Day on the Lake: Bryan New

Bryan New fishes a mystery lake during a cool December day.

6:41 a.m. It’s pitch dark, 33 degrees and windy when we arrive at Lake N’s deserted boat launch. New has driven all night to get here. “This is a brand-new boat, and I just finished rigging it yesterday afternoon,” he says as he pulls an arsenal of Fitzgerald rods paired with Abu Garcia reels from storage. “Today is going to be interesting! It was 75 degrees here on Christmas Day, it snowed last weekend, and a major winter storm is expected here tomorrow. My typical winter plan is to start off fairly shallow with a small crankbait or ChatterBait, then move deeper if I need to. I like to move around a lot and keep trying different things, so zip up that parka and let’s hit the water!”


7 a.m. We launch the Falcon. New checks the water: It’s 48 degrees and stained. He cranks the Merc, makes a scouting run halfway up the lake, then circles back to a main-lake point.

7:07 a.m. New makes his first casts of the day to the point with an Ozark craw Spro RkCrawler MD55 crankbait. “This is a deadly winter crankbait. It deflects off rocks beautifully and has great action even on a slow retrieve.” 

7:11 a.m. New cranks a concrete seawall. “These walls are good winter spots. There’s often deep water and rock around them, and they attract crawfish and shad.”

7:15 a.m. New slow rolls an umbrella rig equipped with multiple Zoom Z-Swim swimbaits near the seawall. (NOTE: Umbrella rigs are illegal in Elite Series competition but permissible on DOTL outings.) 

7:17 a.m. New switches to a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin Greenfish Tackle New Square Rubber (NSR) Jig with a matching Zoom Big Salty Chunk trailer. 

7:19 a.m. New casts the crankbait to a brushy secondary point and bags his first keeper largemouth of the day, 1 pound, 13 ounces. “Not huge, but it’s a start!”

7:22 a.m. New enters a shoreline pocket and tries a ghost Table Rock shad color Spro McStick 110 jerkbait. No takers here.

7:26 a.m. New cranks the MD55 on a mud flat, then stows his trolling motor. “I’m going to run way uplake to try to find some dirtier water.”

7:32 a.m. We’ve arrived at Lake N’s murkier upper end. New is checking out a 10-foot ditch adjacent to a culvert. He yo-yos a red craw Spro Aruku Shad lipless crankbait along the ditch and bags his second keeper, 1 pound even.

7:34 a.m. New switches to a 5/8-ounce green pumpkin Z-Man Big Blade ChatterBait bladed jig in the ditch.

7:40 a.m. New pitches the jig to the ditch, gets a tap and slams back his rod but misses the fish.

7:44 a.m. Back to the ChatterBait on a mudbank.

7:50 a.m. New rockets back downlake to try the umbrella rig around another seawall. It’s clouding up and the wind is howling out of the southeast.

7:56 a.m. New grinds the MD55 around a shallow dock.


8 a.m. New is moving upwind along a main-lake bank, alternating between the MD55, umbrella rig and jig as he encounters scattered docks, boat ramps and seawalls. “I’m not sure what this crazy weather will do to the bite. I reckon I’ll force-feed them if I have to!” Now there’s an interesting tactic!

8:11 a.m. New pitches the jig to a dock and jerks back his rod but hauls water. “Dang, that fish hit right when I went to pull the hood of my rainsuit up!”

8:18 a.m. The crankbait hangs up momentarily. New rips it free; it comes back with a snarl of old fishing line and a rusty spinnerbait attached. “Now we know what the locals are throwing!”

8:24 a.m. New continues pressing downlake, this time with the jerkbait. “Water conditions are ideal for jerkbaits, but I tend to have more confidence cranking.”

8:29 a.m. “I need to get something going!” New says as he enters a shallow cove and chunks the crankbait to a dock.

8:35 a.m. The cove contains multiple private boat ramps, which New is pounding with the crankbait and jig. 

8:41 a.m. New switches to a shad-colored flat-sided crankbait, brand unknown, around docks and residential ramps. 

8:50 a.m. New idles out of the cove and moves to an offshore rockpile. He casts the umbrella rig to the structure; it hangs up and he retrieves it. 


9 a.m. New roots the flat-sided crankbait across the rockpile.

