By David A. Brown
REDDING, Calif. — Fishing’s not always exciting; in fact, some times it’s a real drag. But as long as you’re bending rods, it’s all good. Just ask APEX pro Scott Hellesen of Paso Robles, Calif. whose with Day-1 limit of 14.86 leads the Wild West Bass Trail Superclean Showdown on Shasta Lake presented by Bridge Bay at Shasta Lake and Phil’s Propellers.
With Shasta’s major arms heavily stained from recent rains, Hellesen stuck to the main lake and played a slow, patient game facilitated by calm conditions.
“The weather was perfect for what I needed,” said Hellesen, who placed ninth at the 2021 event on Shasta. “There was no wind, so I sat on one point all day, drug a jig on the bottom from 15-30 feet deep and plucked off a few nice ones.
“It seemed like the morning bite was deeper and as the sun popped through the clouds, they moved up a little shallower. I caught a couple of nice ones in the 15-foot range.”
Hellesen used a 1/2-ounce Garagetek Bait Co. football head with a green pumpkin Yamamoto Double Tail. He fished this bait on a Stealth Stixx Bounty rod and 15-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.
“I would throw the bait out as far as I could and make literally 5-minute long presentations,” Hellesen said. “It was the slowest I’ve ever caught bass.”
Hellesen caught about 15 keepers and found most of his action before 10 o’clock. Following a midday lull, he experienced another bite window later in the afternoon.
Daniel Eckhart of Laughlin, Calif. is in second place with 13.74. Bouncing around the main lake, he fished a range of depths and targeted multiple habitat features.
Noting that his day was a grind, Eckhart said he hit a dozen spots, fished in about 25 feet and caught 20-25 fish. His biggest was 4.49 pounds.
Eckhart said Dobyns rods and P-Line fluorocarbon were essential to his presentations.
John Dunn of Brentwood, Calif. is in third place with 13.65. Anchoring his limit with a 6.3-pound kicker, he fished creek arms and varied his targets.
“I was bouncing around between Island tops and points; I’ve been catching fish anywhere from 2 feet of water, all the way down to 50 feet.
“My primary morning bite with reaction baits is shutting off between 10:30 and 11 and then from that time on, I’ve been working really hard trying to scratch together what I could. I’m just fishing intuitively and finding things that look good and running off of past history and knowledge.”
Noting that he had marked several rock piles, points and creek channel spots prior to the rains, Dunn said he found some of them too deep to factor, but many were still in play.
Dunn said his reaction bite involved Fishin Magician Tackle Company vibrating baits and spinnerbaits. When that bite died, he switched to finesse presentations with homemade hand-poured craw and creature baits, as well as the FMTC Wraith, FMTC P.I.M.P. Worm on a shaky head and a FMTC Zek on Ned head. Dunn also threw a Riot Baits Lil’ Creeper Jig with a Riot Baits Tantrum trailer.
William Hume of Vacaville, Calif. is in the lead for Big Bass honors with his 6.51.
Andrew Janke of Warren, Ore. leads the co-angler division with 13.46. Taking advantage of the main lake clarity, he and his pro partner stuck with one spot and targeted scattered rock and red clay in 15 feet.
With his biggest fish weighing just under 5 pounds, Janke enjoyed an active day.
“I caught probably four limits of keeper fish,” he said. “The bites were coming all day; you just had to be patient.”
Janke said he caught his fish on a reaction bait, but he fished it with a slow technique. Essential to his success was a meticulous presentation that allowed his bait to bump along the bottom.
“You’d feel it come over a rock and just stop and leave it,” he said. “You had to really take your time and pick apart what was on the bottom.”
A fiberglass Warrior rod with a parabolic bend and 12-pound Seaguar AbrasX fluorocarbon enabled him to load up smoothly without pulling hooks out of a fish’s mouth.
Ugene Downing holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 5.49.
Saturday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7:15 a.m. Pacific Time at Bridge Bay at Shasta Lake. The weigh-in will be held at Bridge Bay at 3:15 p.m.