Eugene Kim of Lindenhurst, Illinois caught 16-0 to top a talent-stacked field of 135 competitors in the Co-Angler division at the recent 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Chesapeake Bay. In addition to valuable Open Series points and a significant cash prize, Kim took home $500 in St. Croix Rewards for winning the event while fishing St. Croix Rods.

“I have fished St. Croix rods exclusively for my entire eight-year tournament career and throughout 25 years of fun fishing before I began fishing competitively,” Kim says. “The Best Rods on Earth have definitely been a key to my success.”

Kim caught 8-2 on Day 1 of the Bassmaster Open at Chesapeake Bay, fishing shallow, tide-flooded grass flats and humps with a Texas-rigged worm. “I was fishing a light, 3/16-ounce weight and a finesse worm in four-to-six-feet of water,” he says. “They wanted that slender profile and slow fall.”

Kim says he favors St. Croix’s Legend Elite Series rods for their extreme sensitivity and full-cork handles. “They’re just my very favorite rods, and the EC71MHXF was the perfect tool for the job on Day 1,” ads Kim, who says he switched to a chatterbait later in the day. “I also had success with a green pumpkin and with Z-Man Jackhammer Chatterbait with a Yamamoto Zako trailer. I love the St. Croix Legend Glass 7’4” medium-heavy (LGC74MHM), especially around grass. It’s just the perfect chatterbait rod.”

Kim started Day 2 in 5th place riding a tide of optimism, which quickly ebbed when his new boater decided to fish an entirely different pattern, opting to target bankside laydowns.

“One thing you learn as a co-angler to adapt, so that’s what I did,” Kim says. “And it worked out okay. I picked up a Legend Tournament Bass rod rigged with a prototype spinnerbait and ended up catching 7-14 – which turned out to be just enough to win the tournament.”

The spinnerbait was one of the most-recent designs from Convergence Tournament Tackle, a company Kim started a few years ago with his good friend, Frank Williams. He fished the chartreuse and white lure with downsized, gold, willow leaf blades with a pearl white Strike King Caffein Shad trailer.

B.A.S.S. Photo

At the Day-2 weigh in, Kim edged out Ryan Bauman to win the Bassmaster Open event Co-Angler division by a single ounce.

“It’s my first year fishing the Bassmaster Opens, so winning an event – especially one at a location I’d never fished before – just feels so good,” Kim says. “I committed to fishing the Opens this year to take myself out of my comfort zone a bit and fish some new waters and try to become a better angler. It’s been an amazing experience. B.A.S.S. does a wonderful job, and I’m also grateful to St. Croix – not only for making rods that help give me the upper hand on the water, but also for sponsoring this year’s Bassmaster Opens and for offering St. Croix anglers like me the opportunity to win St. Croix Rewards. St. Croix has always been a cornerstone of my fishing, and all of this just proves that out.”

After earning success on other tournament trails in addition to the Opens, Kim says he plans to move to the front of the boat next season. “I’m excited to be taking delivery of a new Phoenix 920 Elite early next year and am looking forward to competing in the Basssmaster Opens as a Pro Angler.”

St. Croix Rod wants to remind both pro and co-anglers competing in any Bassmaster Opens Series event that they can win cash St. Croix Rewards by fishing with St. Croix Rods.

The St. Croix Rod Rewards Program pays an extra $1,000 to any registered* pro angler who wins a St. Croix Bassmaster Open tournament fishing St. Croix rods, or $500 to the highest-finishing registered top-10 pro angler fishing St. Croix rods.

Similarly, the program awards an extra $500 to any registered* co-angler who wins a St. Croix Bassmaster Open tournament fishing St. Croix rods, or $250 to the highest-finishing registered top-10 co-angler fishing St. Croix rods.

*Anglers must register via QR code at pre-tournament registration held by B.A.S.S. prior to the event.

The next 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Open event is the Central Open at Red River presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, September 22-24. Click here for complete registration and schedule details for all 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens events.