(La Grange - Saturday March 27) The fish were shallow and anglers were scoring on the huge prowling Don Pedro bass. The annual migration was in full swing and angler success was high.

However winter let it be known that she wasn’t going away any time soon as rain hit on Thursday and pounded the central valley foothills.

A month of warm spring like temperatures, which have blanketed the central valley, came to a screeching halt this past week when rain, wind and cooler temps returned.

Sixty-three anglers signed up to fish the first open team of the 2004 season. Many were catching solid limits of fish the past few weeks, but they also wondered what impact the weather change would have on the shallow cruising fish.

The teams were greeted with stiff winds as they arrived on Saturday morning. You could tell who the bed fishermen were by the concerned look in their face. The wind will eliminate all but the best bed fishermen.

The weather’s impact didn’t hinder the number of fish brought to scales. Twenty-two of the thirty-two boats brought in five fish limits. The anglers brought 110 bass to the scales weighing 274 pounds.

However, conditions did push the fish off the bank as anglers reported catching very few bed fish and the ones caught were the smaller buck bass.

Most of the fish caught were the cruisers that were backed off in 10 to 20 feet of water. Dropshotting and splitshotting seemed to be the tool of choice for angler success followed by Senko’s and jigs.

Fresno anglers Ryan Voorhees and Jeff Farmer took the title with a five fish limit that tipped the scales at 22.26 pounds.

The teams weight was anchored by Farmer’s monster black bass that tipped the scales at 12.94 pounds. “After we got that fish in the boat, I was shaking so bad I couldn’t fish for ten minutes,” said Farmer.

Their lunker fell victim to a green watermelon hula grub while the rest of their limit came on watermelon and green pumpkin plastics that were splitshot.

The team keyed on secondary points and “do nothing” banks on the main lake in 10 to 20 feet of water. They fished from Wood’s Creek all the way back to the weigh-in site.

The team thanked San Joaquin Chemical for their support as they accepted their 1st place winnings of $1,498. 

Second place went to Oakdale anglers Brian Ruthman and Victor Geis. Ruthman and Geis brought in an 18.00 pound five fish limit. Their weight was anchored by the events 2nd Big Fish, a 6.76-pound lunker.

The team keyed on rocky banks in 10 to 20 feet of water. They fished main lake structure from Middle Bay back to the weigh-in site.

For their great finish, Ruthman and Geis earned $1,073.

Coulterville’s Dave Holmes and Modesto’s Don Moorman finished 3rd with a five fish limit that weighed 15.96 pounds.

The team keyed on wood covered coves from one end of the lake to the other. They used green pumpkin Senko’s to catch their fish.

Holmes and Moorman thanked their wives as they accepted their 3rd place prize money of $672.

Rounding out the top five in fourth place was the Merced team of Micky Armas and Don Varney. Armas and Varney brought in a 14.76 pound five fish limit the earned the pair $408.

Fifth place went to Oakdale’s Randy Blevins and his son Austin. The team brought in a five fish limit that tipped the scales at 13.82 pounds. Their finish earned the father and son team $299.

Special thanks go 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.

We will be holding two open team events in May on Lake Don Pedro. The first one is our Mix Team event, which will take, place May 1, 2004. Our annual night event takes place on May 22 & 23, 2004. Check-in for both tournaments will take place at Flemming Meadows.

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.