Lake Shasta - June 5th and 6th

For many, the annual two day tournament at Lake Shasta is the Folsom Bass Team season's premier event. Members talk about it all year, and the event typically draws club alumni, myself included from Washington state. Some take vacations and spend several days at this majestic western bass factory. What's the appeal? Bald eagles, mountain vistas, hundreds of miles of shore line. And nearly all of it produces action. This year however, much of the action was off-shore. 3 of the top 4 finishers got on a top water bite that had them fishing over as much as 100 feet of water. Mike Melvin started on Friday winning an informal pre-fish turkey shoot for big fish of the day, a 4lb 6oz spot. In the tournament his first day limit was 8lbs and change, and normally that placed a competitor within striking distance for day 2, but it seemed this year was going to require a much bigger bag. Three teams had over 12lb limits on Saturday including Bob Gamble. Fishing alone Bob caught the day's big fish, a 5.32lb beauty that anchored his 13.69lb first day lead. The team of 2002 winner Mike Hara and last year's angler of the year Chad Dibble were second with 13.11lbs. Myself and my partner Don Stanley held down third with 12.49 followed by Steve Eason and Dick Moore in 4th with 11.24. Both the teams of Decker/Stanley and Eason/Moore commented this was on the most compelling top water Spook bite they had ever experienced. Fish careening out of the water in some cases several times in their effort to kill the Super Spooks they cast to schools of shad located hundreds of yards off shore. Both these teams were grinning at the scale and they agreed they didn't get excited until their boats were over more than 60 feet of water.

The team of Mike Hara and Chad Dibble were not surface fishing. Mike knew weather conditions were prime for Saturday's top water. He was also sure it would change for Sunday. Sunday dawned with crystal clear skies and cooler temperatures- the mild front having passed through over night. The few of us on that top water spook bite believed enough of the surface action would remain and we all agreed to gamble. So did Mike Melvin. Many Folsom Bass Team members share information- even between days of this tournament. Saturday night's catered barbeque is an evening of fellowship and fun, and the talk is about the fishing. Steve Eason clued in Mike Melvin and the team of Watkinson and Striplin with a pattern he was using and locations for throwing top water. Mike fished just one area until the moment he had to leave for Sunday's weigh-in at noon. For Mike Melvin, staying was a good decision. Steve made a comment that this kind of opportunity that doesn't come around often and everyone should get on this opportunity. On Sunday Decker-Stanley scored early when his partner Don nailing a 2.5lb spot on a spinnerbait in just his first few casts. He did an excellent job the entire weekend. Steve Eason and Dick Moore had a small limit by 6:30, but clearly Saturday's wide open surface action had almost shut down Sunday- almost. At 8am, Mike Melvin nails Sunday's big fish a 3.91lb spot, and has a limit by 8:30. Steve and Dick remained patient knowing each day the top water bite improved with bigger fish as the day moved on the Sun moved higher overhead. The bite turned on for Steve and Dick at 9am and they culled their limit on a location Decker and Stanley waited their turn to fish. Steve and Dick were thorough, so with an hour to go and a 30 minute run to the ramp, I huddled with Don and we agreed we could possibly cull the keepers in our tank on a location we discovered in pre-fish. It had somewhat smaller fish than our best locations, but with 30 minutes to go, Don brings one to the net that culls and we were on our way. Mike Melvin was still on the same location when we went by.

For good reason. Melvin weighs in the events biggest bag- 14 pounds plus and he waited it out while the top teams from Saturday take their turn in the drive by weigh-in. Mike Hara and Chad Dibble back up their first day effort with a 2nd day bag of over 10lbs. Then it's Steve Eason and Dick Moore's turn and they also weigh in over 10. While we waited in line, Steve walks back for a peak into our livewell, and says yeah, I think you got us Zip. I wasn't so sure and I was surprised when we weigh in 9.79. Hara-Dibble's consistent days were not dependent on the top water bite and they prevail and win the 2004 Shasta tournament with a two day total of 23.79lbs. Mike Melvin stayed on his spot and his huge second day limit catapulted him all the way to second place with 22.37lbs. Randy Decker and Don Stanley clung to Saturday's surface bite Sunday and hang on to claim third place with 22.28lbs. It was the weekend's top water bite that gave Steve Eason and Dick Moore the last of the 21+ lbs efforts of the event in 4th place with 21.52 nearly 5lbs up on the next closest team. There are many more stories to share from this event that will keep us excited for next year. Thanks to the Folsom Bass Team board for hosting another terrific event and I thank them for inviting me, Randy (Zip) Decker to participate and report on the action. Can't wait 'till next year!