Fishing in this year’s WON BASS Pro-Am Championship was exciting. The tournament (known as the “Western Classic”) is one of the West’s most high-profile events. WON BASS does a great job hosting and covering the event (from a media perspective) and 2011 was no exception.
This year the format and location was different. Day 1 was on Lake San Antonio and Day 2 was on Lake Naciamento; both lakes are located in Central Coast California.
I’ve never fished San Antonio; and Naciamento I only fished once (about 3 weeks earlier in a WON BASS Tri States Championship event). I don’t know a single sole in the Central Coast area so I relied completely on public information in my tournament preparations.
Thursday before the tournament I looked on Google Earth and Bing Maps and locate some good banks on San Antonio. I was able to see the best spot on the lake was likely to be a hump with a channel swing on the insider of it, off a main lake point near the dam. With winter fishing setting in, that was likely to be a community hole. I also located some other great looking pockets, rocky points with deep water access, and various banks with big rock combined with brushes.
With only one day to practice, I decided to only fish San Antonio.
Well this hump by the dam on San Antonio turned out to definitely be “community” as there was at least one boat on it all day during Friday’s practice so I ruled that out. (Oddly enough, the day 1 leading fish came from that spot but I never fished it...lol)
In the ice cold AM of practice, I caught a nice 3.5lb smallie dead sticking a jerkbait off one of the rocky points I located on the map. I didn’t even know the lake had smallmouth but I decided that was a viable pattern and rolled my hooks over the rest of the day and began just shaking fish off.
I also wormed around and shook off various fish on drop shots and stick worms. I heard on the water that if I could catch 3 or 4 fish on San Antonio that would be good due to an extremely tough bite.
At San Antonio, fish the rocky points with a dead sticked jerkbait and in the afternoon worm on banks of found afternoon fish on. Day 2, I was going to start all the way up Naciamento’s river system and work my waypoints back down trying to establish a pattern. I had located 10-12 schools of spotted bass on Naciamento weeks before so I knew I’d be catching fish but didn’t know what size or how the fish would have changed.
I ran to my rocky deep points and we boated numerous fish on the dead sticked Staysee 90 jerkbait. This is a classic winter smallmouth pattern and only gets better as the water gets colder. It only held up in the AM due to the water temps warming up over 55 degrees. I was all alone all morning long and catching fish! After 10am, I went to my worming areas and found 3 to 4 boats stacked on them. I was only able to catch one keeper fish on the worm and ended the day with only 4 fish but that put us in 5th place overall and we had 2nd place big fish. We maximized the water I had and got some of those morning bites to go my way so I was satisfied to be in 5th amongst some of the West’s best pros.
I ran to my last waypoint, way up the river. We caught a 2lber right away (on Lake Naciamento, a 2lber is GOLD) on a jig. I ran waypoints back down the lake never stopping for more than 15 mins or so. 3 waypoints down, we slammed 5 or 6 fish quickly but all small keepers. Another 3 waypoints down I got on a bluff bank next to a secondary point and decided to change my jig trailer from a “rabbit ears” style to a swimming twin tail grub. Two casts later I boated a 3.5lb spot which ended up being I believe the 2nd largest pro angler’s fish of the day. That trailer change was key and as the hours passed I boated a solid limit of 2lb spotted bass on that jig.
In the afternoon, I noticed the fish suspending more and more scattered out on the graph. We started fishing the stick baits super slow and ended up making two more big culls before weigh in.
I ended up with the 2nd largest bag of the day and finished the tournament in 3rd place overall.
I was just glad to be there and learn those lakes. I ended up rooming with a bunch of Northern Cal guys who ended up being some of the coolest guys I’ve been around. Great way to end the year. It doesn’t always end like this so I’ve learned to really cherish these moments when I’m fortunate enough to be in them.
“It’s all about attitude” – KVD
- Powell 703 Glass rod, Abu Garcia Revo STX 5.4:1 reel, 10lb Izorline mono, Lucky Craft Staysee 90 v.3 in Ghost Minnow
- Powell Endurance 6’10” med (6103) spinning rod, 5lb fluorocarbon line, Berkley Drop Shot Worm (Blue Crawler color) and a 5” stick worm with a 1/32oz Reins Tungsten Nail weight
- Powell 734 casting rod, Abu Garcia Revo Premier 6.3:1, 10lb Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon, custom-made D- It Molds jig in green pumpkin and orange skirt
- Powell Endurance 6’10” med (6103) spinning rod, 5lb fluorocarbon line, 5” stick worm with a 1/32oz nail weight