Pro Angler John Maes at day 2 weigh in

By David A. Brown

REDDING, Calif. — Focusing on the food paid off for John Maes of Roseville, Calif. whose 2-day total of 26.15 pounds leads the Wild West Bass Trail Superclean Showdown on Shasta Lake presented by Bridge Bay at Shasta Lake and Phil’s Propellers.


Maes placed sixth on Day 1 with 13.26 and added 12.89 in the second round of competition. Heading into Championship Sunday, he holds a margin of less than half a pound over APEX pro Alex Klein.


“I’m using Lowrance ActiveTarget and I’m chasing bait balls and finding the better fish by size,” Maes said. “You can see the better ones and basically lead them.”


“Everything went almost identically to yesterday. There was just a hair more breeze, which I thought was going to help, but it actually made my spots slow down. I caught about half the number of fish I caught on Day 1, but I caught the same quality bites, so it was good.”


Maes said he began his day on the main lake, but fared best when he moved to the midsection of the Sacramento River arm late-morning. While his morning effort focused on hard bottom in 30-60 feet, Maes spent the second half of his day working flats off the river ledges, also in the 30- to 60-foot range.


“The fish were staying right off that drop-off and they were pushing bait up in there. I’d just sit there with my Lowrance Ghost trolling motor on anchor mode and wait for the bait balls to come. They’d come through about every 10-15 minutes and then I’d throw to a fish.


Maes weighed one of his first-round fish on a reaction bait, but Day 2 saw him catch all of his keepers on finesse rigs. He alternated between a Z-Man FattyZ worm and a Z-Man Finesse TRD, both rigged on a 1/4-ounce Ned head, and a Gitzit Tube on a 1/4-ounce tube jig.


Looking ahead to a final-round forecast calling for NNE winds of 20-30 mph, Maes said bluster conditions will probably require him to alter his game plan.


“I’m hoping I can do the same thing tomorrow, but I think it’s going to be too windy, so I’m going to have to run and try to catch shallow fish on a spinnerbait or an Alabama rig,” Maes said. “I hope I can get a solid limit early before it gets too windy, but it’s going to be tough.


“I’m right out in the open and the wind is going to be pounding me on every spot I fish.”


Hailing from Oroville, Calif., Klein placed second with 25.73. After placing 58th on Day 1 with 9.95, Klein mounted a huge comeback and sacked up a Day-2 limit of 15.78.


“The key to today was being able to get to an area that I couldn’t get to yesterday, because other boats were there,” Klein said. “I was fishing the main lake where it meets with the lower Sacramento River arm.


“There was a lot of bait in the area and I was targeting bank structure with a deep drop. The fish were pushing the bait up there.”


Noting that he started catching fish quickly in the morning, Klein said he made his last cull at 11:30. He caught his fish on 3.3 and 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbaits in the gold flash minnow and smallmouth magic colors.


Klein, who won last year’s Wild West Bass Trail Duel on the Delta, caught 15 fish today. He’s hoping the momentum he established carries him through the final round.


“I don’t know if I can go out and catch 15 pounds, but I think I can catch a decent limit,” Klein said. “It’ll all depend on whether I get a big bite. Shasta is notorious for needing a big bite.”


William Hume of Vacaville placed third with 24.87. Hume got off to a strong start with a Day-1 limit of 13.48, which put him in fourth place. Adding 11.39 bumped him up one spot.


After posting the big fish Day 1 — a 6.51 — Hume caught 15 keepers on Day 2. He fished the Pitt River and Squaw Creek arms in the morning and then transitioned to the main lake later in the day. 


“The fish are only really aggressive early in the morning and you only have a 2- to 3-hour window and then you have to run down to the main lake and throw finesse baits. I caught all the fish I weighed in the Pitt.” Hume said.


“I was targeting 10 feet of water on windblown banks and just trying to get a reaction bite. I was just slow rolling my bait on the bottom.”


Hume caught his fish on a Dobyns 736 fiberglass rod with a 6.3:1 Shimano Chronarch reel loaded with 20-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon.


Chad LeBlanc of Wheatland, Calif. is in the lead for Big Bass honors with his 6.35.


Andrew Janke of Warren, Ore. remains atop the co-angler division with 22.85. After posting a Day-1 limit of 13.46, which included a 4.98, Janke added 9.39 in the second round.


“Today was dramatically different,” Janke said. “On the first day, I caught like four limits of fish and today I culled twice. I think the fishing pressure on the lower end of the lake got so (intense) that the fish got more particular.”


Janke said that reading the bank and selectively targeting his casts proved beneficial. Red clay banks produced best, particularly after morning sun exposure warmed the darker bottom.


“I had to slow down even more today and go even smaller on my bait,” Janke said. “I had to go to a lighter weight and a smaller worm. I also went to 6-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.”


David Zavvar of Concord, Calif. holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 6.13.


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 3:00 p.m.


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