Anthony Garcia dominates Native's Big Bass No Limit Tournament

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Anthony Garcia dominates Native's Big Bass No Limit Tournament

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The Big Bass No Limit Tournament by Native Watercraft was held at New Melones Lake. This was the largest kayak tournament in California’s history. This event had 182 kayak anglers signed up and ready to compete for their chance at one of the hourly prizes plus the overall total inch prizes. Native Watercraft also gave 3 kayaks away to winning anglers. The Big Bass No Limit tournament has a different format than the normal kayak 5 fish limit. This tournament you catch as many bass as you can and submit every fish that is longer then 14”. Lake New Melones was set up perfectly for the pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn, fish were shallow and biting. The water temperature was in the mid to high 50’s first thing in the morning and warmed up to 60 plus degrees, weather was calm and warmed up to the high 60’s. New Melones is one of the most fertile lakes in the Motherlode region which has a huge population of spotted bass and largemouth bass that all thrive in this deep clear reservoir. The 182 kayak anglers were not disappointed with how many fish they caught, but the fish over 14” were illusive. Many anglers said they caught 5 to 6 smaller fish before they caught a fish over 14”.

Anthony Garcia dominated the field of 182 anglers with an impressive 317.75” overcoming second place by 83.25”.

“I caught over 75 fish during the tournament, Garcia said.”

New Melones Lake is an amazing fishery. While interviewing Garcia, it was amazing where he caught his fish. Garcia found one pile of laid down logs that were stacked together in 22 feet of water. He saw the fish on his Garmin Panoptix live scope moving around the structure. (See photo). Garcia used a 3/16-ounce ball head paired with a 2.8” Keitech to catch his impressive limit. He sat on the pile of trees until the fish slowed down and then left for a brief time. Once Garcia returned, he found that the magical spot had been reloaded with another huge school of fish. He fished in the same area that he found a year ago and felt confident that the fish would be there – he was right.

“It took me over an hour to get to my spot.”

Obviously, Garcia’s long run was worth the time not fishing. He used the sliver flash for part of the day and then made an adjustment to a green pumpkin color.

“After changing colors, I was impressed how aggressive the fish became.”

Garcia thanked his girlfriend Amanda and my family for all their support. He also thanked his sponsors IRod, Oldtown Kayaks, Dakota Lithium, Simms, Big Bass Dreams, Defiant Fishing, Tackle Shack USA, Boonedox USA and Bass Slayer Baits.

Shaun Leytem finished in second place with 234.50” and had a 22” bass winning hour 8. Leytem made a 4-mile-long run to get away from the rest of the field. He headed south and fished cuts with willow trees in the middle of the channel.

“There was floating debris near the willows.”

“I used three different size Senkos, the 4”, 5” and the 6” to catch my fish.”

Leytem would use his Garmin live scope to see the fish and then cast to them. He would cast to the floating debris and let his Senko sink down.

“The fish would hit the Senko right away.”

Leytem focused on key locations that had freshwater draining into the lake with floating debris and willows. Leytem would use a bait caster for the 5- and 6-inch Senko but the 4 inch he would use his spinning rod spooled with 6-pund test, every Senko was Texas rigged. During practice, he found an island that had a large school of spotted bass feeding but during the tournament, he was unable to catch a fish. His last location was on the way back to the ramp that had the same structure.

“My last area, I caught 8 keeper bass. It was unreal.”

With 15 minutes left of the tournament he decided to make a run to a main lake point, but something told him to go back and finish his day where he caught the 8 fish.

“Something totally came over me, it was like Tony Moore was telling me to go back.”

Leytem stopped and turned around and went back to the same area.

“My second cast with a 4” Senko, I caught a 22” largemouth.”

Leytem used 6-pound test with the 4” Senko.

“The fish ran straight out of the wood to me, and I netted the fish, it was unreal.”

Leytem submitted that fish at 2:58 PM. 2 minutes before lines out. He thanked Marv In from Native Watercraft and the Native Watercraft team for putting on such a great event. Leytem also thanked his sponsors RBbass, G-Rat, Frenzy Baits, Rod Glove, Dobyns Rods, Pro Point Lures and Hook’d.

Greg Blanchard finished in third place with 232.50”. In Greg Blanchard’s own words, “Given that this was a different style of tournament in that you could either go for big fish or most fish, I was torn going into the weekend. I got to the lake Friday to practice and went looking for big largemouth in spawning areas. I found maybe 2 buck bass on beds but that was it and they looked like they had just moved up and were pretty spooky. I saw a lot of empty beds as well. All that said, I was catching a lot of fish anywhere from 10-20 feet of water on jigs and drops shots. No real size and mostly spotted bass. With not much to go off from practice other than a couple areas where I caught some keeper sized fish, I went into the tournament Saturday with the mindset to just go fishing and see what happens. I started out at a cove next to the Tuttletown ramp and caught maybe 20 fish but only 5 were over the 14” range in a 3-hour period. Everything was on a drop shot in about 10’ and at about 10 am I decided to make a long run south to the other spot I had caught a few better sized fish the day before. On the Way, I stopped at a cove and picked off two bed fish as well. When I reached the south location, the wind picked up, I believe it really helped the bite. I was catching numbers of keeper spotted bass on the drop shot in the same 50 yards stretch of bank. The key was that most of the bass were over 14” to add to my total cumulative score. The drop shot was a Berkley flatworm 3.6 inch in natural shad and also a 4.25 inch Berkley flatworm in GP watermelon. I was using PLine 16-pound SpinX braid with a 12 pound PLine Tactical Fluorocarbon leader. I want to thank Sierra Nevada and Terence Sullivan for once again keeping myself and the crew well hydrated all weekend!”

Top Ten:

1. Anthony Garcia 317.75”
2. Shaun Leytem 234.50”
3. Greg Blanchard 232.50”
4. David Poirier 218.00”
5. Kong Yang 196.25”
6.Brian Hackett 152.25”
7. David Morris 149.25”
8. Kolton Kruzic 134.25”
9. Paul Mata 131.25”
10. Max Lee 130.25”

Hourly Winners:
Hour 1. Brian Hackett 18.50”
Hour 2. Max Lee 24.00”
Hour 3. Ron Lewis 18.75”
Hour 4. Art Huerta 17.00”
Hour 5. Eddie Williams 19.50”
Hour 6. Michael Lavoie 19.25”
Hour 7. Ryan Murphy 19.75”
Hour 8. Shaun Leytem 22.00”

Daily Big Fish:
Max Lee 24.00”
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