Jim Graddy wins Bass Nation Event on New Melones with 35 pounds

Jim Graddy with a Nice New Melones Bass

Jim Graddy won the California B.A.S.S. Nation qualifier with the help of this 8.93-pounder.

The 74-year-old also caught the biggest bass, almost a 9-pounder

ANGELS CAMP, Calif. — Jim Graddy of Shafter, Calif., won the 2017 California B.A.S.S. Nation State Team Qualifier 1 on New Melones Reservoir, March 18-19, and no one was more surprised than he was. “I am shocked that I won,” said the 74-year-old real estate broker. “The first time I had ever been to New Melones was on Thursday.”  At his ripe age, Graddy said he’s not only proud to have won: “I’m proud to still be alive.”  Graddy jokes about his age, adding that after this many years of fishing, he should really be better than he is. But based on his 24.64-pound bag on Day 2, most of his fellow competitors would argue that he’s doing just fine. Graddy finished with 35.35 pounds, eclipsing second place by almost 2 pounds. But he won another honor as well — biggest bass overall. He caught an 8.93-pounder on Sunday, the biggest bass of the tournament by a nearly 2-pound margin. It was mid-morning when the big fish took his Senko and started swimming toward him. “I didn’t even know it was big at first,” Graddy said. His nonboater partner, Louie Marques, asked if he needed help with the net and Graddy declined, saying it didn’t feel like much. “But then I got a little pressure, and it got bigger,” said Graddy, laughing about his rapid change of mind. “I said to Louie, ‘Maybe I do need a little help.’”  The fish was near the dam in 2 to 3 feet of water.

 Graddy had used Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hogs in green pumpkin all day Saturday, when he brought in a limit of 10.71 pounds fishing laydowns. But on Sunday, he wasn’t having much success, and he took a cue from Marques to pick up a Senko instead. He settled on shad and green pumpkin colors and fished the rest of the day with Senkos, targeting shallow grass on the banks. Areas with heavier grass seemed more productive to Graddy than areas with less of it. He would start at a point, work into a cove, then work the other side as he made his way to the next one. “It’s fun to beat these young guys,” said Graddy. “It doesn’t happen often. They usually kick your butt.” Graddy is a member of the Valley Bass Club in Bakersfield. As the top boater at New Melones, he is the first angler to qualify for the 2018 California B.A.S.S. Nation State Team. 

Jared Harris of Oakdale is the only other angler to qualify for the State Team alongside Graddy. Harris won the nonboater side on New Melones. Harris, 23, spent his pre-fishing time determining what lures would work best across the lake. As the nonboater, he wouldn’t have the final say in where he could fish each day, but he could at least pick the best tackle that would work anywhere. He settled on a swimbait made by Johnny C’s California Reservoir Lures in casper color, in 3 or 5 inches for the first day, when he weighed in three fish for 7.18 pounds. On the second day, he used Senkos in brown with black and purple flake to bring in 6.97 pounds. “I found that rocky areas with nice grass growing nearby were the most productive spots,” said Harris, who works for Local 1245 Electrical IBEW. “I don’t regret one cast I made,” Harris added. “I felt like I was on my game.” Harris ended with 14.15 pounds, edging second place by ounces.

 On the boater side, Graddy was flanked by first-day leader Randy Pierson with 33.39 pounds and Michael Coleman in third place with 31.48 pounds. On the nonboater side, Jay Williams finished behind Harris with 14.01 pounds, followed by Louie Marques with 13.66 pounds.

 The next qualifier takes place June 3-4 on Lake Oroville in Oroville, Calif.

 Keep up with the California B.A.S.S. Nation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/californiabassnation and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/cal_bn.



The path to the Classic begins on New Melones

The path to the Classic begins on New Melones

 Darrell Ocamica of Idaho, Tim Klinger of Nevada and Ryan Lavigne of Louisiana all started by competing in B.A.S.S. Nation events in their respective state, and now they’re heading to the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic later this month. Anglers in California have the opportunity to climb the same ladder beginning March 18.

