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By Jody Only

LA GRANGE, Calif. – A chance encounter with a TV show, helped Tas Moua, of Fresno, Calif., hone his competitive instinct to throw a spoon for the win at the Wild West Bass Trail (WWBT) Kayak Series on Lake Don Pedro presented by Bridgford Foods.

Moua topped the 70-angler field with 86.25-inches, which included not one – not two – but three big bass that went 17.50-inches. 

Shortly before heading to the lake, Moua caught a glimpse of a former California pro bass angler, Chris Zaldain, now transplanted to Texas, on TV competing in a Bassmaster event.

“I saw a clip of him flipping that big ol’ Magnum Spoon, catching 6-plus pounder and I said that’s what I want to do,” Moua shared. “I always tell people listen to that voice in your head or that gut feeling and right before I left, I saw I had three of them on my pegboard. I grabbed it and figured it wasn’t going to hurt if I took it.”

The lure turned into a game changer as it accounted for all of Moua’s fish. 

“I got a quick limit in the morning with the 5-inch flutter spoon; but there wasn’t much size to it,” he said. “I got the bigger ones on the 7-inch. When the bite slowed and I needed to get them fired up again, I would go back to the 5-inch. 

“I got a couple ripping it free from trees or brush. I was yo-yoing; but not real aggressively. Just enough to give it a little action, until they would snatch on to it and slowly, I just kept culling and culling.”

Moua threw his spoon on 17-pound P-Line Fluorocarbon. He alternated colors.

“I started with all chrome; but I lost that one,” he shared. “It didn’t seem to matter, because then I threw the Sexy Shad and it worked too. They just wanted something fast and flashy.”

Moua put in at Fleming Meadows and ran about 45-minutes with his Torqeedo 1103. He nostalgia fished an area he had previous success on. 

“It had some trees and brush – all the right ingredients I was looking for and all of a sudden I saw these schools of fish out deep in 30- to 40-feet of water,” he said. “They were suspended.”

Once his Lowrance Electronics lit up, Moua started on a gamut of lures to tempt a strike, but no go.

“I tried all the things you would think that would work and then I tied on that spoon,” he said. “As soon as I dropped down, I could see the school go down and I reeled it up and the school went up. I was doing a figure eight and it was going left, right, left, right. I knew it was a spoon bite and I got excited. I love catching ‘em that way.”

The runner-up spot was secured by Vinny Dau from Elk Grove, Calif. with 85.50-inches, anchored by an 18-inch big bass. 

With no practice under his belt, he credited his success to Spot-Lock and a jerkbait.

“I went in blind and kept on slinging,” he said.

Traveling from Fleming, Dau went two miles with his MotorGuide Xi5. He targeted a school of baitfish along the bank.

“I just got lucky going across the lake and found the baitfish up against the rock,” he shared. “I found them with my Lowrance HDS Live, Spot-Locked on and went through the school. After they moved, I chased them down with my trolling motor and followed the bait. When they dispersed, I went to finesse.”

Dau ripped a Megabass Vision 110+2 in ghost. It landed his three biggest bass.

About two hours into the day, his bite slowed, and he went to a drop shot. He rigged a 6-inch, straight tail Pro Worm in Morning Dawn with a cylinder weight and a Gamakatsu Size 1 Split Shot/Drop Shot. His hook to weight line stretched 8-inches.”

“I was just slow-dragging long, tapering points along the steep rock banks,” he explained. 

The drop shot accounted for the rest of his weight.

Dau expressed appreciation to Kayak City and Dakota Lithium Batteries.

Following his win at the WWBT California Delta Kayak season-opener and a 3rd place finish at Clear Lake, Damian Thao, of Fresno, Calif., rounded out the top-3 again with an even 85-inches. 

Thao hit the water after a solid practice with a plan in mind. He soon realized his pre-event strat wasn’t going to pan out and he went looking for new water. Using Garmin Panoptix, he located some suspenders. 

“I thought I would catch a limit in the morning, but only ended up with two keepers,” he said. “So, I went towards Graveyard and went over a hump on a point, near the main lake. It looked good. When I saw the fish on my electronics, I threw a Carolina-rig out there and got my big fish.”

Thao camped on the island top in 30-feet, casting to 60-feet, using both the aforementioned C-rig and a drop shot. Each down bait attributed to one of the two big bass he submitted – both17.50 inchers. The majority of his fish fell to the Carolina-rig.

“I noticed that when I threw out, the fish would follow my Carolina-rig all the way to the bottom and then they would eat it once it would hit the ground and change direction,” Thao revealed. “The same with the drop shot. If I was just vertical fishing them, they wouldn’t bite it. They had no interest until it would contact on the bottom.”

Thao estimated he ventured two miles from the Fleming launch and utilized his Torqeedo 1103 to do so. Fishing was slow for Thao, but steady.

“I really had to capitalize on each bite,” he said. “I would get a bite and then it would be another 30 minutes or so before I would get another one.”

Thao’s Carolina-rig held a 5-inch Zoom Brush Hog in watermelon red with a 3/4 -ounce tungsten weight on a 16-pound Sunline Sniper main line with a 12-pound leader. 

His drop shot was rigged with a 6-inch Roboworm in Margarita Mutilator and a 3/8-ounce cylinder drop shot weight, with 10-inches separating the hook and the weight. It was tied with Sunline Sniper in 5-pound-test. 

He used Gamakatsu hooks on both rigs.

The final stop for the WWBT Kayak Series will be the single remaining test of Thao’s current Angler of the Year status. The last stop for Wild West has Kayak bassers scheduled for lines in at Almanor on September 12

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