Calif. –84 pros and their amateur partners con- verged on Lake Oroville for the season opening Anglers Choice Pro-Am opener. While en- joying a great meal from Waazuu BBQ sponsored by BassTacklede- pot.com we were hearing about a weeklong warming trend and rising water levels that brought an air of excitement to the competi- tors’ conversations. Word amongst the field was that the incoming water had brought color to the normally clear impoundment, and sunny, warm skies would bring Oroville’s spotted bass into aggres- sive feeding modes. As often happens in tourna- ment fishing, a storm began to build and temperatures ahead of the cold front began to drop, caus- ing anglers to discuss adjustments they might have to make to their strategies, and the predicted win- ning weights. With the pre-tour- nament warming trends in mind, anglers had begun talk of possi- bilities of heavy bags of Oroville spotted bass, some claiming that it would take 15 pounds a day to take home the trophy. However, as the 8 year old Lesley Bubier sang the National Anthem and Anglers Choice tournament officials began Saturday’s launch, the weather had begun to turn for the worse, and the normally cooperative nature of Oroville’s spot- ted bass population began to transform with it. The predicted high weights never materialized as much of the field found the average size of their creels lighter than the size they had thought possible. However difficult the bite became, the truth in tournament an- gling is that when you gather a field of top quality anglers somebody will have figured them out, and that is precisely what happened. Pro Brian Ruthman of Oakdale, Calif. rode an aggressive jerk- bait pattern to earn his first Pro Am victory. His approach produced consistent limits on both days that proved to overcome the up and down performances of his competitors. His 11.22-pound day one was followed up by an 11.53-pound limit on day two, giving him his 22.75-pound total. His steady excellence produced a $9500 1st place payday. “I spent both days running points from the main lake to the West Branch and North Fork with Lucky Craft Gary Dobyns Stay- see 90 version 3 jerkbaits,” Ruthman reported. “I threw them on a Dobyns Rod 705 jerkbait rod and kept them in 5 to 10 feet of water. I had a little easier time of it on Saturday, as I caught 20 to 25 fish, but only caught 11 or 12 today.” The victory was Ruthman’s first on a Pro Am level, in only his second pro entry. “I’m totally blown away right now, I can’t believe that I won this,” Ruthman said in an excited tone. “I entered my first tournament as an amateur in 2004, and am really excited to have won on this level now.” Ruthman’s effort helped him overcome a late charge by Rich- ard Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif. Dobyns, the son of longtime western pro Gary Dobyns, proved that his skills are on par with the best in the west, as he finished the event in 2nd place. Dobyns used sev- eral different methods to produce his 22.22-pound total, which in- cluded a 10.28 opening round weight followed by his strong, 11.94 pound weight on day two. “I junk fished mostly, I caught them on a pair of Lucky Craft jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and darter head Roboworms on Dobyns Rods,” said the young pro. “I am pleased with my performance and
US Angler’s Choice paid out over $51,000 in cash to 32 lucky participants.
happy for Brian [Ruthman] but I really made some bad decisions yesterday that cost me the win. “I thought the weights were going to be higher, so I ended up leaving two pound fish in search of big- ger bites; I should have weighed more than 11 pounds yesterday, but was able to adjust today and make a run at it.” His 2nd place finish was worth $5500. Amateur winner Bill Peunggate of Benicia, Calif. credited his pros and adapting to their techniques for his first tournament win. “I fished with two real pros, Phil Strader [of Glide, Ore.] and Jim Davis [of Plumas Lake, Calif.] they put me in position to win,” said Peung- gate. “I threw a darter head a little bit on day one, but the main pat- tern was throwing a Lucky Craft Flat CB in Table Rock Shad. This is my first win, and my stomach is turning quite a bit right now; I can’t believe this is happening.” Peunggate earned $4800 for his win. US Angler’s Choice paid out over $51,000.00 in cash to 32 lucky participants. All in all the fishing was good and seeing everyone was great. We had a chance to meet new friends and had an awesome time catching up with our old ones. Tom and I would like to thank all who came out and spent the last 2 days competing in our season opener. See you all at our next event on the Delta on May 2nd and 3rd and at the season ending event at Clear Lake on June 6th and 7th.