Taylor torches EverStart competition on Clear Lake

LAKEPORT, Calif. – Mount St. Helens wasn’t the only thing that erupted today. With staggering weights coming off Clear Lake despite mandated four-fish limits, Sieg Taylor of Clearlake, Calif., exhibited some fireworks of his own, blowing away the rest of the competition with an eye-popping stringer weighing in at 30 pounds, 5 ounces.

Taylor’s catch capped an extraordinary day to say the least. With 152 out of 172 pros returning with their limits, the top-10 cutoff in the Pro Division came in at a staggering 19 pounds, 5 ounces – an amount that most anglers back East would have been drooling over even with five-fish limits.

“I feel pretty good, but a little overwhelmed as well,” said Taylor of his amazing catch. “A lot of things went right for me today. I didn’t catch a lot of fish, probably only about nine or 10, but I was able to get three big bites and that really helped.”

Taylor said the majority of his four-fish catch – which included largemouth bass weighing 10 pounds, 5-ounces, 9 pounds, 15 ounces and another at 8 pounds, 8 ounces – came from staging bass.

“I was using Lucky Craft reaction baits, working a 4- to 8-foot ledge,” said Taylor. “Most of these fish were staging and coming up to that ledge. It was just a great day. But I think the bite is only going to get even better tomorrow.”

Although Taylor had a day on the water that will be remembered for a long time to come, he said that he did have at least one regret.

“I was really trying to beat the record,” said Taylor, referring to the all-time EverStart one-day catch record of 32 pounds, 13 ounces, set last week by Allan Glasgow of Ashville, Ala. “I kept trying all day to get it. I also missed a few 5-pounders that probably would have put me over the top. But if I was able to keep five fish today, I think I would have done it.”

Unfortunately for Taylor, the California Fish and Game Department had given EverStart tournament officials a tough choice this week: Anglers could either catch four-fish limits and still be allowed to cull or they could catch five-fish limits with absolutely no culling. In the end, tournament officials decided to go with the four-fish limit.

Although Taylor was a tad disappointed over losing out on the record, he said he’s more than ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.

“I really want to make the top 10 because I think the fishing on Friday and Saturday is going to be phenomenal,” he said. “So, I’m probably not going to let up tomorrow. I don’t want to come back with just 10 pounds. I’m going to go out there to my good spot and work it, work it, work it. If I do my best, hopefully I’ll make that top 10.”

Best of the rest

Jimmy Walker of Alpine, Calif., netted second place overall with a catch of 24 pounds, 9 ounces, while Rus Snyders of San Mateo, Calif., grabbed third place with a catch of 23 pounds, 11 ounces.

Fourth place belonged to Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., with a catch of 23 pounds, 10 ounces, while Bernie Gaunt captured fifth place with a total weight of 22 pounds, 11 ounces.

Donnie Vachon of Lakeside, Calif., took home the big bass award after landing the largest fish in the tournament to date – an 11-pound, 2-ounce largemouth. He won $600 for his efforts.

Davis snags co-angler lead

Donnie Davis of New Castle, Colo., used a 20-pound, 14-ounce catch to grab the overall lead in the Co-angler Division, proving that even co-anglers can have a banner day on Clear Lake – arguable one of the best fisheries in the country.

“It feels awesome,” said Davis. “This is probably the best day of fishing of my entire life. I had a great partner and it was just a great day all the way around. I mean, I was culling 3-pound fish. What more do you want?”

Davis said he mixed up his bait selection throughout the day fishing in about 2 to 10 feet of water.

“We’re fishing grass and I just kept doing something a little different than what my pro was doing,” he said. “There was a lot of open water that I could cast to and that helped. This lake is just so good. There are lots of quality fish everywhere.”

However, Davis credited much of today’s action – and perhaps the best fish story of the day – to his pro partner. Davis said that when he met his pro partner this morning, he informed Davis that they were going to swing for the fences … literally.

“We ran out to where these two submerged fence posts were,” said Davis. “My partner said, ‘Okay, now cast over to those fences.’ I did, and on my third cast, I caught my 8-pounder. So yeah, we literally swung for the fences today.

“We just had a great day,” Davis continued. “We had our limits by about 9:30 a.m. so it was very relaxing. We pretty much played around the rest of the day. If we had had a five-fish limit, some records definitely would have been broken today.”

Beardsley nets second place

Kirk Beardsley of Huntington Beach, Calif., landed a 20-pound, 1-ounce stringer, to grab second place overall in the Co-angler Division.

“You know, I could do no wrong today,” said Beardsley, who also qualified for the top 10 at last year’s Clear Lake EverStart tourney. “We sat on the same spot and never moved all day long. We probably caught 30 fish today – and we lost at least two big ones. It feels awesome to be where I’m at right now.”

Beardsley had an innovative approach to fishing Clear Lake, using some hand-painted Rapala crankbaits to land the majority of today’s catch.

“I used lures that I hand-painted in my hotel room,” he said. “I got paint all over the toilet, but the lures seemed to have worked. They swam at a perfect depth, about 5 feet. I used them to target schooling bass on the front of creek channels.”

Like Taylor and Davis, Beardsley also believed some records would have fallen today had it not been for the four-fish limits.

“There are so many fish in this big lake, you have a chance of setting a world record on every cast,” he said. “And as it continues to warm up this week, it’s only going to get better.”

Best of the rest

Gary Key of Phoenix, Ariz., used a catch of 19 pounds, 12 ounces to finish the day in third place, while Kyle Clement of Anderson, Calif., took fourth place with a catch weighing 19 pounds, 5 ounces.

Greg Giacomazza of Spanish Fork, Utah, finished in fifth place with a catch 18 pounds, 4 ounces. However, Giacomazza also landed the day’s big bass award in the Co-angler Division, worth $220, after netting a 9-pound, 5-ounce largemouth.

World record talk fizzles

Over the past two days, the Internet was buzzing with rumors that an unnamed EverStart angler had shattered the world largemouth bass record with a 22-pound, 7-ounce catch. As it turns out, the Internet chatter proved to be nothing more than unsubstantiated rumors. According to multiple sources – including local fishing officials, tackle shop owners and area outdoor reporters – the real story was this. An angler from Reno, Nev., not associated with the EverStart event, did catch a huge largemouth bass. However, it weighed in just shy of 14 pounds and didn’t come anywhere near the 22 pounds, 7 ounces that was reported. According to area officials, the angler was merely participating in a lighthearted bragging rights tournament with two of his close friends at the time of the catch.

Day two of EverStart action on Clear Lake continues at Thursday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina, located at 2755 Mission Rancheria Road in Lakeport, Calif.