LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. – California pro Todd Kline brought 22 pounds, 1 ounce to the scales Thursday to grab the Day 1 lead at the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats on Lake Havasu. Behind him, Jason Marquez is 1 pound, 11 ounces off the lead and pacing a small group of just seven pros to crack the 18-pound mark.
A Southern California native and guide on fisheries from Perris Reservoir down to the Mexican border, Kline has an impressive Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse resume with five finishes of 34th or better in Angler of the Year points in five seasons fishing as a Toyota Series pro. He also netted two Co-Angler of the Year awards (2013, 2014) and a win on Havasu in 2014.
Despite his experience at Havasu and other similar western fisheries, Kline had to put in some serious work during the pre-tournament practice period to establish a pattern that would put him on Day 1-leading fish. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Kline went out in search of smallmouth – generally his preferred bass of choice at Havasu this time of year. With varying levels of luck, he decided to switch to hunting green on Tuesday, a day he nearly didn’t even launch his boat.
“Tuesday was the windy day, and I really didn’t want to go fish because it was horrible conditions,” he said. “But if you find one spot or one bait, it was better than sitting at home watching TV. I went out that day and my intent was only to fish for largemouth. I started with one technique, and I got a couple bites on it and it kind of led me into something else.”
That “something else” is something Kline didn’t want to get into too much detail about with (hopefully) two more days of fishing for the California pro; though he did admit he’s running and gunning dozens of areas and specific spots while still fishing slow at each spot.
“It’s not like I have one spot that’s the money spot that I have to get to before someone else does,” he said. “I just kind of have a bit of a pattern I’m trying to run.”
Having only gotten onto that pattern on Tuesday, Kline refined his technique and expanded on his areas on Wednesday and on Day 1 of the event. Friday, it’ll be more of the same, running the same pattern and refining what’s already working. In addition, the weather might be on his side with potential cloud cover in the forecast for at least part of the day.
Hard work and agreeable weather aside, there’s also no substitute for a little faith-driven providence, as Kline detailed when explaining the big moment that encapsulated his tournament-leading Day 1.
“I had four fish and I was hoping to get my fifth,” he explained. “It had been a little while since I had gotten a bite. I was saying a prayer and literally six words into the prayer I get hammered and catch my biggest fish of the day.”
1. Todd Kline – 22-1 (5)
2. Jason Marquez – 20-6 (5)
3. Mike Williams – 20-1 (5)
4. Kyle Grover – 19-12 (5)
5. Kurt Dove – 18-15 (5)
6. David Valdivia – 18-11 (5)
7. Dean Rojas – 18-4 (5)
8. Tony Lain – 17-12 (5)
9. Chris Kinley– 16-8 (5)
10. Kirk Stickler – 15-4 (5)
This event is hosted by Go Lake Havasu and presented by Psycho Tuna.
Todd Woods – one half of the Todd & Todd Leader Duo – typically fishes from the front of the boat as a seasoned Western Division pro. This time around, he wasn’t even going to fish this event at all due to his son’s birthday last week (which would have meant very little practice and prep time without missing the festivities). With an uneven field of boaters and Strike King co-anglers, though, Woods offered to balance out the field as an observer, only to find out there were more boaters than co-anglers in the field. He then offered instead to fish from the back deck.
As fortune would have it, that was the correct decision. Woods sacked up a limit of 13 pounds, 14 ounces, giving him a 2-7 lead over Tom Nokes and a lead of more than 5 pounds over everyone else. He was the only Day 1 co-angler to weigh in a limit.
Woods had seven rods rigged up with seven different baits on Day 1, but he only needed one to do almost all his damage. He used his “staple bait” all day – one he said he’s won more than $100,000 with – a Basstrix swimbait rigged on an Abu Garcia Vendetta rod and Abu Garcia Revo Winch reel spooled with 14-pound-test Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon line.
Woods chose that swimbait for a specific reason, and it had little to do with his familiarity of the bait or of the fishery.
“I feel like the majority of tournaments are won by decision-making from the front of the boat,” he said. “The majority of the tournaments as a co-angler are won because you don’t try to do what the pros are doing. Don’t try to match bait for bait – they just do their own thing like they’re not even there.”
Choosing to zig where his boater, Kazuki Kodama, zagged, Woods employed the Basstrix to near perfection, landing five of his seven bites on the day for a bag that puts him in prime position to at least make Championship Saturday, regardless of what happens on Day 2.
1. Todd Woods – 13-14 (5)
2. Tom Nokes – 11-7 (3)
3. Kirk Marshall – 8-9 (3)
4. Brett Robbins – 8-7 (3)
5. Michael Peterson – 8-1 (2)
6. Larrym Marquez – 7-8 (2)
7. William McAninch – 7-1 (2)
7. Scott Davis – 7-1 (4)
9. Tyson Christman – 6-12 (3)
9. Derek Wurtz – 6-12 (2)