Erik Landesfeind - SWBA Tournament Trail
Shelf Bass Special
May. 16 2012, 5:31 PM
May. 16 2012, 5:31 PM
On Saturday May 12th, South Shores Launch Ramp in Long Beach was the site of the SWBA’s first open water event of the 2012 season. The “Shelf Bass Special”, sponsored by Sanderson Farms Chicken, was an eight hour event during which teams would try to catch their biggest five fish limit of any species of bass. Teams weighing at least one of all three bass species (Sand Bass, Calico Bass and Spotted Bay Bass) would receive an extra five points in the all important season standings. Boundaries for this event were Point Vincente to the north and the Corona Del Mar Jetty to the south.
photo credit Jimmy Sahagun
During the weeks leading up to the event, teams found good fishing for Calicos along the Palos Verdes coastline and excellent fishing for Sand Bass on the rocks and reefs to the south. With the northern boundary putting half of Palos Verdes off limits, many teams that would normally target Calicos pre-fished for Sand Bass as a fall back plan in case PV was too crowded on tournament day. Reports from final days of pre-fishing before the week long off-limits period, were that the Sand Bass fishing was tougher than it had been in previous weeks and that some dirty water had moved in off PV. Well, just like in every event, all the anglers could do was sit back and wait to see what happened on tournament day.
The mood on tournament morning seemed more relaxed than during the previous two events and with early light and balmy conditions, you could definitely feel that summer was on its way. At 6:00 a.m. the start was sounded and teams blasted off across mill pond conditions. While much of the field still headed north, an unusually large amount of teams made the left turn and headed south.
PV bit best early for many teams, but it bit really early for Team Fishtrax (Scott Pohle & Larry Posod) as Scott connected with their big fish of the day, a 6.98 lb Calico, on his first cast with a Big Hammer Sledgehammer that was custom colored by his son Noah. A few casts later, his partner Larry connects with a 5 lb fish on a Reebs Bolt Thrower Spinnerbait and just like that, Team Fishtrax is sitting on a twelve pound two fish bag and is well on their way towards making a podium finish.
Teams that started to the south didn’t fair nearly as well in the early morning hours. Ultra clean water over the entire area made for extremely difficult Sand Bass fishing. Some teams bailed on the area early and managed to salvage their day off other spots, but others stuck it out in the clean water and struggled all day long. The middle zone, from the Horseshoe Kelp through Izor’s Reefs ended up being the place to be on tournament day as the top three teams spent caught most of their fish out of this area.
The nice weather remained for most of the day, but by noon the west wind was up and by 1:00 p.m. it was all but impossible to fish the deeper structure. As a result, many of the teams that fished south weighed in early. PV was a little more protected from the wind and allowed teams to fish out their entire day.
Despite the tough fishing that most teams experienced, everyone was a little surprised by how small the top bags were. With 20+ lb bags being the norm in pre-fishing, everyone thought that someone somewhere must have gotten bit even though they struggled themselves. Well, the results proved that it was a tough day for everyone.
In third place was Team Snook Hunter (Matt Kotch and Erik Landesfeind) with a 20.32 lb bag.
In second place was Team Basstards (Al Migueliz and Rex McConnel) with a 20.64 lb bag.
In first place was Team Dirty (Bob Lindgren and Gerry Mahieu) with a 20.79 lb bag.
Thanks to Sanderson Farms Chicken doubling the payouts in this event, the “Shelf Bass Special” was the highest paying event in the history of the SWBA. I would like to extend a big thank you to Sanderson Farms for their support.
I got a chance to sit down with Gerry Maheiu of Team Dirty and talk to him about their win in the event. “Bob (Lindgren) and I were really surprised that we won the event but are extremely happy with the win. We expected there to be some really big bags caught during the event and we didn’t think that ours was anywhere near big enough to have a shot. Anyway, it’s been quite a while coming and I’m really glad that we were able to finally pull it together on tournament day.”
When asked about what they did that allowed them to out-fish the rest of the field, Mahieu explained. “Our game plan was to go and fish Sand Bass. Bob is a great deep water fisherman and he put a plan together. When we got out there in the morning, we noticed a couple things. First, there was a lot of boat traffic and second the water was really clear. We knew that those would combine for tough fishing.”
“At that point, we knew that we’d need to hit a bunch of spots for one or two drops and just keep moving all day to catch fish.” And move they did, Team Dirty hit spots from the Horseshoe Kelp down to Newport Beach to put together a winning bag. “We just kept moving and dropping and moving and dropping and once in a while we’d catch a fish. We had over 20 fish and almost all of them came on the 7” and 9” versions of the new the MC Swimbaits Viejos Series in brown bait colors.”
With many new teams joining the series each season, I asked the seasoned veteran and former angler of the year the secret to his success. “I’ve learned over the years that I catch more fish when I am relaxed and enjoying myself. So, on tournament day, I just treat it like any other day of fishing.” This may sound overly simplistic, but Mahieu swears that it works. “I’ve watched myself and others do the same thing time and time again. They’ll have great pre-fishing and set really high expectations for tournament day. But tournament day comes and the fishing is tough or different and this stresses them out. So instead of going with the flow and adjusting to the changing conditions like they would on a non-tournament day, they try to force feed the fish what they had been biting and then don’t get bit, which leads to more stress.”
I’m going to give Gerry’s relaxation techniques a try during the next event, which will be the “Paralabrax Punsiher” on June 2nd at Dana Point. Join me again afterwards to see who won and to find out just how relaxed I’m actually feeling…
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