New Melones Recap – CTT, California Tournamnet Trail 2nd Place


Hey folks here in the West we have so many awesome bass fisheries, these lakes and rivers rate with some of the best fishing locations in the world.

My home water of Lake Shasta produces some magnum spotted bass and in my experience ranks up there with some of the best lakes in the country. But, I have got to tell you about my recent experience to another Northern California lake that has made me rethink about where I want to go to fishing for magnum spotted bass.

2014 CTT Melones Greg Gutierrez - 02I recently competed in a Pro/Am tournament event put on by the California Tournament Trail (CTT), the tournament was held on the Mother Load lake of New Melones which is located right out of Angles Camp in the foot hills east of Modesto.

First of all let me explain what makes New Melones so special, the lake is loaded with all kinds of bait, it has long flat points, steep drop offs, rock piles and all of it has wood on it. This makes for the perfect combination to grow giant spotted bass, and did I mention giant large mouth bass too?

So let’s get to the story of how my tournament week went and how I ended up catching 36.68 pounds and finishing 2nd place in the event.

My co-angler travel partner, Steve Adams of Bass Angler Headquarters (BHQ) and myself rolled onto the lake early on Thursday morning and our first run was straight across the lake to an area that had a steep bank that was covered by larger rocks.

2014 CTT Melones Greg Gutierrez - 10I often target these steeper banks so I can more quickly establish the depth the fish are holding. I could target the deep and shallow fish by simply casting to the bank in one foot of water and fishing out to forty-five foot of water.

As we located fish, I began running the main lake and the river arms looking for areas having something a little different from the surrounding area. I was doing this a couple of different ways.

First I was looking for rock or other formations that extend from the bank into the water. The second way was, I would use my Lowrance HDS system in a combination of standard sonar and StructureScan to determine the sweet spot on the structure where the larger fish were holding.

As we fished through the two days of practice we established several areas holding fish, we also determined the better grade fish were located in the 30 to 40 foot range and the fish preferred a more finesse type lure that was pinned to the bottom.

I used a couple of different lures to entice the larger fish to bite and of those baits, the most productive lure by far was a new Shaky Head being developed by Frenzy Baits.

The shaky head was tipped with either a Flirt Worm made by Reaction Innovations or another finesse type worm; the dominant colors were either Juicy (Reaction Innovation), watermelon or green pumpkin.

The deep presentation required the use of lighter line to be able to get the lure down quickly to the targets as they appeared on my Lowrance units. I was using a 7’1 inch medium spinning rod made by IROD with a large capacity/spool reel and 6 pound test Fluorocarbon line.

This combination allowed me to feel the more subtle bite and take up the extra line to drive the hook of the Frenzy Shaky Head into the harder mouths of the bigger fish.

During the two tournament days I had a lot of fun because I didn’t have to shake off any bites and I got to swing on everything that would bite the lure.

2014 Feb 22 CTT New Melones Day 1- - 016The first day I began out on a large flat, the fish were active and easily seen on my Lowrance units. I then began working around the main lake where I found the larger fish. Several other boats were in those same areas, but I was fishing a little deeper and I was targeting very specific structure in the areas.

I covered several key areas and caught a limit fairly quickly with a couple of 3 pound spotted bass in the limit. As the sun got higher into the sky I transitioned to areas up the river that had more vertical structure, steep bluff walls, bridges, and channel bends all held the type of quality bass to put together a limit of 19.81 pounds.

On the second day I changed my plan just a little bit, the bite out on the main lake points and flats had significantly slowed so as soon as the sun was high enough to make shadows on the water I headed up river and began to target those same steep areas.

2014 Feb 23 CTT New Melones Day 2- - 16I moved up the river and back down the river and put together a decent limit, however once the shadows were reduced it stacked the fish into smaller areas making it easier to target the fish, I managed to sack another decent limit of bass weighing in at 16.87 pounds.

So with limited time on the water I ran and targeted areas that had a familiar feel, I believe that was the key to my successful event.  I was confident and comfortable in my presentation and was fortunate to finish as well as I did.