Until you actually arrive at Lake Havasu, you can’t imagine quite how beautiful it is. Coming from the urban environment in Sacramento, it was a complete change. Several times I just looked up and said “Wow!” out loud. Making it even better, it’s a fantastic fishery where you can catch fish just about any way you want – largemouths and smallmouths, deep or shallow, flipping, fishing vegetation or hitting deep offshore structure.
We really only had a day and a half of practice and I knew absolutely zero about the lake, but after the “Groundhog Day” series of troubles that we had at the Delta, I was completely relaxed once I crossed the state line into Arizona. It was a different world, and my attitude improved the moment the speed limit switched from 55mph to 75mph.
I arrived at our rental house with a couple of days to get my tackle reorganized and do a little bit of map study. I figured that I’d go up the river one day and spend the other day down lake. There was no way I could look at everything, but by identifying key spawning areas I was pretty sure that I could hit the highlights and build on from there.
My first day of practice wasn’t particularly good. I had eight bites, and some of them were quality fish, but I wasn’t completely dialed in yet. On the second day I went down the lake and caught quite a few more fish flipping and fishing beds. I decided that in the tournament I’d start up and work my way down.
After getting a whole bunch of flipping bites in practice, once the tournament started it was like someone flipped the off switch. That bite died and I still don’t know why. I ended up having to rely on bed fish that I found as the day progressed – I’d move forward down the bank, find a bed, decide whether to fish for it, and then try to catch the spawning fish.
In the last hour I made a complete change and started fishing current breaks near where I’d been flipping. I caught three 3 pound smallmouths really quick to bring my bag up to 13 pounds 11 ounces. That had me in 56th place, but now I had a clue about how I’d start Day Two.
I found lots of crawfish parts in the livewell, which enabled me to rig up a green pumpkin orange Lunker Lure Finesse Jig that matched them perfectly. I started on the current breaks looking for smallmouths and almost immediately caught a decent largemouth. I couldn’t believe it. After that the current breaks died on me and I never caught another fish there, but I did manage a few flipping the Missile Baits D Bomb. Once again, some late-in-the-day heroics saved me. I had located some main lake structure that I believed had potential and when I got there with 90 minutes to go I had five bites and landed two of them, a 4 pound largemouth and a 3 pound smallmouth. They brought me up to 14-13 for the day, and moved me up 15 places to 41st, inside the cut.
I knew that the river was done for me, so I intended to expand my main lake stuff on Day Three, starting on or near the places where I’d gotten the two big bites at the end of Day Two. I changed up my gear again, this time using a magnum shakey head with a watermelon/green pumpkin Senko on it. In the first two hours, I had only one bite and it got away, so I started expanding and eventually happened onto some productive water nearby. Pretty quickly I caught three big largemouths and then I continued to grind after that. Despite trying a lot of different things, I ended up landing only six fish, but they were all good ones. My 17 pound limit pushed me way up the standings to 14th place, just outside the cut.
While it was disappointing to not fish on Sunday, I was happy with the adjustments I’d made. I fished instinctively and that’s when I usually do best. Also, even though I’ve already pre-qualified for the 2016 Classic, I’m now in 26th place overall. After a disaster at the Sabine and a mediocre result at the Delta, I’m pleased to be up there and I’m super-excited about the rest of the schedule.
Before the next Elite Series event we have the Toyota Texas Bass Classic at Lake Fork. The place is loaded with big fish, the water is high and therefore should fish to my strengths. I can’t wait. After that it’s off to Kentucky Lake, which should be another slugfest.
Despite using a variety of techniques at Havasu, my tackle was standard issue. I flipped with a California Love D Bomb and a green pumpkin chartreuse tube with 5/16 ounce Reins Tungsten weights on 20 pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon. I used a 7’8” Denali Kovert XH rod paired with a Shimano Ci4 baitcasting reel (7.6:1).
I fished the 3/8 ounce mag shakey head on a 7’2” Kovert heavy action rod with the same reel and 14 pound Gamma Edge. I bought the heads at a tackle store there in Havasu and paired them with Senkos that I got directly from Gary Yamamoto himself – they even say “Gary’s Color” on the bait.
Despite the short practice period, I was able to break down a new lake with the help of my Lakemaster mapping software. They’d just finished their latest version of Havasu and I had the most current rendition available anywhere. I could see where the grass was located, where the right kind of ditches could be found, and so forth. It saved me and is truly an incredible tool for any fisherman.
14th Place; 15 fish, 45-08