Bassmaster Open Lake Amistad Texas February 2014

Bassmaster Open Lake Amistad Texas February 2014

Twelve miles northwest of Del Rio Texas where the Rio Grande and the Devils River converge on the Texas Mexico border you will discover Amistad Reservoir. Troy and I are, once again, on a road trip taking us over 1,200 miles away from the Pacific Ocean and our home the City of Los Angeles to compete in our first B.A.S.S. event.

Twelve miles northwest of Del Rio Texas where the Rio Grande and the Devils River converge on the Texas Mexico border you will discover Amistad Reservoir.  Troy and I are, once again, on a road trip taking us over 1,200 miles away from the Pacific Ocean and our home the City of Los Angeles to compete in our first B.A.S.S. event.

Twelve miles northwest of Del Rio Texas where the Rio Grande and the Devils River converge on the Texas Mexico border you will discover Amistad Reservoir.  Troy and I are, once again, on a road trip taking us over 1,200 miles away from the Pacific Ocean and our home the City of Los Angeles to compete in our first B.A.S.S. event.

Amistad is the Spanish word for "friendship", suitably given to this reservoir and Dam constructed in 1969 and managed by both the United States and Mexico. The reputation that Amistad holds is that of a premier bass fishery. Fishing new water, a new league and new challenges, I'm excited!

Amistad is the Spanish word for "friendship", suitably given to this reservoir and Dam constructed in 1969 and managed by both the United States and Mexico. The reputation that Amistad holds is that of a premier bass fishery. Fishing new water, a new league and new challenges, I'm excited!

Some of the Sights Along the Way

Heron Island Lake Havasu Arizona California Border  

Heron Island Lake Havasu Arizona California Border

 

Sunset Phoenix AZ

Sunset Phoenix AZ

Cruising through El Paso Texas looking at Juarez Mexico across the border

Cruising through El Paso Texas looking at Juarez Mexico across the border

Boat trailers included we are certainly not in California. Sammy Hagar would have a tough time pulling a boat in California.  West Texas Highway 10 E.

Boat trailers included we are certainly not in California. Sammy Hagar would have a tough time pulling a boat in California.  West Texas Highway 10 E.

We've made it, two long days of driving, Diablo East Road launch ramp Amistad National Recreation Area

We've made it, two long days of driving, Diablo East Road launch ramp Amistad National Recreation Area

Time for Pre-Fish

Prior to this event  one might think of Amistad with thoughts of big bass catches and very heavy limits. We have hit this lake with a bite as low as the water levels. Anyone in this tournament would be thrilled to have this catch! You would be extremely hard pressed to cull this fish during this event.

Prior to this event  one might think of Amistad with thoughts of big bass catches and very heavy limits. We have hit this lake with a bite as low as the water levels. Anyone in this tournament would be thrilled to have this catch! You would be extremely hard pressed to cull this fish during this event.

Every time I fish Texas White Bass want to make the news.  On the Devils River catching two birds with one stone! 

Every time I fish Texas White Bass want to make the news.  On the Devils River catching two birds with one stone! 

Indian Cliffs Devils River

Indian Cliffs Devils River

Slaughter Bend Devils River, boulders  visible and sub-surface they are scattered throughout the area. The name Slaughter Bend must indicate someone got jack-up here.

Slaughter Bend Devils River, boulders  visible and sub-surface they are scattered throughout the area. The name Slaughter Bend must indicate someone got jack-up here.

One of the larger trees on the Devils  and anywhere I've been fishing!

One of the larger trees on the Devils  and anywhere I've been fishing!

Striper and A-rig fun, amazing how they always hit the larger trailing off colored (orange throat) lure!

Striper and A-rig fun, amazing how they always hit the larger trailing off colored (orange throat) lure!

More A-rig fun, even better when it's a largemouth, very cool Troy!

More A-rig fun, even better when it's a largemouth, very cool Troy!

A catch spits up a clue, bait size.

A catch spits up a clue, bait size.

Pre-fish day two, blue skies and blue water Rio Grande River on the Texas shoreline - El Norte.

Pre-fish day two, blue skies and blue water Rio Grande River on the Texas shoreline - El Norte.

This bank looks great, the structure comes apart creating cover, plus factor shadow lines - Rio Grande Mexican shore.

