PAYSON, Ariz. – Ken Howden was flipping out – after a day of flipping into Lake Roosevelt’s flooded brush moved him into the pro lead of the EverStart Series Western Division tournament.
Moving up from second place with a total weight of 34-6, the Mesa, Ariz. pro sacked up a limit of 20 pounds, 2 ounces and, along with his day one weight of 14-4, he established a huge lead of 8-2. Howden’s day two catch is the largest of the tournament and the event’s only bag to break 20.
Howden credited his success to locating a spot that was full of fish. He spent his day in one of the creek arms and focused on an area of about 50 square feet where his best bites came in 10 feet of water.
“I found this area in practice and I was in there for five minutes and had bites like crazy. I left thinking I was going to hold it for today, but I went in there yesterday and again today.”
No doubt, Howden found a honey hole, but he said his day was no cake walk. Essential to finding the big fish was push poling his boat deep into the cover. He flipped creature baits on 70-pound braid, but even with the strong string, he had his hands full when it came time to negotiate the fish’s exit.
“It’s very difficult (to get them out),” he said. “You just have to manhandle them. Once you get them up and get them coming, you hope that they don’t get stuck because the boat is stuck (in the cover). If you try to move the boat to a fish, forget it.”
Howden said that his bait color proved important to his consistency. He used green pumpkin baits to match the forage he knew the fish were eating.
Kile spins up 22 notches to second
Hometown pro Mark Kile, of Payson, Ariz. put his local knowledge to use and caught a limit of 15-7 that moved him up 22 spots from 24th to second with a total weight of 26-2. Kile caught his fish by slow-rolling a 1/2-ounce chartreuse/white spinnerbait with double willow leaves in six to eight feet of water over points with brush.
“I live here, so this is a pattern that works every February,” Kile said.
With plenty of options on Lake Roosevelt, Kile started his day fishing conservatively and then went hunting for quality bites.
“I have a place I can catch a limit in about 30 minutes, but they’re smaller fish,” he said. “Then I go to another place and the bite is a little slower, but they’re all bigger fish. The (action) was all day. I caught 50 fish in the last two days.
Yang adjusts, improves to third
On day one, Los Angeles, Calif. pro Young Yang worked a jerkbait pattern over a tree-lined road bed and sacked up a nice limit mixed with green and brown fish. Today, only the largemouth cooperated and Yang had a small limit by about 9:30. After rotating through his spot about three times, he made a move to a creek and flipped the outside trees in about nine feet to cull up. His limit of 12-12 gave him a third place total of 24-10.
“I started with a baby brush hog Texas rigged with a ¾-ounce tungsten weight and I was flipping right into the heart of the trees,” Yang said. “I was catching all the same size fish and I wanted to catch bigger ones, so I upsized to the full size Brush Hog and I caught my bigger fish on it.”
Lippincott gets the drop on fourth
Clay Lippincott, of Goodear, Ariz. caught 13-7 on day two and improved from 18th to fourth with a total of 24-6. He fished a dropshot with a Roboworm of an undisclosed color around heavy brush in about nine feet of water. Lippincott said his main spot was on a flat near a deep river channel.
“The fish were coming up in waves, about every 10 minutes,” he said. “I went with a dropshot because I figured I needed to slow down today. The cloud cover came in and they weren’t really hitting reaction baits. I slowed down and that produced what I needed.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Choke Canyon event:
6th: Kevin Stewart, of Elk Grove, Calif., 23-11
7th: Andy Manahl, of Mesa, Ariz., 23-10
8th: Rick Mason, of Glendale, Ariz., 23-8
9th: John Murray, of Phoenix, Ariz., 23-7
10th: Keith Espe, of New River, Ariz., 23-5
Flipping gives Rychard big game to co-angler lead
His was the biggest improvement of the tournament – a 52-spot rocket ride that moved Anderson, Calif. co-angler Mike Rychard from 53rd place to first with 24-8. Paired with Howden, Rychard fished the heavy brush and sacked up a limit weighing 17-9. Rychard’s bag – the heaviest co-angler catch so far – included a largemouth that went 5-5.
Although flipping creature baits accounted for most of his weight, Rychard also fished a dropshot with a Texas-rigged Mother’s Finest Worm. The company created a color pattern specifically for Rychard’s use in this event. The color is similar to a Mojave Oxblood, only a little darker.
“Guys are always bragging that they want a worm named after themselves, but I’m not into that, so they just named it `Roosevelt Special.'”
Mike Powell of Heber City, Utah held on to second place with 21-2, while Bryant Smith, of Castro Valley, Calif., improved to third with 20-11. Christopher Irigoyen, of Henderson, Nev. placed fourth with 20-4 and Lester Albury, of Temecula, Calif. was fifth with 19-9.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Choke Canyon event:
6th: Pat Wilson, of Petaluma, Calif., 19-2
7th: Matthew Nadeau, of Grass Valley, Calif., 19-0
8th: Justin Arellano, Isleton, Calif., 18-14
9th: Shannon Henry, of Phoenix, Ariz., 18-10
10th: Roy Desmangles, Jr., of Lincoln, Calif., 18-8
Day three of EverStart Series Western Division action on Lake Roosevelt continues at Saturday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:00 a.m. (Mountain) at the Cholla Recreation Site, located five miles NW of the Roosevelt Dam on Highway 188 in Roosevelt, Ariz.