 California B.A.S.S. Nation competition begins this month

 SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The path to competing in the Bassmaster Classic begins in California on New Melones Reservoir, March 18-19.

 Any angler in California — boater or nonboater — has a chance at competing against the best bass anglers in the world at the 2019 Bassmaster Classic. The road to qualify begins at any of the four California B.A.S.S. Nation tournaments scheduled for 2017, moves on to the Western Regional next spring and culminates in the 2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, in which three of the nation’s best anglers earn a berth in the 2019 Classic.


“No angler from the California B.A.S.S. Nation has ever made it all the way to the Classic before,” said Mark “Chief” Torrez, president of the California B.A.S.S. Nation. “Our state has the best anglers in the country, and there’s no reason one of our members can’t end our streak this year and get one of our guys onto the biggest stage in bass fishing.”


The first tournament of the season is on New Melones Reservoir in Angels Camp, March 18-19. The top boater and top nonboater at New Melones automatically advance to the 2018 State Team, becoming the first to qualify. The rest of the 20-person State Team will qualify either by winning one of the other three tournaments this year (Oroville, Delta or Nacimiento) or by finishing in the top of the points bracket (best three out of four tournaments).

 The 2017 State Team, which qualified last year, will put their skills to the test beginning in April at Lake Shasta. The 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional presented by Magellan will be held in our home state, April 19-21. The Western Regional is held at a different Western lake every year.

 The best boater and best nonboater from California’s 2017 State Team will qualify for the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan this fall at a location to be determined. The Top 3 anglers at the championship advance to the 2018 Classic.

 In just a few weeks, you can watch three of last year’s top Nation anglers compete in the 2017 Classic, including two from the West. From March 24 to 26, on Lake Conroe in Houston, Texas, Darrell Ocamica of Idaho, Tim Klinger of Nevada and Ryan Lavigne of Louisiana will represent their states on the world stage.

 To be on track to make the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, competitors must either win a California B.A.S.S. Nation event or finish in the top of the points by the end of the season. Points are determined on a 100-point scale at each tournament, with the winner receiving 100 points, second-place receiving 99, etc. The top points winners, based on their three best tournaments, will qualify for the 2018 State Team.

 The full schedule is as follows:

 Date                                       Lake                                                       Location

March 18-19                         New Melones Reservoir                Angels Camp, CA

June 3-4                                Lake Oroville                                     Oroville, CA

July 8-9                                 California Delta                                Oakley, CA

Oct. 14-15                              Lake Nacimiento                              Paso Robles, CA


To register to compete at New Melones, download the entry form here: http://calbn.com/new-melones-reservoir and submit it by March 8. You must be a member of a California B.A.S.S. Nation club to be eligible to compete.

 If you have questions about tournaments or about joining a club, contact Mark Torrez at (805) 233-0883 or mark@calbn.com.

 Keep up with the California B.A.S.S. Nation at www.facebook.com/californiabassnation.

Lee a Darkhorse (Blackfish?) for AOY

Lee a Darkhorse (Blackfish?) for AOY  

With the 2016 Bassmaster Elite season in the books, it’s time to look ahead to 2017. The race for

Angler of the Year (AOY) will, as always, be hotly contested right out of the gate. Aaron Mertens,

Greg Hackney, and Gerald Swindle (the reigning champ) are the early favorites, while Edwin

Evers and Skeet Reese are near the top, as well.   

The living legend Kevin VanDam gets a nod, too, based on his past resume, one presumes, more

than his recent results.   

While those guys are all deserving of a spot near the top of the list for one reason or another, I

see a few anglers who could surprise in 2017. If you look back at the Angler of the Year

winners-list, you’ll see that repeat winners are more common than first-timers. But the sport is

more wide-open than ever these days and there is so much talent in every neck of the woods �

and a lot of that talent is young; I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if a first-timer takes home the

coveted title in 2017.   

