Date: May 11, 2019
Time: Safe Light, 5:45 am;
Location: Lake Berryessa, BBT Northern Bass Tournament;
Air temperature: 50 in am and 85 in afternoon;
Water Temps: 70-77;
Seasonal fish pattern: all three pre spawn, beds, and post spawn;
Wind: 0-8, Water Clarity: 2-20 feet.
I left for Lake Berryessa on Friday May 10, 2019, two days after my 69th birthday, with much anticipation and excitement, in order to fish the BBT Northern Bass Tournament, with my partner the legendary RB Bass Angler Bob Tyler. I arrived as our campsite and set up camp and waited for Bob to show up and go over a game plan. We decided not to pre-fish the lake that day, but settle in and work out a plan.
We had Plan B and C ready, but needed to settle on Plan A. Safe light found us in the water excited, because a marine layer came in overnight and the wind picked up a little. Now we know we are going to get bit, awesome conditions. We are boat #8 and after the draw, at blast off we found ourselves in the last flight. That’s ok with us, as we felt that our #1 spot in Plan A, being all the trees up South of the Vineyards and in the Vineyards, needed to be hot and sunny, so the fish go to the trees for the shade.
Due to the marine layer, we pulled up short and decided to fish main lake points, until the sun was out. Within 30 minutes of blast off, we found ourselves with 5 in the boat and culling. They were small but it was a start. Bob Tyler and I fish well together, as he fished top water with a spook and I went to the mid water column, using a rip bait and/or a spinnerbait. All three were productive. Bob got blowup after blowup on the spook, and boated several fish. I can’t tell you how many times, the fish missed that 6 hook Spook, but they did. Frustrated the heck out Bob. I hooked up several fish on a KVD Chartreuse Gold Willow Leaf Spinnerbait. I also used a KVD Rip Bait and picked up more fish, not to mention two treble hooks into my little finger, and now bleeding everywhere. Dang fish flipped just as I reached for it, and he stuck me. With my injury sort of fixed, pliers to rip the treble hook out and duct tape to seal it off, we pushed on.
We decided to move on up North a bit and do the same on main lake points, with continued culling of fish. Finally the sun decided to join us and that was our key to run to the Trees, and start flipping. I found these fish a few weeks earlier and some on beds. The thicker the trees and the darker the holes were, that’s where we wanted to be. We went through some brush and trees that were so thick, that even with the trolling motor on high, it couldn’t break through. Much to Bob’s surprise, the cure was to trim up the main motor and power through a very short distance and shut her down. Now we are on Big Fish water, to where you had to be mindful of setting your hook and not breaking a rod in the trees doing so.
We were rewarded for our efforts with several good fish, but we needed bigger ones. All we need is 5 good bites and we are golden. We picked up several flip fish back in the middle of the trees. Though Bob and I trade off on taking the helm, Bob was there when I flipped a Reaction Innovation Bear Pig back into the deep dark hole, at the base of a huge bloomed out tree and I got hammered. Thank God I had 65 lb Suffix 832 Braid on, because it was a giant. After a hug fight, I got her to the top and hung her up in a tree branch, that was low over the water, while Bob maneuvered the boat backwards in a tight spot, to net the fish. She was awesome at 6.03 lbs and already spawned out. One week ago she was probably an 8.5 lber. Game on, we know they are in here, and we go back to work now we only need three good bites. Bob sees a another hug one in about 5 feet of water, but she cruises away. He flips a Brush hog in anyways and gets smacked with a 3.5 pound buck. Now excitement flows over the boat. High fives all around and back to work. We need only two good bites now. The trees produced many fish, and I lost a few that were about 6-7 lbs, operator error, in bad hook sets I guess, being hard to swing in those trees. Those were the two bites we needed. We decided to move up to the next set of trees, in the Vineyard and duplicate what we did here.
The second set of trees produced fish but nothing big. Getting back into the trees was the key for us. Bob called it 4 wheel drive hunting with a boat. As the day waned, we really need a kicker or at least another 6 lber, but we couldn’t seem to get it. We made another run to where we started and picked up more fish, but they were small. With 30 minutes left we ran back, knowing most of the time will be taken up by the run, but we stopped just outside check-in, at our last ditch effort and fished a windy muddy point, and the mudline, with the Spook and a spinnerbait, but no success! Buttoned down and pulled up to the check in boat with a few minutes to spare.
As it turned out, we came in 7th place out of a 100 boats, missing the Win by 1.48 lbs. All in all, it was an awesome Fun fishing day, with lots of laughs. Now to clean up the boat, poor thing!
RB Anglers Mike Rogers and Bob Tyler