By Jody Only

LaGrange, Calif. – With a tournament total of 24.25, Garrett Maddex and Scott Burke bested the 75-boat field of the Wild West Bass Trail (WWBT) Northern California Teams Championship on Lake Don Pedro presented by BassCat Boats and Mercury Marine. 

Both California anglers, Maddex, of Escalon and Burke, of Oakdale ended Day One in 4th place, with a weight of 11.77. They brought 12.48 to the scales on Day Two to climb into the top-spot and claim their win. Their ascent to victory earned the team a BassCat Boat Bob Cat equipped with a Mercury 150hp Outboard.

Burke described a combination of years of experience on Pedro and a lot of good fortune as the foundation for the accomplishment.

“We have been fishing here for fun and tournaments for 10 or 20 years – 10 or 12 years as partners; but that being said, I’ve heard when it’s your turn, it’s your turn and that is sure what it felt like,” he explained. “We went into practice knowing it was fishing tough, knowing it was fishing different; but then we learned how different it was. We did find a few areas and knew we would really have to count on those areas to produce.”

They concentrated mainly on three creek arms for their fish – two were unnamed.

“We spent the bulk of our time in those two random creeks,” revealed Burke. “They weren’t major creeks, but they had the things we were looking for – bait and fish that were eating and birds. 

“The last day about 2:00 or 2:30 p.m., we went into Rogers Creek. It had the same things, so we gave it a try. We went in there with 10- or 11-pounds and culled to 12 ½. That’s the weight we ended up weighing in. We didn’t cull all of our fish there and spent the last hour trying to cull one more. We never did and just weren’t sure if we had enough to get there; but we did!”

The team used a two-prong approach to tempt their bites, starting with finesse presentations.

“Mother Lode anglers are famous for finesse spinning rods, light line, dart heads, shakey heads and drop shots,” Burke explained. “That’s what we did to get the fish fired up and when we would see them on the electronics, we would drop a spoon.”

There was no standout finesse presentation, soft plastic, or spoon for Burke.

“We used Keeper Customs and Roboworms in standard shad patterns and craw patterns and we have pile of 6-inch worms in every color in the bottom of the boat,” he said. “It didn’t really matter that much. We were just covering water with the trolling motor down, looking for activity. We would see little fish busting, but topwater wouldn’t do it. When we fished the bottom, we got the better fish. The fish really made us feel like they were on the move, and we just had to keep finding them.”

Burke said the win was a “longtime coming” for the teammates and expressed his appreciation for his team’s camaraderie.

“Fishing together really brings that out,” he added. “It is a key to success. Also, I am grateful for our wives and their support of our habit to fish.”

While Burke has no immediate plans for the winnings, Maddex is already on his way to Disneyland.

Trailing the leaders by approximately ½-pound, is the team of Randy Pierson and Bruce Harris, both of Oakdale, Calif. Pierson and Harris moved up one spot from Day One, adding 11.74 to their first day’s limit of 12.02 for a two-day total of 23.76.

Pierson attributed their success to longtime history on the lake and his plan to locate less obvious spots. 

“I really wanted to avoid fishing pressure, so in three days of practice, I put 11 hours on my big motor just to find areas,” he revealed. “The biggest thing that I found was that the fish were moving, and they were moving like I’ve never seen them move. We ended up with about three areas that had about 10 spots each – mostly main lake and Upper Bay.”

The team’s fish came from a depth range of 38- to 55-feet and fell to three main presentations – a spoon, Ned rig and drop shot.

“We used Kastmaster and Hopkins spoons in ¾, 5/8 and ½-ounce,” said Pierson. “They were chrome, chrome and blue and chrome and chartreuse. We fished the ¾-ounce on 15-pound Seaguar INVIZX and the other two on 12-pound.”

Their Ned rig setup included a Z-Man worm in peanut butter and jelly. Their drop shot held an 082 Keeper Customs worm or a Zoom Trick Worm in watermelon purple, a #2 Spearpoint GP Hook and a ¼-ounce Tungsten weight on a 10- to 12-inch leader.

