technology at truly remarkable prices. Ten years later, KastKing products have been sold to consumers in more than 150 countries and regions across the globe through a variety of supply chains. Originally, KastKing’s products were only available online, but consumers can now find their favorite products in a growing number of retail locations. For more information about KastKing and KastKing products, please visit our website at kastking.com or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube.

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