Jared Stone helps FPT anglers unravel Sonoma challenge

HEALDSBURG Ca. - One thing all competitive bass anglers must constantly be ready to deal with is change. Dealing with sudden change in the weather conditions, patterns that suddenly stop working, and equipment failure are just a few of the adversities anglers deal with throughout any given season. But change, like any challenge - confronted with the proper attitude, can often times work in your favor.

Fishing a Future Pro Tour event in 2004 on Clearlake, Wayne Antoine, and then partner Mark Daniels Sr., signed up early and received a fifth seed blast-off spot in a field of nearly one hundred and fifty anglers only to discover when they put the “hammer” down, that they had lost their lower unit – leaving them to fish massive Clearlake with only a trolling motor. Fish Clearlake in the spring without the benefit of a big engine? Some would have succumbed to their situation and taken themselves out of contention, crying upon deaf ears about terrible misfortune.

Not Wayne and Mark.

Both anglers met the challenge they were faced with head on, and fished around tule points within a stone's throw of the blast-off launch ramp, and at the end of the day, bested a field of 149 teams with a bag that nearly cracked the 30 pound mark.

Lesson learned? Sometime change can surprise you - for the better. And the northern region's Future Pro Tour anglers will have their turn at effectively dealing with change on September 20th, as they head to the Napa Valley to ply their skills on a lake that was put on the FPT schedule as a substitute for Lake Oroville, which is currently facing critical low-water conditions.

Resembling a small version of Lake Shasta, with its coves and creeks chocked full of standing timber, Lake Sonoma, and its 53 miles of pristine shoreline will definitely be one of the biggest challenges these anglers will have faced all year. But to help put things in perspective, and out of the realm of doom and gloom, many of those that regularly fish this clear water impoundment will quickly tell you why they are glad Lake Sonoma never makes it on the schedule of major tournament trails.

"What you have in Lake Sonoma is a smaller body of water that hosts tons of shad, an ENORMOUS population of largemouth bass and no spotted bass to speak of," noted Scott Green, Ranger Pro and general manager of Marine Unlimited in Santa Rosa. Largemouth bass this time of year roam in ‘wolf packs’ in those coves flooded with timber, and are ready to nail anything that moves on top such as Zara Spooks, Rico's, and even Snag Proof frogs fished in open water areas. When the sun gets up, most of these fish spend the rest of the day chasing huge schools of shad in deeper water outside of the coves and off the shoreline. And if you know what to do you can really get em’ good," he added.

I know that to be personally true as in 1992, I served as an observer in the first New Bass TOC ever held there, which happened to be the first bass tournament I had ever witnessed. I had no idea what a shad was let alone any concept of what a massive school of them looked like. Looking out toward the lake at the end of the dock near the main ramp, somewhat day dreaming, I just happened to glance straight down into what was very deep and very clear water.

What I thought I saw truly scared me, as a HUGE dark mass some twenty feel long and 20 feet wide slithered casually by, rising and falling in erratic pulses. Heart racing, I yelled at one of the guys tying off his boat regarding what I had just seen, and he calmly explained that it was just one of the big schools of shad that were being chased close to shore by the bass. For the record, the angler that made that comment was Norm Soderberg, who, also was very unfamiliar with Lake Sonoma, came away that weekend with the New Bass TOC championship and the keys to a new Ranger boat.

Change, and taking a positive approach to the unknown, can be a very good thing.

To help Future Pro Tour anglers get ready for Lake Sonoma and the challenges it will bring, we will host our traditional optional pre-registration seminar the evening before the event (Friday) at Marine Unlimited in Santa Rosa, the west's newest Ranger/Stratos dealership, from 4-7pm, where you will be able to hear two the area’s best pro anglers give you tips on how to catch late summer bass on Lake Sonoma.

Joining us will be FLW Stren Series champion and Ranger Pro Jared Stone, who lives locally and spends allot of his 'fun-fishing' time on Lake Sonoma when he’s not chasing points on the FLW circuit. Jared is truly a rising star within the FLW ranks and scored his most impressive win to date on when he won the FLW Stren Series event on Clearlake in May of 2007. He has also been a co-angler champion in FLW competition.

Also joining us will be Scott Green, general manager at Marine Unlimited in Santa Rosa, who is also an outstanding Ranger pro with a reputation for knowing where big bass live on deeper, clear water inpoundments, such as Folsom Lake, and Lake Berryessa. Scott also lives locally and KNOWS what Sonoma fish do and what they react to during the late summer months.

So for those of you that need help...you don't want to miss these informative seminars!

And for those of you toying with the idea of buying a new Ranger or Stratos boat, you will be amazed at the selection Marine Unlimited carries which gives you outstanding choices in boat colors and options. Trade-ins are welcome, and easy financing can be done on the spot. And don't forget to ask to schedule a demo ride! Late sign ups will be available the morning of the event in the parking lot at the main ramp, with $5 per angler limited memberships available for those that will only be fishing this event or just want to try out the Future Pro Tour.

So take heart all of you that are apprehensive about this lake change and the great fishing it may or may not bring. Remember….VanDam won the 2005 Bassmaster Classic with a three day weight total of just over twelve pounds…and it was the weight of the fish - relative to the rest of the field, which earned him his 2nd world title.

And you just might find - like Wayne, Mark and KVD, that adversity was just what the doctor ordered! See you all at Sonoma!