“The Spearpoint hook was what really made the difference,” added Pierson. “I used 10-pound Sufix 832 in Coastal Camo to 8-pound Seaguar INVIZX. A key to it all was fishing extremely slow.”

This is the first full season as partners for Pierson and Harris; however, four years prior, they came together for a single event, resulting in a win at nighttime derby on the same body of water.

Slipping one spot from their first day’s seat on the leaderboard, Tony Franceschi, of Granite Bay and Nick Welton of Galt, rounded out the top-three with 22.51, putting together 12.30 on Day One and 10.21 on Day Two.

A good pre-event strategy made the difference for the teammates, according to Franceschi.

“My history on the lake is limited; but we utilized the practice time well,” he explained. “We found a successful bite both shallow and deep; but used our time to look for which was more consistently successful and that was the deep bite.”

The team’s targeted areas focused on main lake bays where they could locate large amounts of bait.

“It really was just one area,” Franceschi stated. “We were using (Garmin) forward facing sonar, looking for bait balls. The balls were more consistent. We were looking for fish moving through the balls and would stay on them until the fish dispersed.”

Weigh fish for Franceschi and Welton ate differently each day. The first day they fed more aggressively, and a prototype lure attracted their bass. The following day a drop shot got more action.

“The prototype is a new lure coming from 1st Gen Fishing by P-Line called the JawDropper,” said Franceschi. “It is a fish-shaped jig head with a squarebill made of lead and it ‘walks the dog’ when you twitch it.”

Their JawDropper held either a 4 ½-inch Missile Baits Quiver in Hillbilly Magic or a 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiner in Electric Shad. Their drop shot included the Easy Shiner or a 4-inch Roboworm. Both were fished in a variety of colors.

Of note, all of the aforementioned teams were fishing within sight of each other at varied times of the event. Each acknowledged and were complimentary of the respect that was offered from their competitors and for their competitors.

“Even with the proximity that we all shared water; we never had any conflicts” concluded Franceschi. “It all happened the way it should happen. It was exactly the way good sportsmanship should happen!”

The Northern California Team Championship at Don Pedro concludes the WWBT Team events for the 2021 season. Pro/Am, Arizona, NorCal, SoCal, and Pacific Northwest Teams, Kayak Series, and other events for the 2022 season are scheduled and are open for #LockItIn status now.