This bank looks great, the structure comes apart creating cover, plus factor shadow lines - Rio Grande Mexican shore.

The bass aren't up in the water column near the shoreline but when their prey is they will follow, I see some very nice casting angles.

The bass aren't up in the water column near the shoreline but when their prey is they will follow, I see some very nice casting angles.

Bluff walls between Rough Canyon and Live Oak Creek.

Bluff walls between Rough Canyon and Live Oak Creek.

Power Poles are very popular in Texas, Rio Grande River.

Power Poles are very popular in Texas, Rio Grande River.

U.S. Border Patrol, behave yourself. There should be several Go Pro's on that ride!

U.S. Border Patrol, behave yourself. There should be several Go Pro's on that ride!

Flooded trees Canyon Del Tule Mexico

Flooded trees Canyon Del Tule Mexico

'Flying Buttress' points on a...

'Flying Buttress' points on a...

... steep canyon wall, near the Cow Creek Split

... steep canyon wall, near the Cow Creek Split

Rick Clunn pre-fishing Rough Canyon

Rick Clunn pre-fishing Rough Canyon

Texas Takes It's Bass Fishing Very Seriously!

Texas Takes It's Bass Fishing Very Seriously!

The Tour Is Over Time To Take Care of Business

Day One Burr!

Day One Burr!

Ready To Rumble!

Ready To Rumble!

It's +#(&!^$ cold the wind is blowing 25 to 30, that sign was 12 miles away and nowhere near the water, the temperature is in the 20's!

It's +#(&!^$ cold the wind is blowing 25 to 30, that sign was 12 miles away and nowhere near the water, the temperature is in the 20's!

The following comments are a little lengthy so if you just want to look at pictures and short captions do not proceed but...

The following comments are a little lengthy so if you just want to look at pictures and short captions do not proceed but...

... be careful because you might miss some important 411. 

... be careful because you might miss some important 411. 

While pre-fish I discovered a few different successful techniques as well as learning that the bite was very tough and deep.  One of my pre-fish bites was on a drop shot, without feeling a bite I moved the bait and realized a bass had eaten the worm. Thinking about this soft 'pressure bite'  and looking at the weather conditions, I understood I could expect more of the same. After practice I prepared my confidence techniques and included a  drop shot set-up.

Prior to each days competition Co Anglers have the opportunity to talk with their draw for the next day. I always try to get a sense for what type of water and fishing style the Pro has in mind. Not always but I find most pros to be somewhat helpful when I ask the appropriate questions regarding what to expect while out on the water. All the clues pointed to a drop shot bite.

Bassmaster Pro from Japan, Kenta Kimura, it was great fishing with you!

Bassmaster Pro from Japan, Kenta Kimura, it was great fishing with you!

Day 1 started and initially I was matching the relative fast fishing pace Kenta was using. Targeting ledges in 25' to 30' he caught a good keeper quickly with a swim jig. The ledges had scatted brush and in places small clumps of boulders. After making several unsuccessful presentations with a deep swimbait I switched techniques and started presenting the drop shot.

With the wind blowing strong and heavy cloud cover  I was set up with a Ventana drop shot weight.  By creating a stronger 'Sphere of Influence' the rattling weight would help fish locate my worm in these cold cloudy rough conditions. Feeling only pressure, no bite, I set the hook on my first keeper. Soon after I put number two in the boat, the only indication from this fish was when I saw the line pop. Line watchers are rewarded!

Eye Surrender Drop Shot Wrap extends the 'life' of a soft plastic worm when rigged weed-less. No need to keep taking the barbed hook repeatedly in and out of the plastic to attach the hook to the rod's hook keeper. This also saves time for more casts! http://www.eyesurrendernow.com

Eye Surrender Drop Shot Wrap extends the 'life' of a soft plastic worm when rigged weed-less. No need to keep taking the barbed hook repeatedly in and out of the plastic to attach the hook to the rod's hook keeper. This also saves time for more casts! http://www.eyesurrendernow.com

After I caught fish number two my draw switched to the drop shot. Noting it as a complement, nevertheless I really dislike it when the pro switches to the same technique I'm using and having success with. But in this case I didn't mind for three reasons, 1) he slowed down from his faster pace, I like that when I drop shot a difficult bite 2) with the deep bite you could cast at targets 360 degrees around the boat  3) he didn't have any Ventanas. Every time we fished this type of water I caught keepers, bringing a limit to the scales, finishing in 15th place for the day.