9:11 a.m. New switches to a 3/8-ounce green pumpkin Greenfish Tackle Bad Little Dude (BLD) finesse jig with a matching Zoom Z-Craw trailer. “I originally designed this jig for spotted bass, but it also works great for largemouth in tough conditions, which we’ve obviously got today!” He pitches the jig to the rockpile and hops it down the side. 

9:13 a.m. New bags his third keeper, 1 pound, off the rockpile on the finesse jig. “I’m inching my way toward a 5-pound limit!”

9:18 a.m. New vacates the rockpile and idles to another main-lake bank with multiple docks. Here, he bags a short fish off a boathouse on the flat crankbait.

9:20 a.m. New moves to a point at the entrance to a large cove and catches another shortie on the flat crank.

9:22 a.m. New moves into the cove and jerks the McStick over a submerged brushpile.

9:24 a.m. He pitches the half-ounce jig inside a boathouse. Nothing there.

9:26 a.m. New speed trolls across the cove to fish docks on the opposite shore with the finesse jig and umbrella rig. 

9:31 a.m. New catches a tiny bass off a dock on the flat crank. “They’re supposed to be getting bigger, not smaller!”

9:33 a.m. New graphs several fish suspending over a brushpile in 13 feet of water. He hits them with the jerkbait and finesse jig without success.

9:40 a.m. New cranks a chunk rock bank with the MD55. “I can’t believe they aren’t on rock; that’s prime crawfish habitat!”

9:46 a.m. New idles to a shallow cove with a rock retaining wall and bags keeper No. 4, 1 pound, 2 ounces. 

9:51 a.m. New tries a 1/2-ounce white Greenfish Tackle spinnerbait with one willow blade in the cove. After a couple of casts he announces, “I need to hit that ditch in the upper end again. Better zip that parka back up.” Oh, great!


10:06 a.m. New is cranking the uplake ditch with the flat-sided bait. “I don’t feel I fished this spot right when I was up here earlier. I got hung up in fishing line and was right on top of the ditch when I should have hit it with a stealthier approach.” 

10:12 a.m. New notices some current emitting from the culvert. He pitches the finesse jig into the flow and tangles it in gnarly catfish line. “This must be a community fishing hole!”

10:23 a.m. New bags his fifth keeper, 1-1, off the ditch on the MD55. What’s his take on the day so far? “I’ve tried to sample some of everything this lake has to offer in the way of structure and cover and have caught several fish, but nothing big so far. I don’t have a contour map of the lake, so I haven’t ventured offshore too much. My gut tells me the recent weather fluctuations in this area have hit these fish pretty hard, so I need to be slow and thorough with my presentations. I’m going to stay with my shallow game plan a while longer; the water’s not that cold, and I’m confident there should be some good fish in the areas I’ve been keying on.”

10:28 a.m. New casts the jerkbait around the ditch. He reels it down, jerks it and a bass bumps it but doesn’t hook up.

10:33 a.m. New hangs the MD55 in yet another wad of fishing line. He drops his plug knocker; it comes back with both his crankbait and someone’s mud-encrusted deep diver. “This place is borderline too frustrating to fish!”

10:37 a.m. New pitches the finesse jig into the culvert. 

10:40 a.m. He moves to an adjacent mudbank and tries the ChatterBait.

10:49 a.m. New has barreled back downlake to a chunk rock bank, where he cranks the MD55.

10:55 a.m. New tries a rusty craw color Spro Little John MD crankbait on the rockpile. “This plug has flatter sides than the RkCrawler MD55, and I like its subtle craw color in this clearer water.”


11 a.m. New moves to a nearby marina and methodically pitches the finesse jig to boat slips. “The sun is back out now and hopefully some big fish have moved under these slips for shade.”

11:16 a.m. The marina doesn’t pan out. New spots a few fish suspending nearby in open water on his electronics but can’t tempt them with the jerkbait.

11:20 a.m. New idles to a nearby rock shelf and casts the Little John and jerkbait to the structure. 

11:26 a.m. The wind is howling out of the northwest as New probes the shelf with the finesse jig. 

