Story provided by B.A.S.S. Communications

Despite changing conditions, Ohio angler Whitney Stephens turned in an impressive catch of five bass that weighed 24 pounds, 12 ounces in the final round of the 2019 Basspro.com Eastern Open at Harris Chain of Lakes. Added to his Friday weight of 32-12, it helped Stephens to an impressive winning total of 57-8 in an event that was shortened to two days by inclement weather.

The full field fished both days.

The shortened schedule amplified Stephens’ performance; specifically, Jesse Wiggins won the 2017 Open event on the Harris Chain with a three-day total of 59-4 — only 1-12 heavier than Stephens’ two-day total.

Returning to the pattern that yielded his personal-best tournament limit on Day 1, Stephens spent all of Day 2 targeting thick hydrilla beds in Lake Eustis. Fishing in about 8 to 10 feet, he noted that the week’s colder weather worked in his favor by predictably positioning big prespawn fish in the warmer refuges of thicker grass patches.

Stephens caught most of his fish by dragging a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm and a Speed Worm, both Texas rigged on a 4/0 VMC hook. He ended his day by moving to a different area and throwing a custom spinnerbait over the grass.

“I had a 7- to 8-pound cull on my last stop,” Stephens said. “I had high teens and I went to 24 on my last stop. It was just incredible.”