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9885 posts
May 3, 2008
Water: 63-70
Clarity: 4-8'
Level: 759.05
Wind: 0-5
WON Team Tourney
I practiced Friday for the WON Sunday. I was hoping to find a few bed fish. What is rather amazing is that the lake went from having zero bed fish at the last WON on March 8 to having almost zero bed fish at this tournament May 3rd. In other words, 99.9% of the bass in that lake spawned in less than 2 months. Weird.

So the water was 63 in the morning and got up to 70-72 both days in the afternoon. It was hot and calm both days, although Saturday was mid 40's with some fog in the AM. Clarity was decent. Friday had more algae than Saturday due to the brighter sunshine Friday.

Friday I checked the whole lake for beds, finding a handful of smallies that were easily catchable, and 7 or 8 largemouth that were relating to spots but not on beds per se. All the largemouth were nice ones though, like 3-5lbers. It was strange. I didn't make any casts on those fish.

I ripped one 3.3lb black on a jerkbait Friday and had a few swimbait followers. I can't figure out the right swimbait for that lake though. Everything I throw they chase and don't eat. Very annoying.

Saturday I went to a spot where I had seen a 6lb largemouth sitting on top of a rock on Friday. There was a boat on the spot. I fished right next door on a point that had some shad on it. Had two quick bites on jerkbait but neither one stuck, they felt small. Watched the guys on my starting spot catch a nice largemouth.

The smallmouth on beds were nearby so I went there. I made a blind cast to a spot where I'd seen a 5lb largemouth the day before. The line swam off. I set and thought life was about to get really good. Instead it was a 2lb smallmouth. Weird? I had seen what I thought was the male there the day before but I guess it was a smallmouth male with a largemouth female.

Next fish I made a few casts blind then got closer to take a look. I saw the fish flash once, switched lures and caught it on the next cast. 2.5lb smallie. A bit later I ripped another keeper smallie on a jerkbait. 3 fish in the first 35 minutes seemed like a good start.

The rest of the day was not so good though... I checked all the largemouth from the day before and not one single one was still there. That was a weird deal. Then I went back to my starting spot, starting about 200 yards down. I worked my way up to the spot and noticed another boat coming at the spot from the other direction. I got to the spot first and made 2 casts across it.

I figured the guys in the other boat would leave or go around. Instead they just started casting right on top of where I was casting. It was in all honesty the most BS move I've ever seen in a tournament. I was pretty ticked. Rather than get in to a shouting match - I left. Not my style to fight with people on the water.

200 feet down the bank I turn around and they stick a 3lber off the spot. Guess I got hosed. I hooked up on a ripbait a few casts later with a largemouth I had seen the day before that was sitting by a bush. Unfortunately my cast was over the bush (it was a long cast and I couldn't see the bush). The fish went straight in to the bush and came off.

For my encore I changed spots, hooked a keeper smallmouth on the ripbait and got it fouled up in the net and lost it too. I was on a roll with the retardation....

At the end of the day I went back to my starting spot again. I was hoping like heck to get a crack at it. Of course there was a boat on it again, and I watched them get one that was pushing 5lbs. They were yelling and high fiving like they had just won the Bassmasters Classic. I had a smallmouth blow up on a spook and miss the bait.

Weighed 5lbs for 3 fish and came in near to last place. I had the right spot today but just never got to fish it. That's tournament fishing.

9885 posts
April 26, 2008
Water: 67-69
Clarity: 6-7
Level: 1,300.49
Wind: 0-10
Margarita Post Spawn Fishing
Headed to Margarita Saturday for some fun fishing. Slept in and didn't get on the water until 9:45am. It was hot and calm. By the time I launched though a 5knt type wind was blowing, which continued on and off for the rest of the day. The water is 6-7 foot vis in most places and whiskey colored. Temps were 67-69 degrees.

I thought there would be a lot of bed fish but the lake felt very post spawn. Fry balls were present in most of the coves, and there were a lot of 5-7lb females that were set up on areas that indicated they were on their way back out to the lake. You'd see them, get one cast, and they'd leave - that sort of thing.

There was a tournament going, I think Angler's Choice. So the lake was crowded. I fished until about 5pm. Along the way I picked up two small keepers on beds, one 3lb fry guard, one 3lb drop shot fish, one about 7 on a swimbait, and a trout on a drop shot. Missed two 4's on swimbaits as well, they just didn't get their little mouths around the bait and both of them fell off after about 2 cranks.