Day 2 started with my pro draw Matthew Lee 'sight fishing with sonar' in 50 feet of water, which meant he was using his electronics to see fish positioned on the bottom and then dropping the bait vertically right on top of the fish. There were a few boats close by and I could see everyone was fishing a drop shot. Within a short period of time Matthew landed a keeper, a co-angler nearby landed a 3 pound fish and his pro, Matt's brother Jordan, landed 4 quick keepers. It didn't take long to realize that there was something to my set-up that wasn't quite right.

Jordan Lee sight fishing with sonar targeting the bottom of the bottom of a 50 foot water column. Jordan would finish 6th in this year's Bassmaster Classic.

Jordan Lee sight fishing with sonar targeting the bottom of the bottom of a 50 foot water column. Jordan would finish 6th in this year's Bassmaster Classic.

I changed to a Bulk Shot tungsten weight and added a little more length to my drop. I felt the round shaped heavy tungsten weight would thump the bottom nicely. Shortly after this adjustment I was bit and placed a very nice keeper in the live well.

As we visited different types of water throughout the day  I keep searching for a set-up that the fish would favor. The first fish gave me confidence and at the end of the day we returned to Mathew's 50 foot deepwater spot. On the last cast of the day I hooked up again with another solid keeper. That fish moved me up the leader board tied for 11th, placing me in the final top 12 cut!

Day 3 brought sunny blue skies and a calm breeze, Highway 90 and Railroad Bridge spanning Amistad

Day 3 brought sunny blue skies and a calm breeze, Highway 90 and Railroad Bridge spanning Amistad

Day three I drew Kurt Dove a local Amistad guide and Bassmaster Elite Series Pro. Kurt's main focus was a large submerged flat with deeper  water on all sides. This 'Mesa'  had vegetation growing on top of it and we were primarily searching for fish at the thirty foot mark. I started out with a drop shot set up similar to day one. Kurt caught a keeper and both the pro and co on a nearby boat were catching fish. 

Shortly afterwards I noticed a piece of green vegetation floating on the surface. It was about eighteen inches in length. This prompted me to completely redo my set-up. I tied a drop length a bit longer than the floating grass (two feet) and  used a lighter thinner profile Slim Shot weight.

Day 3 Weigh In

Day 3 Weigh In

I wanted to hold the drop shot worm up from the bottom near the top of the grass and the lighter slimmer weight would move thru the grass easier with no hang ups. Day one and two I fished two different shades of purple worms. During these post frontal conditions I changed to a lighter color smaller profile worm.

3 worms 3 weights each had their time and place.

3 worms 3 weights each had their time and place.

Everyone around me was, to a degree, fishing the same way. I noticed that throughout the tournament my draws and the anglers nearby were mostly shaking their drop shot so in order to separate myself I would cast out and hold the bait as still as possible. When the boat moved far enough and I was dragging behind the boat I would then reel up to make another cast. This day all my bites would occur during the middle of my retrieve. Meaning that the midpoint of the retrieve placed the worm at the distance from the bottom that appealed best to the bass.  

When thinking about the length of your drop understand that based on the position of your retrieve the height your bait is above the bottom varies drastically. The further out your cast is away from you the closer your lure will be to the bottom. Consider this when you want your bait to be a specific height in the water column. 

These decisions worked, after culling on the final day I had my largest limit for the tournament along with my heaviest catch of the trip, again climbing the leader board finishing in eighth place! To recap I had to watch for clues from both the fish and the anglers. Each day was different and it demanded a new adjustment if I were to succeed. Had I fished the drop shot technique the same way throughout the tournament my results would have been considerably different.

These decisions worked, after culling on the final day I had my largest limit for the tournament along with my heaviest catch of the trip, again climbing the leader board finishing in eighth place! To recap I had to watch for clues from both the fish and the anglers. Each day was different and it demanded a new adjustment if I were to succeed. Had I fished the drop shot technique the same way throughout the tournament my results would have been considerably different.

Amistad Sunset

Amistad Sunset

I travel for many reasons, new water, new experiences, new challenges, new exposure... I have always tried to search and adjust to different techniques but never before have I adjusted so much within the same technique! Hope you not only enjoyed the tour but also the recount of my lessons learned. See you next time!

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