[Editor’s note: Pro Angler Jody Queen wins more trophies and money in one year than most of us will see in a lifetime. In May of 2020, he won a KBF Trail event (Randleman, N.C.). On August 1 and 2, he then placed Fourth (third-place tiebreaker) and Fifth in the RealTree Fishing KBF TRAIL Series presented by Dee Zee near Clemson, South Carolina. Below are Jody Queens’s observations.]

Another great TRAIL weekend in the record books. This past weekend I found myself on Lake Hartwell in Clemson, South Carolina. This is a beautiful area of the Palmetto State that I’ve never been to before.

While pre-fishing for this event I lost a magnum spotted bass at the net—one I know would have been my personal best. I estimate that fish to be in the 22-inch range—a true monster spot. However, I did manage to land 19- and a 20-inch spotted bass in Tugaloo.

I started my search for largemouth in deep water because both air and water surface temps were crazy hot, but I quickly found that a lot of the big largemouth had deserted the depths for heavily-shaded shallows. After recognizing that, I spent all weekend in dense willow buckbrush. It’s amazing how shallow these fish will set up even in this heat!

My bait of choice, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to many, was a Brett’s Bluegill Z-Man Jack Hammer. I threw it around isolated buckbrush, and for the heavy thickets I used a 5-inch Z-Man Mag FattyZ in a California Craw pattern. These two lures continue to work for me in just about any conditions.

A couple of tips here:

  • Don’t be afraid to go shallow even in 90-degree water temps. You may be surprised at what you find.
  • Always visually check your photos after you upload. In the second TRAIL tournament, I accidentally submitted a second photo of a fish I’d submitted earlier in the day, and that cost me dearly. It is an angler’s responsibility to make sure all is correct with their submissions before the photo upload deadlines.

Here are pics of the two monster spots and my Cashion Rods big fish of the trip—a beautiful 22.25” largemouth that I caught in about 15 inches of water.

Big shout to Eric Nelson, my camping bud for the weekend, and to Kristine Fischer for toughing her way through a migraine headache to win the first Hartwell/Keowee TRAIL tournament on Saturday.

Thanks to all my great sponsors:

  • Ketch Products for supporting me and also sponsoring the KBF TRAIL Series Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Fishing Online: always my first stop before and after my tournaments.
  • YakAttack: lights, camera, action. Just add water. Best equipment on earth!
  • Cashion Rods: this ICON series is legit. Thanks for a great series of rods. They are the strength of my success as a Pro Kayak Angler.
  • Torqeedo Fishing:  making four mile runs to and from my spots would be nearly impossible without my Ultralight 403 AC.
  • Special thanks to all the fine folks at KBF for all the hard work that goes into putting on a great event like this.

Jody Queen

Our host for two back-to-back tournmants on beautiful lakes in South Carolina’s piedmont was Visit Clemson. The Mid-Atlantic KBF Trail is sponsored by Ketch Products Inc. The KBF Partner club that organized and supported bringing the event to their state is Palmetto State Kayak Bass Fishing Trail, with Barry Davis as Tournament Director.