REDDING, Calif. – Buoyed by a total catch of 13 pounds, 13 ounces, which included one massive 7-pound, 3-ounce fish, Jeff Michels overcame numerous obstacles – including a difficult bass bite, near-frigid temps and nonstop rain showers – to secure the top spot in the Pro Division after the first day of EverStart Series competition on Lake Shasta.
Although Michels now boasts a half-pound lead over his next closest competitor and a 4-pound cushion with regard to the top-10 cut, the native of Lakehead, Calif., said the day’s grueling competition was far from optimal.
“It was really tough out there,” said Michels. “Without that big one, I really didn’t catch much. I struggled most of the day. I actually caught my fifth keeper on my last cast of the day so I was sort of lucky as well. As for tomorrow, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Michels said that he landed his 7-plus-pound bass at approximately 8:45 a.m. fishing a 6-inch Mother’s Finest worm. He also added to his five-fish stringer by fishing a variety of tube baits as well, targeting suspending bass on rock walls and points.
“I fished fairly shallow in the morning, about 15 feet, and then in the afternoon I targeted fish in a little deeper water probably in the 25- to 40-feet range. Basically, on this lake there isn’t a whole lot of cover to target. I mostly focused in on suspending bass near rock walls, points and steep drop-offs.”
Despite leading the tournament, Michels said that he has no plans to rest on his laurels.
“Yeah, I’m definitely happy to be leading the tournament,” he said. “But I’ve lead these tournaments after the first day before. The key is to be leading in the end. That’s my real goal.”
With his 7-pound, 3-ounce bass, Michels also netted the day’s “Big Bass” award which was worth $300.
Dobyns lands in second
While it’s hardly surprising to see the name “Dobyns” on a top-10 list in any competitive western bass event, it is always remarkable when the name that precedes “Dobyns” on the big board isn’t “Gary.” But that is in fact what transpired this afternoon. Using a catch of 13 pounds, 6 ounces, Gary Dobyns’ son Richard Dobyns procured family bragging rights after ending the afternoon in second place with the day’s only other 13-pound-plus stringer.
“It feels darn good to have that bag right now,” said the younger Dobyns. “Thirteen pounds is a good weight. I’d take that bag anytime on this lake – even when the fishing is good.”
Dobyns, who currently hails from Yuba City, Calif., said the key to today’s success was a very slow presentation.
“It was real tough out there and I really struggled for bites – I think I had about seven or eight all day,” he said. “But it was very important to fish as slowly as you could. The water is so clear that if you move your bait too fast, the fish won’t eat it. You pretty much have to dead-stick it. And on this lake, you never know when you’re going to get bit. So when you do, you have to capitalize.”
Dobyns said that depth played virtually no factor in today’s competition.
“You’d catch one fish at 5 feet and catch the next one at 50 feet,” he said. “That’s why you really have to cover a wide range of depths on this lake.”
However, it was the fish that he caught early in the morning that really propelled him into contention.
“I was fishing finesse plastics as slowly as I could. At about 9 a.m., that’s when I caught that (6-pound, 5-ounce) fish,” he said. “But even with that catch it was still tough out there. I plan on trying to do the same thing tomorrow but I might have to make some adjustments. I might have to stay deeper and continue fishing in that 50-foot range because that’s where I caught most of my good fish.”
Best of the rest
Local pro Rob Bass of Redding, Calif., grabbed fourth place overall with a total catch of 11 pounds, 2 ounces.
Howard G. Hughes of Redding, Calif., held onto fifth place by a mere 1 ounce with a total catch of 10 pounds, 6 ounces.
Smith takes control of Co-angler Division
Bolstered by a total catch of 10 pounds, 4 ounces, Bryant Smith of Castro Valley, Calif., easily secured first place overall in the Co-angler Division. In fact, Smith’s catch was so impressive that he actually out-fished 144 pro anglers en route to his eye-opening effort.
And he couldn’t have been happier.
With only two major tournaments under his belt before heading to Shasta, Smith said today’s results were well beyond his expectations.
“This is only my third pro-am so it’s really nice to be in this position,” he said. “It’s very cool to be in first place. I still can’t believe it.”
Smith said that he targeted bass in 20 to 30 feet of water fishing a wacky-rigged Senko.
“I basically caught fish on everything today,” he said. “I caught them on bluffs, off shallow points, drop-offs … all of that stuff. I just wish the conditions were going to stay the same tomorrow, but I think they’re going to change. So, we’ll have to see what happens.”
Best of the rest
Mitch Geyer of Elko, Nev., followed closely behind with an 8-pound, 5-ounce catch which good enough for third place.
Matthew G. Nadeau of Grass Valley, Calif., netted fourth place overall with a catch of 7 pounds, 12 ounces, while Lonnie S. Foster of Kneeland, Calif., finished fifth with a bag weighing 7-pounds, 11 ounces.
Bruce McCune of Anderson, Calif., finished the day in sixth place with a 7-pound, 7-ounce catch and also walked away with the day’s “Big Bass” honors in the Co-angler Division and a check for $200 after landing a 3-pound, 15-ounce bass.
EverStart Series action on Lake Shasta continues during Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. at Bridge Bay Resort, located at 10300 Bridge Bay Road in Redding, Calif.