So it was a nice day on the water. The fishing wasn't very solid, but there were some bites to be had at least. There's a lot of shad up now, and the lake looks healthy. I hope to get a few topwater trips in soon :)

9885 posts
April 18, 2008
Water: 47
Clarity: 8-10
Wind: 15+
3/4 Day Charter
On Friday I took a charter group of 23 anglers out on the Stardust for a 3/4 day run to the islands for rockfish. We opted for a late departure of 8am since most folks were coming from San Luis Obispo.

The weather was chilly, with a 5-10knt wind in the morning and some lump for the first few miles out of the harbor. The swell calmed down further out, but we had quite a bit of wind during the day.

We scoped some areas on the west end of Santa Cruz and got a great look at the island up close before heading across to carrington (I think) to fish. We fished from 95 to 250' of water and had steady action, with the best flurries coming at the beginning and end of the day.

The majority of folks on the trip had never fished before, so catching could have been a little higher, but we still put together some nice bags of coppers and reds. There were the occasional gopher cod, blue rockfish, undersize ling, and sand dab brought in as well. Big fish was a just legal ling, with several large reds in the 4-5lb class also making a showing.

I had good success with a 4oz jig (copper and orange color). Sardines were also working well. Summer and I came home with limits of nice quality cod. The weather could have been a little smoother, but we had a great group and the fishing was pretty solid. Jason and the crew do such a great job out there, it's hard to have a bad time :) I may have some photos to add later, haven't gotten them yet.

2 posts
April 16, 2008
Water: warming up
Clarity: 6 ft.
Wind: little to none
Caught 2 bass just fishing from the bank. One on a pink seinko. I made a bad hookset and he got off. Good sized, probably a couple pounds. Caught the second on a white spinner bait. Probably 2-3 pound football. Its looking good with all the submerged trees!

9885 posts
April 10, 2008
Water: 55-65
Clarity: 2-12 feet
Level: 6.96
Wind: 0-15
WON Clear Lake Pro/Am
Wednesday afternoon I headed up to Clear Lake for the WON Bass Pro/Am. Mark (SWMB8R) very graciously lent me his Basscat to fish the event. As exciting as it might have been to fish in my 15' jon boat, WON rules don't permit it ... and Clear Lake is kind of big :)

So off I went, and 50 miles later I had a flat tire by King City. Kind of had to laugh at that one. 3 hours and a new tire later I was back in action, arriving at State Park by 11:30pm. Crashed out. Woke up before sunrise Thursday and went to Konocti Harbor to launch. Turned out I couldn't get a quagga mussel inspection until 9am so I went to Tackle It in Lakeport and finally got on the water back at Konocti by 8:30am.

The first day of practice went well. There was a cold north wind in the morning which laid down to calm conditions by afternoon. I put an 8lber in the boat first thing and shook off two fish that were 6-7lbs on swimbaits. I was doing some testing with the new 7'11" telescoping Okuma swimbait rod. It felt good - watch for this one. Went looking in the afternoon and caught a couple cruising fish, seeing just a handful of males on beds.

Friday I explored new places (to me) on Clear Lake. It was hot and calm. Fishing was really tough for me. I tried a variety of techniques for no bites. I did scope out a dozen or so males that were up on beds and looking more catchable, but no females. Most people seemed to think fishing was going to be tough.

Tournament day came Saturday. My AAA was Patrick Mateo. This was his first tournament. I figured we made a good team since this was my first Pro/Am. Patrick had a good positive attitude. I told him we would swimbait and sight fish as needed.

I was surprised to get on my first spot in the morning, and we got some good casts on it. Then a boat pulled up and the guy moved right on top of what I was casting to. That's tournament fishing. He caught two small ones. We moved around to the outside and Patrick put a keeper in the boat. Good feeling to get that first fish.

We changed areas and I had a hit on a swimbait but it seemed small. I pointed and told Patrick to cast right on the spot. The fish ate instantly and we had another 2lber in the boat. Cool. I had some nice follows, and one 10lber that came up and half-way nipped the tail of my bait but didn't eat. The sun came up and it got HOT.

