By Jody Only

LAKESIDE, Calif. – California fishing partners Justin Hanold, of Poway, and Josh Parck, of Highland, defeated a 45-boat field at El Capitan Reservoir at the third stop of the Wild West Bass Trail (WWBT) Southern California Teams. The partner’s five-fish limit weighed in at 28.14 and boasted the event’s Big Bass at 13.39, putting total winnings for the pair at $3,675, including contingency dollars from P-Line as well as the Big Fish payout.

Parck humbly qualified their win and their teener catch as “lucky”.

“You know, I’d rather be lucky than good,” he said. “But actually, it is the third 13-pounder that Justin and I have weighed in a tournament.”

Although a sprinkling of luck is always welcome, Parck and Hanold did put in pre-event work to narrow down their target area. He described their location as offshore, with bluegill beds and nearby spawning shad. 

“We found it practice,” he said. “The fish weren’t up shallow, like we had expected. Using our Garmin Panoptix, we could see that they had moved off. We were fishing about 50-feet offshore in about 10- to 12-feet of water. Visibility was maybe a foot.”

He reported boating 20 to 25 fish on the day, all on reaction baits.

“We were throwing, crankbaits, ChatterBaits and there was a little bit of a swimbait bite,” added Parck. “The ChatterBaits were in shad colors and natural colors, like white and chartreuse. We stuck to 10- to 12-foot deep diving crankbaits, in shad and bluegill colors. We caught more on the shad color stuff; but the bigger fish were on the green pumpkin ChatterBait.”

Their double-didge fell to a ½-ounce Z-Man Evergreen Jack Hammer with a Gary Yamamoto Zako, both in green pumpkin, tied with 20-pound Seaguar AbrazX.

The teener’s bite and fight duped them into thinking it was a catfish.

“When it came up and did a tail slap, we almost just snapped it off,” Parck recalled. “I was just thinking there is no way this is a bass. When we finally saw it was a bass, it was surreal. I didn’t know how big it was; but I knew it was huge. We normally play it pretty close to the vest and don’t get loud or anything; but with this one we kind of got a little loud. There were boats around us; so, there was no hiding it. 

“We weren’t sure how big it was and didn’t weigh it when we caught it. We were thinking it could’ve been 12 or it could’ve been 14. You don’t get to see that size of fish – with your eyes – out of the water – very often; so, we just didn’t know.”

The team had filled out their limit, with the kicker in the box by 8:00 a.m. 

“We culled by ounces as the day went on, but no real big ones,” he said. “Except a five-pounder we broke off on a swimbait, but that one didn’t make it in.”

Their final five put them over a pound above the runner-up. It secured their win and their goal to break 20-pounds for Angler of the Year points.

The team has been fishing off and on for 15-years. They plan to put their winnings toward hunting gear.

The final stop of the WWBT SoCal Teams will be at Diamond Valley Lake on June 5. Registration is underway.