1Garrett Maddex - Scott Burke11.7712.4824.25Bass Cat Bob Cat with Mercury 150 HP($39,500)Bass Cat Bob Cat with Mercury 150 HP($39,500)
2Bruce Harris - Randy Pierson12.0211.7423.76$500$5,000$5,500.00
3Tony Francheschi - Nick Welton3.7712.3010.2122.51$375.00$250$3,000$3,625.00
4Anthony Prophet - Vern Westberg11.5610.0621.62$2,000$2,000.00
5Teddy Snyder - Jay Guterding11.439.8921.32$1,500$1,500.00
6Miles Kaneko - Justin Hurney11.219.7720.98$1,300$1,300.00
7George Carmichael - Ryan Wake3.7610.999.6420.63$375.00$1,200$1,575.00
8Greg Gutierrez - Ryan Brewer10.5310.0820.61$1,100$1,100.00
9Earl Dalton lll - Michael Coleman10.489.9420.42$1,000$1,000.00
10Kasey Rhyme - Troy Fleming8.2411.5919.83$1,000$1,000.00
11Dustin Maraviov - Luke Wilson10.948.4719.41$800$800.00
12Rod Cree - Matt Silveira9.1510.2119.36$700$700.00
13Gerry Johnson - David Homan10.638.2018.83$600$600.00
14Mark Lassagne - Jodie White9.389.3618.74$600$600.00
15Nicholas Cloutier - Joey Skym7.9910.6518.64$600$600.00
16Cliff King - Colby King9.138.7417.87$0.00
17Greg Paminto - Tom Mize9.268.4217.68$0.00
18Terry DeVincenzi - John Green8.558.3616.91$0.00
19Joe Mariani - Luke Lipanovich8.628.1716.79$0.00
20Jeff Michels - Tony Zanotelli6.4310.3516.78$0.00
21Mike Menne - Wayne Breazeale8.518.1316.64$0.00
22Mark Mello - Pat Leiser8.148.3316.47$0.00
23Jordan Padilla - George Padilla3.787.918.4016.31$375.00$375.00
23Clinton Isbell - Ryan friend8.098.2216.31$0.00
25Mark Gomez - Juan Acosta7.019.2516.26$0.00
26Tim Arthur - Josh Shapland7.548.6916.23$0.00
27Larry Vignolo - Mike Saso10.145.9916.13$0.00
28William Ponting - Eric Parra7.468.5916.05$0.00
29Ron Sanches - Nick Sanches8.217.4415.65$0.00
30Phil Eoff - Brian Barner7.697.9015.59$0.00
31Bret Gouvea - Colby Gouvea6.039.5115.54$0.00
32Miguel Vega - Travis Williams9.246.2815.52$0.00
33Chris Ochs - Jeb Bunker5.939.2315.16$0.00
34Jack Geist - Vance Hayes6.278.8215.09$0.00
35Mark Borges - AJ Borges5.269.3514.61$0.00
36Jim Vretzos - Ryan McGinnis6.967.4314.39$0.00
37Derik Dalton - Daniel Abella6.657.3814.03$0.00
38Brian Cogburn - Justin Crain4.6912.990.9713.96$375.00$375.00
39Andrew Maack - Eddie Rachel7.626.3413.96$0.00
40Mike Frederick - Chad Dibble3.7710.1413.91$0.00
41Ryan Mcintosh - Cory Caporale6.906.9213.82$0.00
42Clara Ricabal - Chris Childers3.88.345.3713.71$375.00$375.00
43Sean Kimble - Charles Immekus11.611.4713.08$0.00
44Joseph Price - Tanner Spohn6.166.8513.01$0.00
45Ryan Monaghan - Timothy Rhyme8.714.0312.74$0.00
46Shaun Walker - Ryder Walker6.465.9912.45$0.00
47Jamison Heaney - Shawn Heaney5.376.4211.79$0.00
48Richard Benzler - Tom Pelascini3.218.4311.64$0.00
49Dave Della - Dante Ray9.461.9511.41$0.00
50John Morla - Casey Cabral7.292.8210.11$0.00
51Matthew Abella - Daniel Abella8.310.008.31$0.00
52Jason Austin - Ken Mah7.840.007.84$0.00
53Joe Hinkle - Glen Lockhart7.790.007.79$0.00
54Josh Young - Joe Stout7.580.007.58$0.00
55Mike Friend - Shelly Carr6.710.006.71$0.00
56Brent Cline - Paul Foor6.680.006.68$0.00
57Brian Fesler - Ernie Haro6.650.006.65$0.00
58Matthew Frazier - Ish Monroe6.230.006.23$0.00
59Thomas Dodd - Steve Fredrick5.940.005.94$0.00
60Alvin Borba - Jaime Caratachera5.770.005.77$0.00
61Stefan Egan - Craig Egan5.700.005.70$0.00
62Mathew Clark - Matthew Plymouth3.051.814.86$0.00
63Jerimiah Valador - Scott Chappell4.660.004.66$0.00
64Ernest Lujan Jr3.770.003.77$0.00
65Robert Couts - Scott Helwig3.500.003.50$0.00
66Dominic Rea - Lance Collard2.150.002.15$0.00
67Gregory Troughton - Carter Troughton2.090.002.09$0.00
68Troy Gray - Steve Cooper1.230.001.23$0.00
69Ron Howe - Tim Meeks0.000.000.00$0.00
69Timothy Venkus - Rodney Brown0.000.000.00$0.00
69Robert Balderaz - Kevin Brown0.000.000.00$0.00
69Manuel Nevarez - Manny Nevarez II0.000.000.00$0.00
69Kevin Bridges - Mike Evans0.000.000.00$0.00
69Jared Boom - Charlie Kessler0.000.000.00$0.00
69Outlaw Barone - Jake Martinez0.000.000.00$0.00
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