One man I like, in particular, is Jordan Lee. The Cullman, Alabama, native finished sixth in the

AOY standings last year, thanks in large part to his runner-up finish at Cayuga Lake and

fourth-place at Mississippi River. He had another three top-15s and only finished outside of the

top-30 four times in 11 Bassmaster Elite tournaments.   

Long story short, the Auburn grad was one of the most consistent anglers, week in and week out.

If you’re going to win AOY, you have to be consistent, snagging points at every opportunity. 


A couple years ago (2014 season), a 23-year-old Lee was the youngest angler on the Elite tour.

Now 25 years old, Lee is still on the rise and it’s only a matter of time before he gets his first Elite


Bassmasters B.A.S.S. Nation schedule for 2015

Bassmaster Nation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Some familiar bass fishing waters and some never visited by B.A.S.S. tournaments will play host to competitors in the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation divisionals.

California’s Clear Lake and Mississippi’s Ross Barnett Reservoir are often top choices on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. But the Pee Dee River Basin in South Carolina and Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion will be hosting B.A.S.S. events for the first time.

Anglers who have qualified for the divisionals will have the great fortune to compete on these lakes, and the top competitor from each state will advance to the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

“It’s really exciting to get to go to new places for the B.A.S.S. Nation divisionals,” said Jon Stewart, director of the B.A.S.S. Nation. “It’s one of the many things that make the Nation unique.

“You never know what might happen on these new waters, and I’m ready to get 2015 started to see what the year will bring,” Stewart added.

The first divisional of the season is the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional, April 8-10, on California’s famed Clear Lake. B.A.S.S. has visited this lake — one of the oldest natural lakes in North America — 11 times, including a divisional here just two years ago.

The Western Divisional in 2013 also took place in early April, and Washington’s Jeremy Percifield won the three-day event with a hefty 67 pounds, 6 ounces. The biggest bass of the tournament, caught by Idaho’s Denton Crofts, was 10 pounds, 9 ounces — a weight competitors will definitely strive to find in April 2015.

The last time the Bassmaster Elite Series competed on Clear Lake, Byron Velvick almost hit the 100-pound mark over a four-day tournament, ending with 98 pounds, 6 ounces.

The second divisional of the season is 2,893 miles east of Clear Lake only two weeks later. The Southern Divisional will take place on the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin in Georgetown, S.C., April 22-24. The watershed is North Carolina’s second-largest. If anglers aren’t familiar with fishing in the basin, they’re certainly familiar with the surrounding water bodies, Lake Norman and High Rock Lake, sites of several Bassmaster Tournament Trail events, including three Bassmaster Classics on High Rock.

Next up is Ross Barnett Reservoir in Ridgeland, Miss., for the Central Divisional, June 10-12. Barnett hosted a Bassmaster Classic in 1978, which Bobby Murray won with 37 pounds, 9 ounces over three days for the October event. Just three months prior to the 2015 divisional, the pros from the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Opens presented by Allstate will compete on Ross Barnett, as well.

The following week, June 17-19, the B.A.S.S. Nation divisionals move 906 miles northeast to Fairmont, W.Va., for the Mid-Atlantic Divisional on the Monongahela River. The Mon has hosted a B.A.S.S. event once — kind of. The northern end of the river is part of the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., site of the 2005 Bassmaster Classic. It was a tough tournament, which Kevin VanDam won with only 12 pounds, 15 ounces over three days.

As summer closes, competitors in the Northern Divisional will convene in Minnesota on Lake Vermilion, one of the most scenic lakes in the United States. The 39,000-acre lake could produce mixed bags for the anglers when they visit the fishery Aug. 26-28.

The Connecticut River in Hartford, Conn., ends the season at the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Divisional, Sept. 18-20. The B.A.S.S. Nation previously held a divisional tournament on the river in 2007. In addition a Bassmaster Top 100 tournament was held there in 1994 during the same week of September. Veteran pro Roland Martin won that one with 49 pounds, 11 ounces over four days.

Each state sends a team of its top anglers to its respective divisional. The top angler from each state advances to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, which will be held in October or November at a site yet to be selected.