Media Day at Pardee Lake in Ione California
Following an invite from Kent Brown the host of Ultimate Bass Radio I drag myself out of bed at 3AM Saturday morning, grab a coffee and head to the lake. On the drive I’m thinking how nice it would be to catch a giant smallmouth. I’ve never landed one over five before.
At 5:30; I arrive at the Pardee coffee shop to Kent performing his weekly radio show a free breakfast with eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon and coffee just right before a day of fishing. There were representatives from most all the local media sources; Bass Angler Magazine, Western Bass, Tackle Tour, Fish Sniffer along with Jody Only and several other writers. I made quick work of breakfast and hang close to Kent in case he needed to fill some air time, low and behold Kent said come on over. Never missing an opportunity to promote the magazine I eagerly chat with Kent for a few minutes. After the radio was finished Kent paired writers and anglers together. This year I went as a writer, when the last few years I’ve been the pro angler. I’m looking forward to having a good time, fishing and shooting some pictures without the pressure of finding fish. I get hooked up with Mark Blanton the owner of Gone Fishing marine. It’s nice I’ve known mark for a few years but never had the chance to fish with him.
It’s about 7:30 and we hit the water. I’m armed with four rods and a one small box of tackle. Rigged up I have an S-Waver, Chartreuse Shad Rip Bait, 5″ Green Pumpkin Senko and a drop shot and a brown spider jig in the waiting. My Equipment: one Shimano Crucial 7’ medium light paired with US Reel’s Hibdon model 80
0, spooled up with 10lb McCoy fluorocarbon for ripping. For the S-Waver, and the jig I’m testing out the Loomis NRX 7’1” medium fast rod paired with a core reel, spooled with 12lb fluorocarbon. The Senko I have another Crucial rod but a little stiffer, this one is a 7’ medium action also with a US Reel spooled with 10lb McCoy. The drop shot rig is a Powell 702 ML paired with a 230 SX wide spool US spinning reel and 8lb fluorocarbon. Mark Blanton has a complete set of Powell rods and Shimano reels. Being the boater Mark had three times as much gear as I had. He’s rigged with an Ali-Baby swimbait, the same rip bait as I have, Booya vibrating bait, spinner bait, Senko and several others.
Today were in a brand new Triton SX18, fortunately Mark has the ability to grab one off the lot. Nice Ha! While fishing as a bass pro it’s been a long time since I’ve been in an 18-foot bass boat. Though the boat seemed small at first, it fished great even with two guys in the front. Mark was telling me the 18-foot Triton sells for about $24,000. Which is less than half of a 21ft model. I’m thinking, “that’s not bad”. The boat fished well, was comfortable. Though Mark didn’t push it, we hit 65 MPH with ease.
The plan for the day is fish for a while, come in at 11 AM, switch partners and go back out until 2PM. Then see an on the water Lowrance demo.
Our first spot a cove just off the main lake almost mid lake. It’s over cast, light breeze, 60 degrees and the water temp is 63. Once stopped we notice the lake is full to the top and water is murkier than usual. By murky, I mean you can see only eight feet down instead of 20. Moving down the bank Mark spots a big bass about five or six pounds but it quickly moves out to deep water, then another and another on this bank we see about eight or so, just cruisers. With this last week of nice weather we were hoping to find some big bed fish. Scouting for bedding bass and fishing at the same time. Mark is using a white spinnerbait and I’m slow rolling a R2S S-Waver. Mark is covering the bank and I’m fan casting out of the back both shallow and deep. Now were at the back of the cove we haven’t been bit so I try slowing down a little. Tossing a wacky rigged Senko, I slowly let it sink to about eight feet and “tick” I get bit, I set the hook and nothing. Think it was a deep spawning bed I make a few more casts to the exact spot but nothing. We move up the other side of the cove working it with the Senko, drop shot, S-waver, and spinnerbait. We haven’t had a chance to pre-fish so we are experimenting the entire time fishing shallow to deep, slow, fast, plastics, hard baits hoping to find the productive pattern.
Moving out of the cove towards the main lake I picked up the rip bait and fired it across the point, wham a three plus smallie nails it. Cool, I flip it in the boat, “now we’re not fishless”. Heading down the bank here comes Kent. Mark and I are now both ripping; we see Kent set the hook hard but the fish isn’t fighting “it’s a snag”, he breaks off and reties. Now Kent’s back up and he’s ripping, he must have seen us catch the fish. We get up to him and razz him about the hook set on a snag he tells up he was jacked up from catching a giant smallie on a Ghost Minnow Stacey. Now I know why he’s ripping too. Just like you, we want to see the fish, so Kent pulls out a five and a half smallie out of the well. What an awesome fish, Kent said it’s his best ever smallmouth. I shoot a few pictures and tell him my biggest was four and a half pounder that I caught in a BassMaster event on the Columbia River. We move on past Kent heading down the main lake and I catch another one about two and a half. Nice, now were on to something, on down the bank for a mile or so, no bites, one follower. Maybe were not on to something?
