New, then old, now it's new again

Three tournaments into the Elite Series season and newcomer Jamie Hartman is sitting pretty in 10th place in the AOY race, thanks largely to top three finishes at both Cherokee and Toledo Bend, two wildly disparate lakes. Hartman’s story is a good one, not only because he’s a 40-something northeasterner bashing into a circuit where rookies are still largely younger and more southern, but also because he pretty much bet the farm on this as a career – selling almost everything, putting the rest in storage, breaking up with his girlfriend and couch surfing his way to this point.
Watching him at Toledo Bend, a place seemingly tailor-made for 25 lb. fluorocarbon and 65 lb. braid, I was thrilled to watch him compile a 3rd place finish partially on a light line dropshot rig. My inclination is always to do the opposite – power fish when others are finessing – so any time I see someone “bring a knife to a gunfight” and emerge on top, I’m intrigued. At the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River, I watched Aaron Martens catch fish after fish after fish on a dropshot in an area called McDade while most of the many other anglers around him struggled to catch one or two.
While Hartman’s approach was unusual, it wasn’t unprecedented. I fished the amateur side of a Bassmaster Top 150 tournament on Toledo Bend in 2001 which was won by Dean Rojas with a spinnerbait and a flipping tube. What was memorable for me, however, was the third place finisher in that event, Ben Matsubu. As others crunched through the shallow water jungle, Matsubu, fishing just his second Top 150 and his seventh B.A.S.S. event overall, stayed offshore and dropshotted up 55 pounds of bass on 6 lb. line. Of the 152 pros in that event (the Top 150s were slightly misnamed), I’m guessing that you might not need both hands to count the number who even owned 6 lb. line at that time, let alone brought it to Toledo. Sixteen years later, I'm guessing that hasn't changed.