LAKESIDE, Calif. — Matthew Nadeau saw the extremes of El Capitan’s bass range and sampling the best of both allowed the pro from Nevada City, Calif. to take over the Day-1 lead of the APEX Cup on El Capitan Reservoir presented by DISH and Accell Marketing Inc. with a total weight of 30.89 pounds.
After placing fourth on Day 1 with 14.97, Nadeau weighed a Day-2 limit of 15.92 to establish a 1.85 margin over Austin Bonjour.
“I spent my morning primarily in the back of the main inlet (San Diego River) inlet to the lake,” Nadeau said. “I was all the way in the back to where my boat was literally sitting in mud. I was fishing in 6 inches to a foot of water.”
Nadeau caught his fish a Lobina Lures Rico popper and a Rebel Pop-R. The latter, he said, makes a little more noise and that seemed to be more attractive.
“It was pretty awesome, the fish were pushing bait right up to the shoreline,” Nadeau said. “I’m talking fins out of the water and I was catching them as close to the shore as possible.
“I was sitting 15-20 feet off the shore and my boat was sitting in mud, so these fish were unbelievably shallow. You could see them come up and slurp the bait and roll on top of the bait.”
Nadeau said retrieve speed was the deal closer: “I noticed in the river that I had to work my popper really fast with a back-and-forth action like a Zara Spook. I worked it slowly at first, but they wouldn’t bite until I started moving it fast.”
Around 9:30, a dwindling shallow bite compelled Nadeau to leave the river and try a deeper pattern. Locating fish suspended over 98 feet of water, he fished an unweighted Yamamoto Senko and caught a few key fish, including his biggest — a 6-pounder — after letting it sink about 15 feet.
“I was also catching them on a 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat on a 3/16-ounce head,” Nadeau said. “I was doing the same thing over 90-100 feet of water.
“If the fish came up slurping minnows, then I’d cast the 2.8 really quick at the fish that would come up and half the time, I’d be able to catch one if I saw it.”
Nadeau caught four of his seven topwater bites in the morning, then added three keepers when he went deep.
Hailing from Atascadero, Calif., Bonjour is in second place with 29.04. After placing 23rd on Day 1 with 10.74, Bonjour caught a Day-2 limit of 18.3 — the event’s heaviest bag — to make a big move.
“Yesterday I found what I capitalized on today,” Bonjour said. “I was still in practice mode and there were other competitors and locals in my area. Today, I had a better boat draw, so I just locked down in my area and caught ‘em.”
Fishing the back third of the main river, Bonjour caught fish on a 1/2-ounce Z-Man Chatterbait Jackhammer in chart white with a Zoom Super Fluke in disco green. He also caught fish on a dropshot with a 6-inch Roboworm in oxblood red flake with a 1/4-ounce weight.
Noting that the reaction and finesse bait produced evenly, Bonjour said he filled his limit by 8:30 and had his weight by 9:30.
Lamenting the stifling heat, Bonjour said: “My AFTCO Yurei Air-O-Mesh Hooded Performance Shirt helped me from getting sun burnt all week. That’s a life saver when it’s 90 degrees and there’s no shade on the lake.”
Rounding out the Top 5 were Luke Johns with 28.69, Joe Uribe Jr. with 28.36 and Christian Ostrander with 28.05.
On Day 1, Thomas Kanemoto of Elk Grove, Calif. tied Surprise, Ariz. angler Uribe for the top spot in the Most Scorable Bass Category with 14. Today, Kanemoto added 19 more to pull ahead with 33.
Returning to the small cove at the lake’s lower end where he caught his Day-1 fish, Kanemoto banked on the presence of baitfish to keep the bass close. However, when he found the fish less aggressive today, he shifted gears to a finesse approach.
“The fish weren’t chasing bait; they were on the bottom,” Kanemoto said. “There was a little ditch with hard structure and the fish were relating to that.
“I caught them dropshotting a 3-inch Keitech Easy Shiner and I figured out that they would eat a split shot rig with a Pro Worms Leach in smoke with purple flake. In the last 45 minutes, I caught six doing that.”
Uribe, who caught 10 Scorable Bass in the second round to tally 24, started his morning on the same underwater point he fished on Day 1. He got the ball rolling by throwing a Lucky Craft Sammy 65 in clear ghost on Daiwa spinning gear with Sunline braid and a Sunline fluorocarbon leader.
“The fish were coming up and busting shad and I was casting right on the boil,” Uribe said. “I caught six or seven doing that.
“When the sun came out, I pulled out a white double buzz and covered real estate. I caught some nice fish, including one about 6 pounds, doing that.”
Rounding out the Top 5 were Hayden Lee with 23, David Swendseid with 22 and Nick Wood with 22.
After two days of full-field competition, the top-10 anglers advance to Sunday’s Championship round. The final field will comprise the top-5 anglers with the Most Keepers and the top-5 anglers with the highest Total Weight. Total days weight and keeper count from days 1 and 2 are accumulated. In the final round, weights and keeper count are zeroed.
On Championship Sunday, the competition moves west to San Vicente Reservoir.