I got the chance to fish two bass tournaments at Potholes Reservoir this month. Both events were hosted by MarDon Resort and put on by Russ Baker, the man behind Limit Out Performance Marine, a boat dealership specializing in bass boats with locations in Pacific and Spokane Valley.
The first event was a two-day Pro-Am tournament that attracted 94 boats, each with a professional angler (the boat owner) and an amateur angler (who fished from the back of the boat). This tournament attracted not only local anglers but also anglers from Idaho and Oregon to include some pretty big names like Luke Clausen, a former Bassmaster Classic champion and current Major League Fishing tournament angler.
I was excited to fish this tournament as an amateur angler. Of course, I wanted to cash a check but the main reason I wanted to fish this tournament was to learn from professional anglers who were more experienced than I was and to get dialed in for the Big Bass tournament taking place immediately after this event.
On day one I was paired with Ray Drinkwine, a relatively new but avid angler who went all in on the sport six years ago. We headed up the Winchester Arm to look for bass and found a good amount of the field had done the same thing. I caught one small bass on a topwater plug in the first five minutes but didn’t catch another fish all day. Ray got into some two-to-three-pound largemouth bass in flooded timber, boating two fish and losing another before the bite petered out. With no bites in over an hour we decided to head south towards O’Sullivan Dam to fill out our five fish limit with smallmouth bass. Arriving there, Ray quickly caught one but that was all we caught and we spent the next three hours trying in vain to hook up with other fish in this area. Weighing in at the end of the day, we only had a bag of 5.8 pounds with our three bass which put us in second to last place.
The next morning, I was paired with Jeremy LeCaire from Coeur de’ Alene, Idaho. Jeremy had a good first day, weighing in over 16 pounds of largemouth bass and he had a pretty good second day as well, catching twelve quality fish while I reeled in a half dozen smaller bass. LeCaire caught a couple of bass casting a weedless frog in the morning but the bulk of his fish were caught using a “wacky worm” rigged Senko. LeCaire taught me to cast from a distance (as opposed to close in) to avoid spooking the bass that were on spawning beds and to look for the bass not only on the flooded timber, but also on submerged sand dunes with exposed willow trees rising above the surface. LeCaire weighed in a limit of five bass weighing 15.3 pounds at the end of the day, putting him just below the cut for a check at the end of the two-day tournament. As for the winners of this event? That would be Luke Clausen on the pro side who weighed in a two-day bag of 40 pounds, earning him a new Phoenix bass boat valued at over$45,000.
The top amateur angler was Abel Gomez from Othello, who took home a $5,000 pay check. Russ Baker with Limit Out Marine was very happy with how this tournament turned out. It is exceedingly rare to have a Pro-Am tournament here in the Pacific Northwest but it was truly a quality event that Russ plans to bring back next year on May 1 and 2 . You can find out more about this tournament and others he puts on at www.bigbasstrail.com.
Next week, we’ll let you know how my friend Rusty Johnston and I did in the Big Bass tournament, why I love this particular format so much, and why I believe it is much better for the overall bass fishery at any lake you fish at.
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
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