These sorts of Press Days are really a great deal for folks like me. You get to meet anglers that are out there involved in the sport in serious ways. The value added benefit is that I also get to mix it up with other writers and journalists who also cover our sport. The networking possibilities are great and, for me, it’s truly enjoyable to share some laughs with those I know and meet and learn more about those I don’t know personally.
The gathering took place initially at the Jackson Rancheria. It’s a short, easy paced drive from the Lodi area up Highway 12 to 88 to get to the casino and hotel and you won’t be disappointed by the trip. There are plenty of tables and slot machines to go around and the hotel provided a very comfortable room. I got there just as the dinner for the fishing guests was getting started, so I dashed in quickly and got a plate of food. I eased my way into a table that had room for me as well as some familiar faces.
Ultimate Bass Radio Host Kent Brown with two nice fish from our limit.
I’ve been a fan of Craig Gottwals articles in BassWestUSA magazine for some time and fondly remember publishing what I believed to be his first few fishing articles here on Westernbass.Com. Seated next to Craig were Dennis ‘Cal’ Shew and Alex ‘Zander’ Mei from one of my all-time favorite websites, TackleTour.Com. Zander and Cal likely weren't aware of it but I had just wrapped up my latest article for the Bass Angler's Guide and did a review of their fantastic website. And the last person at the table was pro angler Randy McAbee, who I had briefly met recently at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition but really wanted to talk to more. So I was pleased as punch right away and felt at ease immediately.
After eating, our host Kent Brown, got up and introduced everyone around and talked briefly about what was planned for the next day, out on Pardee. We also got paired up with who we’d be spending the day with and I was matched with Kent, which always works for me cause he’s just a kick in the pants to spend any time with and even more so in the boat fishing.
Kent tells a story as good as just about anyone I know and he started off the evening well with some stories about some of the folks in attendance and that got others talking fish stories and road show tales and what not. I can’t repeat a good portion of those stories, for a great many reasons, but I can tell you that these guys have seen it all at one time of another. And they remember the funny stuff as well as they can remember where they caught just about every fish they ever weighed in and the weights of every big fish they ever landed.
Fun Fishing Host Alan Fong with a 9.23 Pardee smallmouth bass.
It was a great group of assembled pro’s; guys like Elite Series Angler Greg Gutierrez, Bub Tosh, RJ Bennett, Dean McDaniel, Alan Fong, John Maes, Russ Graves, as well as Kent and Randy. The stories were fun but definitely an award-winning storyteller beyond compare is Bub Tosh. I was near falling off my seat, time and again, with his tale upon tale of angler’s triumphs and pratfalls, many about his own fishing and boating misfortunes.
We all went off to either our rooms or the casino after wrapping up dinner. I actually took some time to get a couple rods ready for the next day. I came completely unprepared and with minimal tackle so I figured I better get something together rather then waiting until we were on the water.
The rain came down heavily overnight and was replaced by some intense wind. I wasn’t sure what we could expect out on the lake. We pretty much all caravanned out to Lake Pardee and got things underway.
We were greeted, very cordially, by the good folks from the Pardee Lake Recreation Area, who checked all of our boats to make sure they came in completely dry and to determine what area they’d come from. Recent developments with the arrival of the Quagga Mussel to California waters have made it so that we can all expect to get inspected a lot from here on out, but that’s another story entirely. What I can tell you is there a simple form to fill out and it really isn’t a big inconvenience at all. The one word of caution is that if you are coming from south of the Tehachapi Mountains, you can’t put your boat onto Pardee or any other EBMUD lake, including Lake Camanche.
Ranger Pro Dean McDaniel with the big fish of the day, a huge smallmouth bass.
As I said before, spending the day fishing with Kent Brown is always a real treat. This day was no different. I caught a nice 3 pound rainbow trout in the morning session. We struggled to get bit by the bass until later in the day. Once we got on them though we did really well.
Kent threw a mid sized swimbait for a couple good fish and caught several more working a jig in 20-30 feet of water. He was really anxious to fish one fallen tree with that swimbait of his though. He worked that tree over pretty good and caught fish on it which you could see was getting him even more fired up about swimbait fishing.
I see more and more of my friends falling into that ‘trap’, hahaha. Oh the joys of the big baits!
I struggled big time with the jig as I really didn’t bring anything heavy with me, so getting down to work the bottom where Kent was finding the fish was difficult for me. But I did manage a beautiful 4 pound largemouth on a jig and plastic craw trailer.
As evidenced by the photos in this article you can see that not only did we did manage a decent limit but that Dean McDaniel and Alan Fong got the two largest smallmouth bass I’ve ever personally viewed, both fish weighing in over 9 pounds.
Getting together with this bunch of guys was a great way to spend a weekend. I can safely say next time I go up to Pardee I’ll be resting after fishing at the Jackson Rancheria. If you stop on by make sure to say hi to Bo Marks, our host from the Rancheria. Super nice guy and they run a nice, clean place in Jackson.
Editor’s Note: Pardee Lake will open the gates THURSDAY January the 31st for Campers and Recreational Vehicles only. The gate will be manned until 10 pm both Thursday and Friday for the opening. Fishing for shore anglers will begin FRIDAY morning at 12:01 AM and at daybreak for boaters the same day. The Pardee Lake Recreation Inc. Management Team and Staff are looking forward to welcoming all friends both new and returning.