Congratulations to Brandon McMillan!
Zoom Pro Brandon McMillan of Florida closed out a historically dominant season on the Bassmaster Southern Open trail with a win at Lake Seminole to earn the points title over fellow Floridian Trevor Fitzgerald.
McMillan finished 5th at the season-opener on Toho, 4th in the middle event on the Alabama River, and won on Seminole to wrap things up.
He’s no stranger to success at the top levels of the sport, with a 2011 FLW Tour win on Okeechobee and a 2012 Rayovac win on Seminole, but this most recent run shows that he’s “in the zone” and coming into his own as a top-flight pro. As a result of his win, he’ll fish the March 2016 Bassmaster Classic on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. The points title earns him an automatic invitation to the Bassmaster Elite Series.
McMillan’s Z-Craw Dominance
Brandon McMillan wrapped up the 2015 Bassmaster Southern Open points title not with a whimper, but rather with a bang, winning the title to beat all other contenders by a healthy margin. He’s been known around Florida as a top-notch grass flipper for years, but with his recent accomplishments he’s put the fishing world on notice that he’s a force to be reckoned with just about anywhere, no matter how stiff the level of competition.
His tool at Seminole was the Zoom Z-Craw in black sapphire. While McMillan is a huge fan of the Z-Hog and the Brush Hog Series, as well as the Speed Craw, he felt that the action of the Z-Craw was perfect for the 18 to 20 foot depths he targeted.
“It was all a reaction bite,” he said. “I wanted something compact but I didn’t want something like a tube and the claws kicked a little bit more than the Z-Hog.”
He fished in on a G.Loomis flipping stick, a Shimano Core reel, and 60 pound Gamma Braid. He said that he could have gotten more bites with fluorocarbon, but going that route caused him to feel “undermanned.” He might’ve gone down to 40 pound braid if he’d had it with him, but the 60 provides him with exceptional confidence. “I’ve never broken it.” That’s saying something coming from someone who regularly wrestles Florida’s biggest bass out of the heaviest cover around.
McMillan used both 1 ¼ and 1 ½ ounce tungsten weights and paired his black sapphire Z-Craw with the Mustad Max Punch Hook. “I’ve been fishing it for about a year now and it’s the perfect hook for that bait,” he said. “It’s got a big gap and beefier wire, so it won’t flex.”
McMillan Goes Simple on Colors
Bassmaster Classic qualifier and Southern Open points champ Brandon McMillan has plenty of tackle in his boat, but he doesn’t get weighed down with tons of options when the flipping bite is on his mind…and that’s just about always.
“I keep it simple,” he said. “Either green or black.”
Of course “green” could be green pumpkin or watermelon, with or without flake, and “black” might have a blue tint to it. For example, at his recent win on Lake Seminole he used a black sapphire Z-Craw to earn the victory, but he admitted that jet black would probably have been just as good.
“That’s pretty much what I do on a Florida lake,” he explained. While the field launched out of Georgia, a portion of Seminole is in the Sunshine State. “I know in the fall fish are supposed to be chasing balls of shad, but in Florida, they key on bluegill, and I think that’s what the black lure represents. The water’s so dark down there, I don’t really think it matters much.”
He said he’s studied the Zoom color chart religiously, but when it comes down to it, he tries “not to get caught up in all of that color stuff. I’m a pretty simple guy.”
Sometimes simple gets the job done.