BassWestUSA - March/April, 2011, Page 86


Photos by Bill Hutcheson




Story and Photos by Bill Hutcheson

U.S. Anglers Choice kicked off its 2011 Northern Circuit with the January 29-30th Lake Oroville Pro-Am hosted by the Lake Oro- ville Chamber of Commerce. 105 Pro’s and Amateur anglers alike attended what would be a cold and wet weekend lled with an abundance of spotted bass. Angling legend Dee Thomas, long a xture on the western bass shing scene made his presence felt as he topped the long list of anglers competing for the Lake Oroville title. Thomas who has 20-plus pro wins under his belt is well known as the father of Flippin’. This weekend would be much different thought as it was a nesse technique that won the event. “I pre- shed for a total of 6 days prior to the event”, Thomas stated. “I was on the water two weeks prior to the tournament for three days and the week prior to the tournament for another three days. On the rst week of pre- shing, I found a spot where I man- aged to catch 17-18 sh in two hours. I made a mental note that this would be the spot I would start at if I had a bad pre- sh. The problem was, the next week when I pre- shed, I was catching 11-12 pounds a day”. Thomas noted. “I had them pretty well dialed in and at the Friday evening partner draw, I told my partner to just bring two rods spooled with 8 lb test and that would be all that he would need”. On tournament day, Dee’s rst day draw, Joe Campos, did ex- actly as told and arrived with two rods lled with 8lb test in hand. Dee gave him some Ol’ Ugly tube baits in a uorescent green pat- tern, which mimicked the small rainbow trout that were being stocked in the lake. The duo never deviated from this bait all day. Thomas and Campos traded off catching sh all morning on the tube baits and had an 11 lb limit in the boat around 10:30 am. Dee decided to head back to that spot he had made a note of dur- ing his initial pre- sh outing and found it covered with boats. Dee and Joe shed around the area for about 3 hours without a bite. They nished out the day with 11.62 pounds, which put Dee in 6th place going into day two of competition. On Day two, Thomas had decided he would go back to the spot he found during the initial pre- sh. Much to his surprise and unlike the day prior, there was not a boat on the spot. Dee was shing with Steve Palenko who had shed with the current leader, Glen Lockhart the day prior. Steve felt con dent in his bait and despite Dee’s urging, stuck with it. “Steve threw that bait for about an hour and a half all while I was catching sh” Dee chuckled. “I guess he got tired of watching me catch’em because he eventually switched over to the tube bait I offered him and we proceeded to catch about 30 sh that day. Thomas did note that he hooked into and lost a sh that would have given him a signi cant lead over the eld. “I fought this sh for about 2 minutes and was bringing it up as gingerly as possible but he came unbuttoned” Thomas quipped. Thomas and Palenko both contributed to the limit and it was Palenko who managed to catch one of the last sh of the day that culled up about an ounce and a half to give Thomas a day two limit of 11.70 pounds for a total weight of 23.32 pounds. This secured the victory for Thomas along with $12,350 in winnings.


PLACE PRO ANGLER NAME 1 Dee Thomas 2 Glen Lockhart 3 Tony Rainey 4 Keith Friesen 5 Ron Moore 6 Rock Douglass 7 Cody Meyer 8 John McClellan 9 Nick Langlolis 10 Alvin Borba 11 Preston Henson 12 Phil Garcia 13 Mike Nichelini 14 Justin Evans 15 Greg Gutierrez 16 Wayne Breazeale 17 Joe Hinkle 18 Mike Haroutunian 19 Mike Gordon 20 Kevin Stewart

WEIGHT 23.32 23.24 22.34 22.19 22.12 22.09 21.97 21.93 21.78 21.58 21.54 21.48 21.33 21.12 21.10 21.07 20.92 20.71 20.56 20.55

WINNINGS AAA ANGLER NAME WEIGHT WINNINGS $12,350 Steve Palenko 24.80 $3,500 $8,555 Merle Nunes 23.31 $2,640 $4,510 Tom Voth 22.50 $1,500 $4,090 Andy Sanchez 22.14 $1,250 $2,840 Ryan Peterson 22.04 $1,385 $3,315 Joe Campos 21.76 $1,150 $1,500 Bryant Smith 21.69 $1,050 $1,200 Gaspar Busalacchi 21.69 $700 $1,000 Steve Flanders 21.42 $700 $900 James Rios 21.30 $600 $800 John Pearl 21.13 $500 $700 Tommy Gordon 21.06 $400 $700 Carl Crutch eld 21.03 $300 $600 Matt Hamilton 20.94 $300 $600 Pat Dugle 20.48 $300 $500 Howard Correll 20.46 $250 $500 Jesse Groves 20.43 $250 $500 Bruce Gibson 20.35 $250 $500 Matt Pudge 20.24 $250 $500 Jim Grebel 20.05 $0

Local Pro Glen Lockhart of Biggs, CA missed the top spot by a mere .08 pounds, nishing in the runner up spot and earning $8,555 for his work on Oroville. Glen had spent a total of three days pre- shing and had a somewhat tough time. “I spent my rst day of pre- shing the weekend prior to the event in the Northern end of the lake and had a really tough time,” Glen stated. “The second I focused on the mid fork to the southern area of the lake. I came across one spot – a rocky outcropping that went down into two creek channels. I caught about 10 pounds of sh in 5 casts and this was really all that I had going into the tournament”. On day one of the tournament, Lockhart and his partner Steve Palenko drew boat number 18 and made it to Lockhart’s spot be- fore anyone else. Trouble was, the stellar bite that Lockhart expe- rienced during pre- sh had gone away. “I was not getting them like I was during pre- shing, but I knew the sh were still in the area”, Glen noted. As such, he and Palenko concentrated their efforts in the general area and still managed to pick up some good sh, limiting out around 10am by shaking 5 inch Senkos in a Baby Bass color. Lockhart also anchored his rst day limit with a 3.26-pound sh that ate a white spinnerbait slow rolled in 40 feet of water. When the scales closed on the rst day, Lockhart and Palenko had rst place in their respective divisions nailed down as a result of their 13.10-pound limit. In a two day Pro-Am, the disadvantage of being one of the rst boats out on day one is that you are one of the last boats out on day two. When you are leading the pack, this can be a nerve- wracking proposition. “My partner and I headed back to where I was on the rst day and found there were other boats in the area” Glen said. “We shed the areas in an around my spot but only had 3 sh including a good one that my Am Joe Campos caught on a Mudpie colored Dry Creek Out tters tube bait. Since I sh Oroville a bunch for team events, I decided to hit some areas that my USAC teams partner Joe Hinkle and I shed in the past. We caught about 10 additional sh, but none were really able to boost our overall weight”. Lockhart nished day two with 10.14 pounds, nailing down the runner up position.


March/April 2011