By David A. Brown
REDDING, Calif. — Sticking with what’s working, APEX Cup angler Nick Wood of Little Shasta, Calif. turned in another solid performance and tallied a two-day total of 24 pounds, 12 ounces to lead Day 2 of the Wild West Bass Trail Superclean Showdown on Shasta Lake presented by Bridge Bay at Shasta Lake and Phil’s Propellers.
A day after placing third with 12.13, Wood returned to the Sacramento River Arm and added 11.99. Leaning on local knowledge, he said the thermocline with water temperatures breaking from 48 to 42 degrees, along with river current dependably gather bait.
Wood’s area has an astounding forage buffet, but he’s tempting the resident spotted bass with a 4-inch Keitech Swing Impact in Tennessee shad on a custom dart head.
“The fish are there; I probably threw back 10-11 pounds today,” Wood said. “When I catch fish, they’re regurgitating live bait that they had just eaten.
“I think the key to getting bit is the cadence and the weight of the head. I switched to a little heavier 3/8-ounce head to keep it down deeper and I was just slow rolling the bait.”
Wood said he caught all of his fish on one key spot. He had other locations identified, but after Wood and a handful of other anglers found Day-1 success in the Sac Arm, Day 2 brought a predictable increase in fishing pressure.
“I stayed on one spot all day,” Wood said. “With a lot more boats in the area, if you moved, other anglers would (fish the spot).”
Wood said the key to his success was slowing down and getting fish to trigger. He reported catching fish all day and securing his limit by 9 a.m.
“After that, I slowly culled up all day,” Wood said. “I made my last cull at 1:30. I caught a lot of fish, but I never had a big bite — just cookie cutters. I did a lot teeter-tottering (balance beam weight comparisons).”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s championship round, Wood said he’s confident he can continue his productivity.
“There’s a lot of bait in the area, which tells me there’s a lot of fish in the area,” he said. “Also, (with a 10-boat field) I won’t have the pressure I had today, so I can move around a little bit.”
Cody Meyer of Eagle, Idaho is in second place with 22.99. After placing fifth on Day 1 with 10.33, he increased his productivity and added 12.66.
“I’m fishing in the Sacramento River Arm and there’s a huge wad of fish there,” Meyer said. “There’s definitely some big ones swimming around that we haven’t caught yet. The fish are scattered from 5-50 feet and you see a lot of big fish on your sonar.”
Meyer also found that the area’s bait abundance critical to holding a big population of hungry spots. His strategy involved triggering bites with a more aggressive presentation.
“All I’m doing is dragging a Yamamoto Hula Grub, but I feel the key is dragging it on a heavier head,” Meyer said. “I’m using a 3/4-ounce football head and dragging fast to create a reaction bite. I’m using smoke, smoke purple — more shad colors.”
Day-1 leader Phillip Garcia of Yuba City, California, added 9.99 to the 12.5 he weighed on Day 1 and slipped to third with 22.49.
Sticking with his Day-1 game plan, Garcia committed his day to a main lake hump that rose from 22 feet to about 10. The area had a lot of trout activity and big schools of shad.
“I’m circling the hump, throwing up on top and dragging my bait down to about 22 feet,” Garcia said. “I’m fishing swimbaits on 3/8-ounce ball heads and I’m using 8-pound P-line fluorocarbon because it falls with the bait. That allows the bait to stay on the bottom for the ideal presentation.”
Keegan Graves of Meridian, Idaho is in the lead for Big Bass honors with his 6.23.
Rodney Brown of Sacramento, Calif. leads the co-angler division with 21.88. Setting an impressive mark from the back of the boat, Brown bolstered his Day-1 weight of 8.26 with a Day-2 limit of 13.62 — the tournament’s heaviest bag.
“I had a better opportunity today because we were fishing slow rather than reaction baits and that let me use my bait more effectively,” Brown said. “I caught my fish on a Ned rig with a Z-Man Big TRD in green pumpkin goby.”
Fishing a main lake spot with medium size rock in the dam area, Brown fished his bait on 8-pound P-Line fluorocarbon. He caught all of his fish on one spot and had his weight by 9:30.
“It was a day that will never happen again,” Brown said. “I caught six and culled once.”
Brown holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 4.91.
Sunday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. Pacific Time at Bridge Bay at Shasta Lake. The weigh-in will be held at Bridge Bay at 3:10 p.m.