Day one of the Costa FLW Series presented by Minn Kota on Shasta Lake offered a stiff challenge on the weather side of things that many anglers overcame with flying colors. The best of the early going was Richard Dobyns of Marysville, Calif., who struck for 16-2 and holds the slimmest of leads going into the second day.
If there was any unifying factor besides the nasty weather it was that reaction baits ruled. Among the top anglers, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits and other moving baits seemed to be the go-to lures for those who did especially well.
Read about Dobyns’ leading pattern here.
2. Miles Howe – San Juan Capistrano, Calif. – 16-1 (5)
Just an ounce behind the leader, Miles Howe of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., caught them big on day one.
“I’m fishing a reaction bait,” reveals Howe. “During practice I only got a handful of bites on it, but with this weather change the bite turned on. I feel good about tomorrow [Friday]. I kinda stopped fishing what I was doing around 12:30. If this weather holds up I feel like I could get the same thing again.”
Quitting shortly after noon likely impacted his numbers, but even then Howe wasn’t catching a lot of fish. He says he only had six bites all morning, but they happened to be the right ones.
Howe says that he’s focused in on a few specific areas close together, and is simply running them over and over to get his bites. Though getting only a few bites a day is always risky, Howe certainly appears to be dialed in on bass of the right size.
3. Bryant Smith – Castro Valley, Calif. – 14-13 (5)
Leading the group behind the top two is Bryant Smith, who hails from Castro Valley, Calif., and who finished in the top 10 of the 2015 FLW Series season finale on Clear Lake. Bryan certainly had solid fish, but his total was greatly boosted by the day’s Big Bass, a mammoth 7-2 spot worth an extra $250.
“I was just running around, running as many points as I could, throwing reaction baits all day,” states Smith. “It’s the same plan tomorrow; I probably won’t get lucky again like I did today though.”
Other than lucking into the giant, Smith lost one other quality fish and boated upwards of 30 keepers. He might not be too confident now, but a couple good bites Friday and the quality of keepers he seems to be on might prove to be a winning recipe.
4. Sage Baker – Shasta Lake, Calif. – 13-15 (5)
Forced to come in early because of a battery issue, Sage Baker of Shasta Lake, Calif., is a favorite likely to move up in the standings Friday.
Baker says he began his day fishing in creeks, but quickly moved to a run-and-gun pattern with reaction baits.
“I only caught 8 or 10 fish, but the ones I caught were good ones,” says Baker. “I couldn’t catch a giant, but they're the right size. I had a small fish right around 2 pounds, and I had to put a few on the balance beam to cull up from there.
“The weather didn’t affect things too bad for me. The fish have been super shallow, and it has gotten better throughout the day with the warmer weather. Today it was just slow and steady throughout.”
Having plenty of experience on Shasta, Baker seems happy to try and repeat his pattern on day two. Despite burning nearly a full tank of gas, he’s still got some spots left, as he says he specifically tried to save some potentially productive areas for the second day.
5. Justin Kerr – Simi Valley, Calif. – 13-14 (5)
Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., grabbed fifth place on the strength of a hot morning.
Kerr confesses that he caught all his weight by about 10 a.m. throwing reaction baits (the bait du jour, no doubt), but couldn’t upgrade at all after that. That would be fine and dandy if he could count on a repeat, but Kerr is concerned about his second-round performance.
“A couple guys are fishing the same area, including on who did really well,” says Kerr. “Unfortunately, I think it could muddy up too. We’ll just have to see what the rain does to it and if it is still good tomorrow.”
Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each division determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.
Takeoff Time: 7:00 a.m. PT
Takeoff Location: Bridge Bay Resort, 10300 Bridge Bay Road, Redding, Calif.
Weigh-In Time: Days 1 and 2 at 3 p.m.; Day 3 at 3:30 p.m.
Weigh-In Location: Bridge Bay Resort, 10300 Bridge Bay Road, Redding, Calif.