I’m seeing spots, and I mean I lot’s of spots! We just finished the 4th tournament on the California Tournament Trail (CTT) held on Lake Shasta and the bite was absolutely awesome!
These are the kind of tournaments that are really fun! You can A LOT of fish anywhere on just about anything. The key to this tournament was to get a good kicker each day and Shasta has some giant spotted bass and giant largemouth too!
I like to catch spots so I really keyed in on them in at this tournament; based on the time of year, fluctuating weather patterns and rising made it quite an interesting tournament.
Multiple patterns were working and like I said you really needed a big fish or two to do well. One of the main bait choices on Shasta for a big bite is a swim bait, so of course that’s what I did and more.
I ran the banks throwing a Roman Made Negotiator looking for one of those giant Shasta spots to come up and crush the lure but could only get 2 pounders to peek at my lure. I also threw a deep diving Duo Realis jerk bait and crank bait but again just smaller bass were eating the reaction baits. And of course I threw a Frenzy Baits umbrella rig and had a lot of fish crash the bait but they weren’t pinning up and when they did they were squeakers.
So having only limited success with throwing reaction baits you know what I had to do,.. out came the finesse rods. Now don’t be confused I could catch fish on any of the plugs I was throwing, I just didn’t feel like I could catch enough big fish to do well in the tournament so I pulled out the light line.
I like to use a little longer spinning rod with l light tip and enough backbone to fight a big fish. I used 10 pound Fluorocarbon on a IROD IRG712 spinning rod to toss the usual baits like dart heads, shaky heads and drop shots and found some success.
As I covered some of the same areas I covered with reaction baits it seemed to me the fish would eat a finesse bait but they wanted the bait firmly planted the bottom.
I covered a lot of water during practice and managed to see a few fish on beds and at one point found 2 giant (6+) spotted bass on beds. But mainly I found that the dart head and especially a shaky head would produce the larger 2 and 3 pound fish so I had a plan.
So after two days of practice it was time to blast off; I had my day planned out and the first stop would be a point that had a ton of fish on it. I was armed with my “Dave San” colored Negotiator tied up on an IROD Bama Rig Special and I knew if I was going to get a big bite it would be with this set up some time during the low light period.
As blast off started and I traveled down the lake I couldn’t help but notice every one else must have had the same idea and every point had a boat on it, so I had to make a quick adjustment and decided to hit an open bridge piling and wait for a point to come open.
I caught a quick limit of squeaker bass but 7 or 8 pounds wasn’t gonna get it done, I needed a big bite! As soon as the point I wanted opened up I shot over and threw my Negotiator, nothing! We did catch some fish on some a dart head and shaky head but we only bumped up the weight to 8.5 pounds…woo hoo!
It was time to move and so I started “point hopping”, up the lake. I had a plan and it was a simple plan “big rod, long cast, big splash reel in the Negotiator”. Still nothing. As I worked around those points I began to notice several larger marks on my Lowrance units suspending off the bottom at the 10′ level.
I began dropping on the fish and would pick up a decent fish from time to time, so I worked further up river to check on a spot that I had found some good fish on a couple of weeks before. It was a wolf pack of spots that ranged from 3 to 5 pounds and was worth looking at for sure.
As I worked the area I could catch a fish on almost every cast but they were small and I wasn’t upgrading my limit. I kept a sharp eye on my electronics and my Lowrance HDS unit showed me it was worth hanging in there because I could see some giant marks and I knew the larger fish were still in the area. It was a good call for us because I ended up with a good spotted bass that was around 4+ pounds.
By 11:30 it was time to move again. We stopped along the way concentrating on high reward areas and one thing I remembered from the morning was seeing the fish hanging in 10 foot of water. So I would roll up to a point and make a long cast trying to put the bait in 10 foot or less water.
I was using larger 6 to 7 inch worms on a Frenzy Baits prototype shaky head or dart head, colors like Juicy from Reaction Innovations or other finesse type baits were baits of choice. I would let the bait soak for at least 30 seconds before I moved it and usually I would have a fish on when I tightened up on the bait.
I made a stop and had just made a long cast, I had to reposition the boat so the normal 30 seconds took about 45. As I went to tighten up the line I couldn’t make contact with the bait so I reeled as fast as I could to take up slack. When I hit the fish there was no mistaking I had set on a stud fish, after a long fight we landed another 4+ spot.
Now it was time to go after one of those big studs I had seen on the beds during practice. There were a couple of local fun anglers working the area so I pulled up to the closest first. That was a mistake; because that fish was gone and when I pulled around the corner I got watch a family pull in and beach their house boat right on top of the second fish.
I bailed out of the area and decided to finish the day throwing the Negotiator. I caught a bunch of fish on the swim bait but they were small 2-pound spots.
Day 2 was very different, I stuck with the same plan but found it difficult to pin-up a fish. I was getting plenty of bites but they were short biting the larger worms. Those short bites really cost me on one of my best stops; I managed to hook into an absolute giant after several seconds the fish pulled off.
I covered the usual high percentage areas and made my way up to the wolf pack of spots. My partner and I caught fish after fish but no size, after what seemed like forever my partner hooked into a 3+ spot.
We continued to work the area I finally ended up catching another 3+ spot and another 2+ spot, I did manage to break another 2+ spot off during the afternoon but never really upgraded and only managed 11 pounds.
So that’s it, my thumbs are starting to heal up from catching so many fish over the 4 days of fishing. If you are looking for a place to catch fish then Shasta is the lake because you will catch tons of bass.
If you are looking for a quality, well run tournament circuit to fish in check out the California Tournament Trail (CTT). These guys really have their act together.
Good luck fishing,
Greg (Double-G) Gutierrez