So off we went to sight fishing land. More bass had moved up overnight and I proceeded catching them on finesse junk with 10lb test. This was the program for the rest of the day, catching males that were spawning and cruising. I did around a dozen fish like this, culling up to a bag of fish that were all around 3lbs. I did jump off one 4lber but it was on the light line over the top of a tully berm so there was not much that could have been done. We weighed in 15.23lbs and sat in 44th place.

I was surprised at the low weights, but pleased to see that I was at least in striking distance of a check. I had no real plan for day 2 other than to stick with my strengths in swimbait and sight fishing and see what the conditions held.

My draw for day 2 was Robert (Jerry) Graff. Jerry has done this for a while and told me to just go and do my thing and not worry about him. We started with swimbait stuff, and again I had the followers up to 10lbs but I sensed it was not right and that I was not going to be putting any of these bass in the livewell.

We went to my sight fish water and immediately started getting fish, putting 5 in the boat by around 8:30am. I was stunned to see some of the 3lb males that I had seen on Thursday were still there and had not been caught despite boats being all around. I guess people were not fishing for them. Around 11am I decided it was time to gamble and ran to all new water.

Fortunately I found good clarity up to 12 feet, and right away started to see some females on beds (finally). Located 3 fish that were 6-9lbs but none were catchable. We moved often and continued to cull. I put a 5lb male in the boat, along with some mid 3lb type fish. In the afternoon I went back to one of the 6's that looked good. A boat was right on it, but amazingly they moved off and left. I pulled in, worked the fish, and caught it on a 5" Big Hammer. It was a bit over 6lbs. That was a nice cull.

We had some sketchy moments at the end of the day because I had accidentally kicked on the freshwater in pump with my foot and ran down the cranking battery. Jerry knew boats (thank goodness) and re-wired it so we could get it going. We thought it was cool but had a little more trouble right before heading in. We were 15 miles from the ramp and I was getting nervous with a nice limit in the boat!

I hailed a guy who was fishing nearby. He and Jerry talked it over and got it working. Stoked. Thanks Sean Minderman wherever you are. I put the hammer down and we made it back in time, weighing in 19.70lbs. I finished in 23rd place and took a small check. My day one AAA Patrick drew Wayne Breazeale on day two and they had 30lbs. He wound up winning on the AAA side :) Very cool.

There was a lot of learning going on for me during these 4 days. I learned how to handle the boat, change a tire on a tandem axle trailer, re-wire a cranking battery, and about 20 other things that will be invaluable later on. Being used to my little boat, it was exhilarating to be able to move around the lake at high speeds and really change gears during the day.

I was also fortunate to have great AAA draws both days who put up with all of my sight fishing and really encouraged and supported me. Jerry held the boat for me while I caught the 6lber on day 2, and he put a nice 3lber in the boat by blind casting a nearby bed while I worked a different fish. I'm also fortunate to have a friend like Mark who was willing to lend his boat to a guy who has only driven a bass boat a handful of times before. I owe you one bud.

It'll be a while still before I get a bass boat, but I'll be back on the Pro/Am scene when the time comes. It was fun, challenging, and exciting.

9885 posts
April 5, 2008
Water: 61
Clarity: 3-5'
Level: 508.22
Wind: 5-20
WON Bass Lopez
Mark Rogers and I fished the WON Bass Lopez team tournament on Saturday. It was very windy, blowing offshore in the morning (and cold). This let up mid-day, then switched to on-shore to 15+ in the afternoon. Water temps were in the low 60's.

The basic plan for the day was to get a limit on beds and throw swimbait for better fish. I had practiced the day before and seen perhaps 50 fish on beds with many more cruising around.

We followed a parade of boats to the back of wittenberg in hopes of bed fishing but it was much too windy. With the wind and stirred up water, we threw swimbaits for nothing for a while, then back to the bank to look. This was the procedure for the rest of the day.

Swimbait fishing turned out to be worthless for us, but several of the better size fish I had seen the day before were still around and wanted to be caught. They were hard to see, but we put 5 of those in the boat - foul hooking and releasing one other one on a drop shot. All the fish were males. I also hooked about a 3lb crappie on a bed thinking it was a bass.

The fish didn't seem that big going in the boat but in the end we weighed 18.95 for the 5 fish with a big fish at 5.15lbs and took 3rd place :) All of the fish we weighed were caught on 5" Big Hammers in the #40 Invader color. It was a good day in terms of execution because we only hooked those 5 bass and they all came to weigh in. We worked a half dozen other fish that wouldn't bite including one that would have meant 2nd place, but that's OK - you can't catch them all.

