The 10-inch-long, black, plastic worms that Travis Glass and Chris Carpenter tossed into the murky waters of Dorena Lake last June could do no wrong.
Bass after bass came to the American Bass Association tournament anglers. And big ones. So many fat largemouths that not only was the ABA tournament well in hand, they had a chance to make Oregon history.
"We caught 25 fish that day and the smallest was four pounds," says Glass, 26, of Medford.
When it was over, the five biggest largemouth totaled a hair under 38 pounds, easily setting a new Oregon record for a five-fish limit caught in a tournament by a two-angler team.
"You just throw your hands up in the air and laugh about it," Glass says. "It was a freak day."
The freak show is back on the road for Glass and Carpenter, 51, of Grants Pass.
This bass-casting duo from smack-dab in the middle of salmon country is the three-time reigning Team of the Year for the ABA in Oregon, and they are on pace to make it four, winning the first two tournaments they fished together this year.
Forgive their fellow tournament anglers who keep sticking their noses into the pair's boat trying to figure out how the heck they keep on winning.
"People think we have a secret or a bunch of secret stuff," Carpenter says. "But the secret is, there is no secret. The stuff we're using is right off the shelves, and everybody else has the same access to the places we fish.
"You have to prepare mentally, equipment-wise, do your homework on the lakes," he says. "It's a matter of doing everything 10 percent harder."
That's the mantra Carpenter has preached to Glass since they first met in 2005 along the side of Interstate 5 near Cottage Grove, where they watched Glass's bass boat burn to the ground.
Both men were fishing with other partners in Oregon tournaments, which almost exclusively follow the two-angler format. Carpenter sensed Glass's excitement for the sport, and they joined forces in 2008 in the ABA, winning tournaments and sponsors along the way.
Glass says the pair's arsenal on the water is a common one: Swim baits, plastic worms, jigs and shallow-diving crank baits.
"Those are the go-to rods," Glass says.
In the spring, with water conditions cool and fish lethargic, the trick to this trade is to fish any of the baits slowly, Glass says.
"This time of year, you need to find the fish and stay on them," Glass says. "People often catch one fish and keep moving down the bank. They don't realize how many fish are under their boat."
The three tournaments so far this season have been at Tenmile Lakes near Reedsport, and they've improved their catches each time until their third tourney netted a five-bass limit of more than 27 pounds.
"That's a personal best at that lake," Glass says.
They will fish tournaments this weekend at Green Peter Reservoir near Sweet Home and then the following week at Fern Ridge Reservoir near Eugene.
The closest ABA tournament to the Rogue Valley is at Dorena Lake near Cottage Grove.
The pair will be back at Dorena to defend their title in June, certainly armed with plenty of 10-inch, black, plastic worms.
Glass doesn't believe the duo — or any twosome, for that matter — has much of a shot at eclipsing last year's record day.
"I don't think so," Glass says. "All the conditions were perfect. I think that was a fluke day that will never happen again."
But not so much for Carpenter.
"Anything could happen," Carpenter says. "In the state of Oregon, it would probably happen in the same place."
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email email@example.com.