‘Revenge’ in California
What started as misery in the California Delta on the BASS Elite Series Left Coast swing turned to gold in the Golden State this week with a 29th-place finish. Like I said in my Delta Tour Summary: I was zero for five in check collecting in California over the years, this state owed me and I hoped to get some kind of retribution at Clear Lake.
Well I did! Okay, so a 29th place finish may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but when you’ve had your hide tanned in Cali as many times as I have, just getting out of that state with a $10,000 check feels pretty darn good. Plus, given that I was in 77th place after the first day and managed to pull the nose up and avoid another California disaster in terms of Bassmaster Classic qualification points is a big bonus, too.
I started the tournament in Rodman’s Slough. I liked the area because the water in Rodman’s had the most color to it. Believe me, Clear Lake is correctly named. The clarity of the water gives bass the upper hand, which is why finesse tactics work so well there.
The first morning of the tournament, I got on my best bank in Rodman’s and started flipping bushes and laydowns with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.
After settling in on my best stretch, I start hearing all this commotion and looked up to see Bill Lowen and Guy Eaker wearing bass out on the opposite bank from where I was fishing. I mean they were flat slinging them! Both guys were boat flipping 3- to 5-pounders left and right. They were culling three-pounders before I even had my first bite and it was KILLING me.
I guess Lowen finally took pity on me because he gave me a huge clue by telling me I needed to tie on some kind of cranking jig. I quickly tied on a Revenge Viberator cranking jig to my swimbait rod and caught two good ones on my stretch without intruding on their bank.
The problem, however, was that I really did not have to the right rod and line combination tied on for a cranking jig and I lost two big ones because of it. I should have just stopped right then, sat down, took a deep breath, respooled the right rod with the right line and went back to fishing.
But by then, my mind was fried. After getting schooled by Lowen and Eaker and losing a couple of big ones to having the cranking jig tied on the improper tackle, I left to the area and fished elsewhere – there’s only so much of a beatdown a man can take!
By the way, let me just say, Guy Eaker maybe 70 years old, but that man can still dish out a throttling with a rod and reel. I wish you could have seen him boat flipping 5-pounders – he put on a fish-catching clinic at Clear.
That evening I got my tackle and my mind right. I spooled up 20-pound test Vicious Ultimate Fishing line (monofilament) on a 7-foot American Rodsmiths H3 Magnum Bass rod. For me it’s the perfect combination for a swimming jig or chatterbait style lure. The cranking jig I ended up using the most was a ½ -ounce Revenge Viberator in black and blue with a black Zoom split-tail trailer.
I returned to Rodman’s on day two with my refined arsenal. This time I put on my hood so I couldn’t hear Lowen and Eaker catching all those fish behind me. Indeed, they had the best bank in the slough, but there were a few fish on my stretch too. I ended up catching 20-15 the second day and 20-12 the third day to jump from 77th to 29th.
During the second day I figured out that with the cool nights, the fish were actually moving out off the bank cover to the base of the outside bushes and that’s were they were during the mornings. I’d crawl the Viberator along the outside bushes in the morning and the bass would smoke it. Having the right tackle made a huge difference in getting the fish in the boat.
Sometime around noon, when the bank cover and bushes would warm up from the sun, the fish would move up into the bushes and then I could catch them flipping a Sweet Beaver 420.
Here’s a closer look at the tackle I used at Clear Lake:
Reel: Ardent XS 1000 6:3:1
Rod: American Rodsmiths H3 flipping stick 7’-6”
Line: Vicious Ultimate Fishing Line 25 lb. clear
Lure: Reaction Innovations Sweat Beaver 420 (watermelon); 3/8-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight; 4/0 Xpoint round bend hook.