This will probably be my last Lopez trip for a good long while as we are moving in August and Santa Margarita is closer to the house. Lopez is a fun lake, but definitely a windy one. Thanks Mark for making the drive up to fish. It was a fun day.

Sacto John
1105 posts
March 1, 2008
Folsom Sunday 3-30-08
Went out Sunday to Folsom to fish for a few hours. The plan was to throw swimbaits all day and see if I could get a nice fish. On the water at 7:00, just in time to see all the boats blast off for the ABA tourney. I point jumped as much as I could, the ABA guys were on a lot of the stuff I wanted to fish. At 10:30 or so after breaking off a swimbait and drifting to the back of a cove, I decided I wanted to at least catch a fish. I tied on a c-rig lizard and went a dragg'n. To my defense I have had a pretty crummy year so far, I have been fishing 5 times before this trip and have only caught 5 fish (4 fish came last Monday out on the Delta) none bigger than 3.8. Within minutes of "giving in"I hook up with a nice chunky 2.4 spot, a minute later another 1.3, then a rat, then another rat, then a 2.2. in the period of about 20 minutes I have landed just as many fish as I had all year up tho that point. I moved to the back of the next cove and started dragging again. I am watching the meter trying to keep the boat in 15-20 feet, and I see a nice arch on the graph and I think to myself if that is a fish it is a good one, About a minute later when my bait is over the spot I saw the arch, I get bit, set and its a good one. The fish comes out of the water and I about freak, its at least 8 pounds. I fight the fish all the way to the boat and it jumps one last time surges and POP the line breaks at the swivel. I fished until noon catching a few more spots, although I did not weigh them as none of them were as big as the fish I caught earlier. Lesson learned; when dragging a C-Rig check your knots often. At least I caught a few fish.

Ken A
491 posts
March 21, 2008
Water: 57
Clarity: 6'
Level: 100%
Wind: 10-15
Santa Margarita, 3/21
My first Friday off for a while so headed up to Santa Margatita.
Lake level it topped off from the winter rains. Water temp was about 57* with a visabliliy of about 6' in some areas. A calm morning but the wind picked up pretty early and blew hard. I caught 4 average sized Margarita fish on a drop shot. Lots of boats and campers with Spring break and Easter weekend.

9885 posts
January 26, 2008
HBC - The Report
My day started at 2:48am Friday morning. My alarm was set for 2:50 but for some reason I had a dream where I heard a doorbell and woke up out of a dead sleep. I guess my brain knew it was just about time to get up and go fish! The drive to the lake kept me on my toes with heavy rain squalls and two rock slides to dodge on 33.

I got checked in and found CV. Took some time to chat it up with old friends and acquaintances. My observer for the day was John Wheat, a local fisherman. CV ate 4 eggs with toast while we bs'd and waited for the rules meeting :)

The sound of the rain on the metal roof of the bait shop during the meeting was like an ominous drum roll. I think it was Lake Casitas' way of saying - if you want these big bass, you're going to have to earn them. Ken Huddleston gave a heart felt speech about his dream for the event, which was met with a warm round of applause.

I was boat 8 out. I told Urban we should have a race, but I think he had me beat with his 25hp motor. If there was a prize for smallest boat in the field, I'm sure I would have won. I had a spot that I was very much hoping to get on in the morning, and felt I had decent odds being boat 8. I knew the first 10 minutes of the tournament would be critical (as they later turned out to be).

When I pulled up, someone was on it - pretty sure it was Butch. I expected that the good spots would all be covered up immediately in this tournament, and frankly I was not disappointed. The talent in the field was so great that people were all over the good areas all day. I hung on a nearby spot and waited. The spot cleared out and before I could move over to it, another boat pulled up and hit it perfectly again.

About this time the wind kicked up. For the rest of the day we would have 10-30mph winds, with rain squalls tearing across the lake. It's really something when you can hear a squall coming before it hits :) I battled it out, fishing deep with the stocker trout and 10" mattlures and up shallow with slammer and triple trout. My key spots were all covered up by other guys, but I got my shots in when the spots opened up. I also spent a lot of time in the brush looking for the random 5-8lb bite.

