CHESTER, Calif. — A key adjustment improved Austin Wilson’s efficiency and enabled the pro from Citrus Heights, Calif. to catch a 5-bass limit of 17.13 pounds and win the inaugural APEX Cup on Lake Almanor presented by Bridgford Outdoors.
While his day included a brief stop near the dam, Wilson spent most of his time in the mid-lake region. Here, he targeted 4- to 8-foot flats with bigger chunk rock and stumps.
“I believe the fish were feeding on pond smelt and that Easy Shiner was the exact size and shape,” Wilson said. “The way I rig the bait, it kind of fishes like a spy bait. You throw it out, count it down 5-10 seconds and then slowly wind it back.”
The bait proved enticing to smallmouth, but not all of the bites connected. After losing a few fish, Wilson knew he had to make an adjustment.
“I said ‘I can’t have this happen; I can’t be missing fish,’” he said. “So I added a treble hook to that EWG on the belly of the bait and then I never missed another fish.”
Around midday, Wilson gave his main area a rest and ran down to the dam where he fished flats with 5-7 feet of water and scattered stumps. This area produced one of his keepers.
Wilson worked the dam area with a finesse wire Alabama rig. He used 3-inch Keitech Easy Shiners in smallmouth magic on the teasers, 3.5-inch Keitech Easy Shiners in electric shad on the side hooks and a 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiner, also in electric shad, in the center position.