That's a nice sack you got there!

When I started fishing again I wrote down a couple of goal's I had for myself and one of them was to win a tournament. I did not expect this to happen to me yet because my knowledge of the sport and  the techniques are still in their teenage years. Well, sometimes life hands you things when you are not expecting it and that's what happened to me at Santa Margarita Lake April 23, 2011.

This was a spring time tournament meaning shallow water bass bonanza! I reviewed my Santa Margarita Lake map and looked for some good shallow water flats. The back end of the lake, which is called the river, has the most productive water for this time of year. With the amount of rain we got this winter, there would be lots of newly flooded vegetation, great for spawning bass.

My go to lure would be the senko in watermelon with red/black flakes, pitched at isolated clumps of weeds and trees. I like the five inch size senko because I read in the book, Knowing Bass The Scientific Approach to Catching More Fish, by Keith A. Jones, PhD, that a bass's strike response is greater to soft plastics in the 4" to 5" length.

Driving up to the lake early in the morning with my dad I realized I had not gone to the ATM the night before to get enough money for all the options.  Time being an issue, I decided to just get in the basic tournament option which is $ 25. When we arrived at the lake I talked with the tournament director and he informed me a lot of good sticks were fishing this tournament and there was about 40 people in all. Whoops. Should have borrowed $ from pops, it was the chance for a nice check.

The day started off great! It was one of those days that I'll probably remember forever. I had a limit by 10:30 am. Once we were in the right stretch of water, it was fish after fish. I was calling out where I thought a fish would be, casting there and hooking into them. I was the Babe Ruth of Bassin that day! With success in life comes a few failures along the way and even this day had a few. I lost a couple good fish one that could have been big fish of the tournament. The big one I lost kind of popped off leading me to believe my drag was a little too tight. I also noticed my hook sets weren't that strong which I believe is because my rod is a little short; ) I use a 6'6" rod when I should probably be using a 7 footer. My final weight for the day was 18.14 pounds, one hell of a bass sack, good enough for first place out of 39 guys!

My culling system. Those are some big bass baby!
Another lesson learned this trip was about fishing etiquette. As the saying goes in life, treat others the way you want to be treated, same rules apply in fishing. Give others their space and don't be nosey while the tournament is going on. I had another fisherman who I had a small conversation with earlier in the day kind of mosey over my way when he noticed me catching fish. He asked me what I was doing, which I should have ignored but since I fish for the thrills not to pay my bills, I told him. I would never ask another angler what he was using and get close to him while he was fishing. At the end of the day I might ask a few questions, but definitely not during the competition.

The ride back to the weigh in. 

Pops with a good sack!
Feeling like a bass boss!
Now that's a sack! 
Since I was the champion I got to do an interview with Wayne Shaw the outdoor writer for the local paper. On the phone he was very nice and I told him the story of how I caught the fish and the techniques that I used, but like society tends to do he focused on the negatives in his article. Really rubbing it in that I did not get in all the money options. To be honest, I thought that by being in the basic tournament option I would be able to win some money, but so sorry:( Anyway, I lost out on $435 but like I said earlier I fish for the thrills not to pay my bills.

Bass Ambushers Article in the Tribune

Below is another article Wayne wrote about me when I was in high school. He is kind of a hater.