Mother Nature was kind to competitors at the Anglers Choice WRL Motherlode tournament held Dec. 1 on Lake McClure.
Forty-seven teams competed under overcast skies and in 60 degree temperatures. All brought out their foul weather gear thinking the worst but there was no rain in sight for at least five or six hours.
Blast-off was about 6:45 a.m. and by 7 a.m. all boats were skimming across the lake with just a small chop on the water. Early morning bite was pretty good but as the day progressed the temperature dropped a few degrees and the teams had to work harder to pull up on their catches.
The teams were broken down into four flights with 11 or 12 teams in a flight with first flight weighing in at 3 p.m. First boat to weigh in was Troy Doggett coming to the scales at 10:30 a.m. He had limited time to fish and only caught four fish weighing 3.95 pounds. Troy's son and partner couldn't fish, he had a championship football game to play for Escalon and pop was not going to miss that game.
Second team to the scales had to come in early due to a break down in the river channel and a staff boat manned by Tom Gomez (Merced) brought Mike Frank(Denair) in so he could get his fish weighed. Gomez then went back out and towed the boat with owner Eric Habit (Hughson) back to the ramp.
Big weight of the day for first place was brought in by the father and son team of Mike Goodman and Bill Goodman (both Merced) weighing 13.68 pounds anchored by a 4.86 bucket mouth caught by son Mike. This team won a beautiful big fish plaque, two 1st place plaques and a $2,175 paycheck.
Coming to the scales to take 2nd place with 11:01 pounds was brothers Chua and Zay Yang (both Ceres) although they didn't have a big fish it was a solid limit giving them a $1,060 payday and two nice 2nd place plaques.
The Fresno team of Ryan Reynolds and Bob Hamasaki brought 10.97 pounds to the scales backed up with 2nd big fish a 4.34 pounds, a largemouth caught by Bob. For their hard work this team won two nice 3rd place plaques and scooped up $865.
Not far behind in 4th place was the brother team of Charles Welch (Waterford) and Jim Welch (La Grange) bringing 10.70 pounds to the scales with a 3.26 pound kicker winning them $385.
Another close weight, which took 5th place, was 10.40 pounds caught by Scott Lops and Dan Cranston (both Visalia) and they too had a kicker weighing 3.44 pounds to bank them $410.
There were a number of teams from the south Valley including Timmy Wells (Clovis) and Travis Mathews (Chowchilla) taking 6th place by weighing in 10.19 pounds good for a $265 payday.
Rounding out the top 10: Greg Cox (La Grange) and Mike Jackson (Hughson) had 10.08 winning them $185 for 7th place; 8th place was Richard Taylor (Escalon) and Jimmy Faulk (Empire) with 9.89 pounds good for $170; last in the money was Eric Habit(Hughson) and Mike Frank (Denair) weighing in 9.84 giving them $165 cash for 9th place. That break down probably cost them a higher finish.
First out of the money was James Caywood and Frank Lewis both of Copperopolis with 9.55 pounds winning two bags of dartheads and jig heads from John Braziel plus some custom hand-poured worms from Kenny Shepherd.
Overall the best technique for catching the bass was jigs and drop shot from 10 to 30 feet deep. There were some fish caught on top water early in the morning and one of the teams said they caught all their fish 60 feet deep on shakey heads and spoons. Best parts of the lake to fish were mouth of Piney, the river channel, Temperance and Cotton Creek. Overall it was a good day of fishing with 44 five-fish limits and a total of 228 fish weighing 404.04 and all but two released alive.
The next tournament is set for Feb. 23 at Lake McClure. Contact Danny Peluso at 874-9525 for more information.