Although the mornings have remained crisp and chilly, spring like temperatures have blanketed the central valley foothills during the afternoon for the past week.
With the warming temps, many were beginning to envision the annual migration of huge Pedro bass onto the staging areas around the lake.
Instead anglers were reporting that the bite had become progressively tougher as the week passed by.
The early talk predicted a winning weight of twenty plus pounds. But by the time Friday’s pre-fish ended, the estimate had declined considerable with many saying it would only take fifteen to seventeen pounds to win.
But this time of year on Don Pedro anything could happen and soon the stories of the day would begin to unfold as the competitors began to arrive for the afternoon weigh-in at Blue Oaks.
The end of the week prognosticators proved to be correct, as the bite had toughened for many of the competitors. Only nineteen of the thirty-seven boats were able to muster a five-fish limit.
The bite was slow as the majority of teams reported catching their fish on worms that were dropshot, splitshot and dart headed.
The anglers brought in 140 bass weighing 278 pounds. The teams averaged 3.78 fish per boat with an average weight of 1.99 pounds.
It was back to back for Oakdale pro Randy Blevins, who took the Pedro title last year. Blevins and partner John Gentry, of Oakdale, brought in a five fish limit that tipped the scales at 16.68 pounds. The teams weight was anchored by Gentry’s 5.42-pound lunker that took 2nd big fish in the Am division.
The pair keyed on shallow cuts on rock banks in 40 feet of water. They started in Woods Creek then fished main lake spots back to the weigh-in. They used 6” #261Pro Worms on 1/8 ounce dartheads with St Croix rods, Shimano reels and 8 lb P-Line Fluoroclear.
Blevins thanked his sponsors, Escalon Bait & Tackle, Quality Rock and C&C Marine, as he accepted $2,283 in winnings. Gentry took home $1,182 for a team total of $3,465.
Second place went to Valley Springs pro Rich Hamilton and his partner Ken Long, of Turlock. Hamilton and Long brought in a 14.58-pound five-fish limit. Long’s 6.82 toad, which took big fish honors for the event, helped seal their finish.
The pair caught their fish by dropshotting Keeper 082 worms on Loomis rods, Shimano reels and 8 lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon.
They fished rock laden points and cuts in the canyon and six-bit. All their fish were caught in 30-40 feet of water.
Hamiltonthanked his wife Valerie and daughter Rachael for all their support as he took home $1,627 while Long earned $928 for a team total of $2,555.
Riverbank pro, Jeff Frey and partner Dave McEwen, of Fresno, finished 3rd with a five-fish limit weighing 13.32 pounds. Frey’s 3.16 lb bass, which was tied for 2nd big fish in the Pro Division, helped anchor their finish.
Rock was also the key for their great finish as they fished creek channels from the bank to 30 feet deep. They spent their day in the main lake.
Flexibility helped the team’s success as they caught their fish by dropshotting 6” #809 Predator worms, dragging brown Strike King jigs tipped with brown Super Pork and ripping a green Fluke soft jerkbait. All on Seaguar Fluorocarbon line in 6-15 lb test on Shimano reels and St. Croix rods.
Frey who is sponsored by Autolife Outdoors, St Croix rods and Super Pork, won $1,050 while McEwen took home $452 for a team total of $1,502.
Rounding out the top five in fourth place was Soquel pro Larry Sanders and his partner Marc Hinton, of Fremont. Sanders and Hinton brought in a 12.64-pound five-fish limit. Sanders took home $651 while Hinton took home $152 for a team total of $803.
Fifth place went to Fresno pro, Ryan Voorhees and his partner Jeff Morgan, of Castro Valley. The anglers brought in a five-fish limit that tipped the scales at 12.32 pounds. Voorhees earned $417 while Morgan took home $120 for a team total of $537.
A 3.50-pound bass took Big Fish honors in the Pro Division and helped seal 6th place for Modesto pro Norval Pimentel. Pimentel took home $533 for his finish.
Tied for 2nd Big Fish in the Pro Division was Waterford pro Jason Remmers. Remmer’s 3.16-pound bass netted him $75.
Randy Blevins moved into 1st place in the Pro Division Angler of the Year Points Race with 312 points. Clovis pro Jeff Mathews slipped into second with 307 points. Pro Angler of the Year champion earns $750 in 2005 entries.
Modesto’s Bill Clayton moved into 1st place in the Am Division with 314 points. Following close behind is Dave McEwen with 311 points. Am Division Angler of the Year champion earns $375 in 2005 entries.
New for 2004 is Nor-Cal’s push to encourage new pro’s to join our circuit. As an incentive to fish Nor-Cal Pro-Am’s, we have added the Bob’s Marine Pro Rookie Bonus Cash and the Thompson Chevrolet Pro Rookie Point’s Race.
The Bob’s Marine Pro Bonus Cash awards $100 to the highest finishing pro at each event, who is fishing in their first season as a Nor-Cal pro. The bonus cash at Don Pedro went to Sonora pro Bruce Wallace for his 7th place finish.
The Thompson Chevrolet Pro Rookie Point’s Race tracks the same anglers throughout the season and awards a prize package at the end of the year worth several hundred dollars. Kerman pro Tim Turner took over sole possession of 1st place with 300 points. In 2nd place is Fresno pro Sieg Taylor with 297 points.
Thompson Chevrolet is also offering special pricing on new vehicle purchases through their dealership in Patterson for all Nor-Cal members. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, shop around and then come to Thompson and see what Nor-Cal pricing can save you is!
Special thanks goes to our tournament trail sponsors, Stratos Boats and Evinrude Outboards. Because of their support, Nor-Cal Bass will be awarding a fully rigged Stratos/Evinrude prize package at their Pro Championship tournament. Visit Bob’s Marine to take a look at this great boat and motor combination!
Thanks also to our official rod sponsor, St Croix,for supporting our anglers and awarding their quality built rods at the Nor-Cal Bass Pro Championship.
Nor-Cal Bass Tournament Trail sponsors are: Stratos Boats, Evinrude Outboards, Bob’s Marine, St Croix Rods, Thompson Chevrolet, Autolife Sporting Goods, Escalon Bait & Tackle, Tom’s Truck Repair, Tracy Oasis Marina, Del Taco Manteca/Oakdale, Thermo Oil Batteries, Super Pork, Keeper Custom Worms, Predator Worms, McClure Painting & Plastering, Hildebrand’s Auto Repair and PMZ Realty.
The fourth stop on our 2004 Pro-Am season takes place April 10, 2004 on the California Delta. Check-in will take place at Buckley Cove (Ladd’s). Mandatory Check-in is from 4:00 am to 5:00 am on the morning of the event.
Our first open team of the season takes place on March 27, 2004 at Lake Don Pedro. Check-in will take place at Flemming Meadows at the store.
The Stratos Boats Western Regional takes place at Clear Lake on April 2 & 3, 2004. For more information on this exciting event visit our website.
For more information on our tournament trail and our 2004 schedule, visit our website, www.nor-calbass.com, or call (209) 634-8754.