It’s getting a little warmer and lighter so Mark recommended scouting for some more beds, we travel up the river to another cove. It all looks great: creek channel running out to deep-water, small adjacent flats, rocks, trees and hard spawning surfaces everywhere. Everything is perfect just no fish, so we try working out a little deeper for the fish that are staging to spawn, still nothing. Moving to the back of the cove and up the other bank Mark is retying switching baits so I hop on the trolling motor and start slinging the rip bait. I’m amazed how far i can cast with this Hibdon reel. Not 100 yards down the bank I land another one about two pounds. We round the point into the main lake and I hook up again about a pound and a half smallie, as I flip it in the boat it hits the gunnel and swims off. On down the bank we go figuring if we cover enough water we can gather a good limit, another 200 yards another one bite but comes off, a mile down the bank and no more bites.
We pack it up and start to head in then seeing Kent on the way in we stop to see what’s going on. Kent let us know we missed the 11 AM switch. Opps, I guess the time just slipped away! Kent says just come back in about 2PM. Ok, and we’re off to try some new areas.
Sticking around the center of the lake where we envision smallies should be moving up, we put the trolling motor down and cover some water looking for a more suspended bass. “Our thought is that the bass are suspended in a holding pattern waiting for the full moon and stable weather. Even though the water is warm, the changing weather conditions has kept both the largemouth and smallmouth from spawning.” About two miles of bank, fishing points cuts, flats and everything in between not a fish to be caught. We then head to the back of a creek again looking to see if anyone has moved up in the afternoon. Again we see some cruiser but none that want to commit.
Ending out day we head out to a submerged island on the main lake. The wind has picked up and we’re anticipating a better bite. I’m still on the rip bait as we work around the island I get bit and land a two plus largemouth. First largemouth of the day then not a minute alter Mark get’s bit on a Berkely Chigger Craw and lands a nice two-pound largemouth. One more time around the island and we decide it time to call it quits.
Coming off pad i
nto the 5 zone we see Kent again heading out. Hey where have you guys been? Fishing why? You missed the photo shoot and the Lowrance demo. It’s now three o’clock and I’m going to find the other stragglers. “At least were not the only ones”’ I’m thinking. Mark and I head in and do our own little photo shoot with the fish we caught then put it on the trailer.
Mark and I had both been working a multitude of 12-hour days so it didn’t take much time on the water for us to become enthralled and forget everything else, like the check in times. It was a great day catching fish, shooting a few pictures and spending some much needed time on the water.
These fish are moving up and I might just play hooky next week and go back.
Here is the list of attendees:
John Maes Former Angler of the Year in many team circuits and finesse expert
Dean McDaniel Dean caught the one who caught a 9 pound smallmouth bass at the first media day
Ken Mah FLW Pro
Cody Meyer FLW Cup Qualifier and Stren Series Angler of the Year and FLW Cup 2nd place in 2010
Jeff Michaels 2011 Everstart Lake Shasta Champion and 2008 Stren Series Lake Mead Champion
Mike Folkestad 3 time U.S. Open Champion and Western Legend
Preston Henson BASS Central Division Pro
Greg Gutierrez 2 time Bassmaster Classic Qualifier and Anglers Choice Pro Am Angler of the Year 2010
Chris Zaldain 4 Time Forrest Wood Cup Qualifier
Ken Sauret Lowrance Electronics
Bub Tosh FLW Cup Co-Angler Champion and FLW Pro owner and designer of Paycheck Baits
Russ Graves Swimbait Expert
Earl Dalton FLW Pro and Jackson Rancheria Pro
Kent Brown Host of Ultimate Bass Radio Show on Sports 1140 KHTK
Mark Blanton Owner of Gone Fishin Marine in Dixon
Bill Mays Won Bass and Western Outdoor News
Alex Mei Tackletour.com
Tony Stoltz Westernbass.com
Brian Sak Senior writer Bassmaster Magazine
Angelo Alorro Mother Lode Pro and Bass Angler Magazine
Mark Lassagne Bass Angler Magazine
Jody Only Advancedangler.com and Bass Fishing Examiner “Nationwide”
Dan Bacher Fish Sniffer Magazine
Cal Kellogg Fish Sniffer Magazine
Dan O’Sullivan Advancedangler.com
Brian Conway Jackson Radio Station
Craig Gottwalls Bass West Magazine
Dan Mathesion Bass West Magazine
Ron Howe RB Bassfishing
Tami Jennings TC Sports Reports