Wild West Bass Trail Pro/Am Shasta WIN Recap

Intro: Pre Fish

My Game plan going into pre-fish, knowing it was rainy/cold was to focus on the main lake. I wanted to explore the opening of the main arms but wasn’t planning on going up the Sacramento, Pit or other rivers very far. During this time of year, those aren’t areas I feel productive fishing, although I’m sure there are fish there.

On the First day of practice I ventured slightly up into the Pit River arm because there is so much wood in that arm standing in 50-60 feet of water. It’s just too tempting for that big largemouth bite, or some heavy Spots. The water in the Pit arm was muddy and cold. I can work with one or the other but I always try to avoid both if at all possible. For me it’s about eliminating variables. After about 30 mins of fishing in high percentage areas without any bites, I decided to pick up the trolling motor and head out to main lake, hitting secondary points. I focused on the biggest points and then started targeting the secondary points on either side. Almost every 2nd point I stopped at that had access to deep water, held fish on them. It was textbook really. I would catch 1 or 2 fish at a point, then mark it on my Hummingbird and I would head to the next one.

After fishing in two days of solid rain, I felt good. I caught fish, I had an average limit each day and I had approximately 25 points marked that I wanted to fish during the event.

The duration of my pre fishing began at first light on Thursday morning and ended around 3 PM that afternoon. Friday’s official practice went the same way, staying focused on finding concentrations of active fish.

In the days that led up to the Tournament, not to sound pessimistic, I really hadn’t thought much about the tournament. I had been so busy with my work that I didn’t have a lot of time to put a lot of undue stress on myself, which I tend to do. I didn’t even study a map, which is unlike me. I knew what I had to do and that I ought to focus my efforts on one or two areas of the lake, as opposed to covering a miles and miles of water.

Saturday Day 1 : 2-30-16
Air Temperature: Mid 50’s
Water Temp: 48 Degrees

Right from the start of day one, I noticed the clear skies. The clouds had cleared up, there was no rain in sight and it certainly was not as cold as we’d seen in practice. So I thought ok, I will stop at my first secondary point, closest to launch and see how the fish were positioned. I was the 15th boat out on Saturday. Right off the bat, five casts into the morning on a Lucky Craft Staycee I had no takers. I literally looked up at the sky and thought, “things have really changed weather wise”. I turned the boat around, trolled about 30 yards up to the main point and my first cast on a Keitech swing impact fat, rigged on a one quarter ounce ball head, I caught a 4.33lb Spot.

After landing that fish I knew it was on. I mean, everybody feels good after a 4.33lb Spotted Bass But I just had a feeling that I could potentially pull this thing out if I fished clean and out my head down.

After composing myself, I looked at my co-angler and I told him, “we may be here two hours or we may be here all day”. Over the next few hours we both proceeded to catch a limit and even started culling some fish.

I knew right there that these fish were hungry, they were actively eating. So I made the decision by about 10 o’clock that I would stay there the remainder of the day. In the first 3 hours of the day I had culled 3 limits of fish.

During the span of that day I was pretty dialed in on these fish. I found that they were in a break line at about 28-34 feet. The point I targeted was a very long, slow tapering point and I positioned the boat on the leeward side, in a spot that dropped off substantially. I could see on my Humminbird sonar unit that these fish were stacked heavily on the bottom, I mean it was loaded with fish. In the first 3 hours of the day I had culled 3 limits of fish.

By about 11:30 the bite had slowed. They were still eating but the bites were fewer and further between. After another hour and half the bite turned back on. So I made the decision to call the tournament director Jason Bubier, to see if I could call the camera boat and tell them we were on a good pod of fish. He granted me permission to call them and they headed over to us.

We proceeded to cull a few more limits on camera and eventually ended the day with what would officially be weighed at 12.90.

Day 2:

Weather: clear skies, colder and windy

We woke up on day to even colder temps. Everything was iced over, we had blue bird skies and iced over carpets on the boat.

Going into day 2, prior to launch, I began racking my brain as to whether or not I should return to the same point. Because I was fifteenth boat out on day one, I knew that I would be fifteenth from last on day 2 and that I would be fighting for position on my point. After some thought I decided that after catching fish all day on that point Saturday, I would return to that same point.

I had a feeling that I’d have company when I got to my spot because several other anglers saw me sit on that point all day Saturday. I knew these boats may beat me to the point. After some advice from well respected, fellow anglers, they agreed that I wouldn’t be out of line asking those boats to let me finish what I started on day one. We loaded a cameraman on board and proceeded to blast off.

Sure enough, when we arrived, there were two boats fishing the main lake point I was targeting the day before. I asked the angler sitting directly on the point if he wouldn’t mind if I fished there, to which he replied with,”yea, go ahead”. So I settled in for day two right where I started day one, on the side of the point with the steeper dropped. First cast, Fish on. Unfortunately he threw the bait about ten feet from the boat. It was a solid 2lb fish. Even though mentally it hurt, it Made for good footage. I composed myself, Shook it off and threw right back in there only to be rewarded with another solid bite. This time I boated that fish, another 2lb fish. I caught 3 fish in the next 3 casts right there and then had to work hard to fill my limit.

On Sunday I started using the D&M Custom Baits Underdawg, rigged with a Keitech trailer. I wanted to show them something a little different then I showed them all day Saturday and boy did it work. After the 2 hours I had 4 fish in the boat. By about 11:30 the cameraman switched boats and the other anglers on the point gave me a bit more room to work. At that point I got back to catching fish by dragging a Dry Creek tube with a one-quarter once tube weight.

After catching my fifth fish and culling a few, the wind picked up quite a bit. We had gusts up to 30 MPH and I noticed my trolling motor batteries going dead. Realizing this, I headed to a protected point that I had marked in practice. I was reluctant to move and after twenty minutes my instinct told me to go back.

I arrive back to the point minutes later, with dead trolling motor batteries. I knew I needed one more good fish to cull out a two pound fish I had, in order to really have a shot at the win. I utilized my PowerPole shallow water anchor by idling up to the shallow point and dropping the pole. I was locked in place and now fishing my baits uphill, as opposed to downhill. As fortune would have it, I caught my last culling fish weighing 2.90lbs. I finished my day out there headed in with enough time to spare.

Standing in the weigh-in line with the other top-ten anglers from day one, I hoped and prayed that I had enough. The next moments leading to my turn to walk on stage seemed to take forever, though now it feels like it only took a split second. I took the hot-seat with my 10.89lbs and watched as Randy Pierson weighed in an 8lb limit…. I took the win! Shocked, amazed, in awe… I was announced the winner!

See you out on the water,
Zak Elrite

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