11:30 a.m. New moves to a seawall near Lake N’s dam and catches his sixth keeper, 1 pound, 3 ounces, on the Little John MD. “The water temp’s 50 degrees here. In winter, even two degrees can make a huge difference.”

11:39 a.m. He tries the RkCrawler on the seawall.

11:43 a.m. New retrieves the umbrella rig around an overflow structure near the dam. 

11:50 a.m. New grinds the RkCrawler across dam riprap.


Noon. New races back uplake to a channel bank he fished earlier. He switches jerkbait colors to chartreuse shad and tries the new hue around a dock. Nothing here.

12:07 p.m. He cranks the Little John MD around a boat ramp. “Crawfish and minnows hang around these little private ramps; they’re usually good in winter.” But today? Not so much.

12:17 p.m. New bags his seventh keeper, 1-7, off a dock on the finesse jig.

12:25 p.m. New cranks the Little John MD parallel to a seawall. 

12:34 p.m. New moves into a cove he fished earlier and roots the generic flat crankbait around a dock.

12:39 p.m. He moves to the back of the cove and tries the spinnerbait and ChatterBait around several more docks.

12:45 p.m. New runs to a main-lake point and cranks the Little John MD. Again, no takers. “They’re just not on points today.”

12:56 p.m. New races to a bank with several laydowns and tries the spinnerbait, Little John MD and finesse jig without success. “They’re not on laydowns either!”


1:02 p.m. New races into another residential cove and catches a nonkeeper off a dock on the finesse jig.

1:04 p.m. He bags his eighth keeper, 1 pound, off another dock on the finesse jig.

1:12 p.m. New catches keeper No. 9, 1-1, off a dock on the finesse jig. “Seems like these fish are starting to wake up, and I need a big one bad.”

1:19 p.m. New moves across the cove to hit a brushy bank with the ChatterBait.

1:24 p.m. New moves into a smaller cove and roots the generic flat-sided crankbait around a dock.

1:31 p.m. New bags his 10th keeper, 2 pounds,
2 ounces, off a dock on the finesse jig. “Well, I wanted a bigger fish, and I got one!”

1:37 p.m. New’s time is running out. He races to a 50-yard stretch of main-lake docks and pitches the finesse jig.

1:44 p.m. He bags short fish on two consecutive casts on the generic flat crank.

1:52 p.m. New zips back to the rockpile he fished earlier and tries the finesse jig.

2 p.m. Time’s up! New has worked hard on Lake N to come up with 10 keeper bass. His five best fish weigh 7 pounds, 11 ounces.


“The bite really started picking up in my last hour, but I ran out of time,” New told Bassmaster. “Being smack in between two big frontal passages didn’t help any, either. I was a bit surprised that more fish weren’t on typical wintertime stuff like deep main-lake points, rocks and boat ramps; instead, I caught most of my best keepers off seawalls and docks. If I were to fish here again under these same conditions, I might move out a little farther and spend more time throwing a jerkbait.”

When New won his very first Elite Series tournament at the St. Johns River, avid Bassmaster fans were probably wondering, “Who the heck is this guy?” Although New was new to the Elite Series, he wasn’t new to professional angling. The lanky South Carolinian had previously pocketed nearly $400,000 on the FLW tour (much of it as a co-angler!) before joining the Elites. In 2021, B.A.S.S. added a “newcomer” classification to designate first-time or returning Elite pros (like Mike Iaconelli) who had previously won $500,000 or more on those “other” tours. That financial bar technically made New a rookie, in spite of the fact that he’s been picking the pockets of his competition for years. Here’s what happened when we challenged this “veteran rookie” to unlock the secrets of a mystery lake on a blustery winter day.


1) 1 pound, 13 ounces; Ozark craw Spro RkCrawler MD55 crankbait; secondary point with brush; 7:19 a.m.
2) 1 pound, 2 ounces; same lure as No. 1; seawall; 9:46 a.m.
3) 1 pound, 3 ounces; rusty craw Spro Little John MD crankbait; seawall; 11:30 a.m.
4) 1 pound, 7 ounces; 3/8-ounce green pumpkin Greenfish Tackle BLD finesse jig with matching Zoom Z-Craw trailer; dock; 12:17 p.m.
5) 2 pounds, 2 ounces: same lure as No. 4; dock; 1:31p.m.