John was great, encouraging and professional. I know it as killing him to be on the water and not able to fish, or help me out. My boat is very wet in the chop, and we got thrashed pretty good coming across the open fetches of the lake. He never complained.

My battery is going on 2+ years and needs replacement but it wasn't the in the budget. Nonetheless, the Trojan SCS-225 held out until noon before dying. I went to my backup 12v graph battery to keep me going until the last cast. I couldn't hold on the open lake, but I was able to fish a lot of good water during the day.

In the end I never got bit, bumped, or followed. I did spend about 20 minutes with a 7" senko, but it as 95% swimbait for me. I won't be able to fish the July 11 Clear Lake event, so there was no point in trying to catch a small one for qualifying purposes.

Looking back at the day, I have no regrets. I cycled through the key areas as often as I could, fishing percentage baits on the key casts. I didn't cave and go hide out of the wind, or panic and start jumping random points. A new battery might have helped some, but overall my gear held up and the boat did the best it could for a 15 footer in tough condition.

At the end of the day I hung out and talked it up with more old friends and acquaintances. I kept trying to leave, and then kept running in to more people I wanted to talk to lol. Getting to see everyone really took the edge off a tough day of fishing. On the drive home I talked to Lake, Mark Rogers, Nico, and Matt Peters. It took 3 hours and 45 minutes to get to Atascadero, with horrible traffic by Gaviota, but Matt kept me awake and driving between the lines. Thanks bro.

I would rate the event as a big success. For trophy guys, for the organizers, and for the sport in general. The observers in particular deserve a huge thanks for adding legitimacy to the event and ensuring fairness. This tournament felt a lot more like an FLW Pro-Am than a team tournament as far as the overall quality of the competition and feel of excitement in the air. I, for one, will be be back.

All photos by John Wheat

Ron Cervenka addressing the anglers

Ken Huddleston

Cris Vanclef

Checking the boat, Don Moorman left and Leroy right


Battling the wind

9885 posts
January 20, 2008
Water: 57-58.5
Clarity: 3-6 feet
Wind: 0-8
Last Day of HBC Practice
I took the boat down at the last minute Sunday to Casitas. I've been sick and wasn't sure if I would make it. The lot was crowded, I stopped counting at 60 trailers in the main lot and there were at least 20 more over at the Coyote ramp. ABA tournament and just a lot of people fishing.

Water was dingier than a few weeks ago. 3-6 foot visibility with a lot of "stuff" in the water. Green color. Temps were 57-58 degrees, occasionally 58.5 in the afternoon. I made my first cast at 10am, the conditions were flat calm with clear skies. Breeze came up around 10:45am and it was around 5mph winds for the rest of the day.

10 minutes in to the day I got cracked by a 5lber on on the 9" MS Slammer. I wasn't watching the lure but turned in time to watch the fish twist and come off. That was a decent start. I mixed it up moving shallow to deep and trying to locate any kind of pattern or concentration.

During the rest of the day I had two follows and saw one other fish. One follow on the Slammer was about 12lbs. The other one was on Triple Trout and would have gone 7 or so. The only fish I actually eyeballed up shallow was about 10, it was just cruising.

No shad are up now. There's birds around the lake but they don't look like they are really on anything. I could see the shad coming up or down any time but with rain now and more rain forecast it will not be obvious where the bait is visually.

My prediction for the tournament is that a 9lber will take it. 6lber will get you top 5. Half the field will blank give or take. It will depend how many guys bring spinning rods to just get bit and catch a fish. My gear is already rigged for Friday. 6 swimbait rods that go like this:

Okuma 7'11"XH - CTE400 - 25 Triple Fish - 10" Stocker Trout
Rainshadow SW967 - CTE400 - 25 Triple Fish - 10" Triple Trout
Okuma 7'11"H - CTE 300 - 25 Triple Fish - 9" MS Slammer
Calstar 900L - Calcutta 400 - 25 Triple Fish - 10" Mattlures Trout (proto)
Whitmer Downwrap XXXH - Curado 300 - 50 Bully Braid - Lunker Punker
Rainshadow SW967 - CTE400 - 25 Triple Fish - Rago Live Trout Softbait

That's the deal. My expectation is for 1-3 bites on the day. If one of them sticks and goes in the net, I'll be happy. Winning will all come down to whether it's the right bite or not.

Copyright © Robert Belloni 1997-2012. All Rights Reserved.
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