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REDDING, Calif. – The first stop in the California Division of the Wild West Bass Trail (WWBT) brought over 250 anglers to the Super Clean Showdown on Lake Shasta this weekend, paying out in excess of $138,000 in cash.
A single lake point with a gold mine of bass turned into a tournament total of 23.71, a $19,500 payout and the honor of the first-ever NorCal champion for Zachary Elrite. “It all started in pre fish, because I knew I couldn’t break down a lake like Shasta in two days,” said the San Jose, Calif. pro. “I went with the best odds and narrowed to main lake and secondary points. On the first day the weather had changed. The rain was gone and it started to clear up; so, I felt they were pulling back out and instead of starting on my secondary point, I hit the main lake point. My first cast was a 4.33. That one fish made the difference in the win. It allowed me to realize the fish had moved out with the weather change.”
Elrite stuck to the same long sloping point for the duration of the event, catching 20 fish on Day 1 and eight on Day 2. Rotating through techniques and moving up and pulling off the area to vary his presentation and pressure, kept the fish biting.
“The majority of my fish were caught on a D&M Custom Baits Underdawg with a small 3 inch swimbait trailer, a Keitech swimbait rigged on a ball-head and an Old Ugly tube,” revealed Elrite. “The underspin caught the fish that were a little more aggressive. When I had to go slow and dull it down a bit, the ¼ oz ball-head was a more subtle approach. When they were tired of seeing that, I would throw the Old Ugly, which would pick up some better fish that were obviously looking for crawdads.
“The point was near a main channel. It fit the mold with access to deep water. I worked everything on it – the ridge, the drop off, the flat – everything. The majority of the fish were in 0-20 ft; but I would also have to pull out and catch them in 25-30 ft, when the bites weren’t coming as often as I felt they should. The area was constantly reloading; so after I fished out deep, I could move back in again.”
Elrite also reported that one of his weigh fish came on a five-wire, multi-arm rig; however, he never found a consistent bite with it.
The $19,500 first place payout included $1,500 in contingency dollars from Yamamoto, P-Line and Ranger.
Randy Pierson, of Oakdale, Calif. slipped to second place after topping the leaderboard the first day. He earned the runner-up position with 21.76, including the event’s Yamamoto Toad of the Day big fish honors with a 6.02. He pocketed $10,750 for the feat.
Pierson attributed his success to his unpressured location. “In practice, I found some water that was little bit colder than everywhere else,” he recalled “I caught a good fish on my last cast there. That kept me on the spot and I learned about the 2 ½ mile stretch. Basically, I found the isolated breaks and points under the water that the fish would be looking for.”
All of Pierson’s weigh fish were caught on an 1/8 oz dart head with a 6 inch Trick Worm and a 3/8 oz football head with a Yamamoto Hula Grub in 301. Most of his fish came out of 15-30 ft.
His winnings of $10,750 included contingency dollars from Yamamoto and Lowrance.
Rounding out the Top-3 pros was Dan Sweat from Pleasant Hill, Calif. with 21.72. Slowing his presentation and moving away from reaction baits was the key to his success. He used swimbaits and Hula Grubs to bank $7,500.
The co-angler victory went to Tim Wells of Clovis, Calif. Wells found an early morning, shady-bank pattern that landed him a couple of key A-rig fish. “My pro took me to a main lake point and literally, on my second cast, I had a 3 ½ and on my very next cast, I had a 2 lb’r,” he said. “My very first cast with it on the second day, I got another one – almost 3 lbs. Once the sun hit the water, that bite just died. At that point, I primarily threw a Texas-rigged, 6 inch Bassectomy hand-pour in Spot Remover in different portions of the water column.”
Wells noted that although the lake had a lot of color, his pros had them in the cleaner areas. The depth that produced best for the A-rig was 5-8 ft and the worm fish were as shallow as 8-10, but also as deep as 50.
Wells earned the top co-angler prize of $6,500 including contingency dollars for Yamamoto and P-Line.
An additional $1,000 was paid to Dan Wells and $500 to Isaac Lawrence for “Run and Win with Lucas” contingency dollars.
The WWBT Super Clean Showdown at Shasta was hosted by the Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau. The event will be televised on Fox Sports and the Pursuit Channel, airing in 2017.
The WWBT debuted in 2016 with 17 events that include two Pro/Am and two Teams circuits – one based in California and the other in Arizona. Each Pro/Am circuit consists of three tournaments and a combined, year-end qualifying championship event. The Teams circuit includes four tournaments and a year-end championship. The WWBT will return to Shasta for their second California Teams stop on Feb. 27.
A special thanks to all of the WWBT sponsors – Lucas Oil, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Lowrance Electronics, Dobyns Rods, General Tire, Add-A-Wrap, Protect the Harvest, Gator Guards, P-Line, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, Power-Pole, Industrial Decals, Hydro Force Marine, Super Clean, E3 Spark Plugs and Hampton Inn.