Diamond Valley Lake, the “Jewel” of Southern California. I’ve fished all over the country but never had the opportunity to head out west and get down on some of the world record breaking reservoirs that litter the golden state. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity thanks to Biovex Lures who was holding a meeting in Long Beach and invited me to come out and spend some time in the beautiful state. As far as the meeting went I do have some very exciting news but lets start with the fishing.
I have to admit I was a bit anxious the weeks leading up to the trip, for many reasons really but two main reasons were the long drive and before I could even fish Cali waters I had to get my boat passed through inspections and from everything I had been hearing, this was no walk in the park. You can imagine my anxiety level accepting the fact that I may be driving all across the country, over 2,000 miles one way and be told I wasn’t fishing. Luckily, this trip was a blast from the very beginning and everything just went right. I passed inspections with flying colors. Basically, the state of California is trying to keep the infestation of the Quagga Mussel out of their precious waters and zero tolerance is zero tolerance. To be honest, they need to be strict with infested waterways such as Lake Havasu and the rest of the Colorado River so near by.
The drive was truly grueling, really much harder and much longer than I ever expected. The trip was so long that I had the new Dr. Dre and Eminem song, “I Need a Doctor” memorized within the first three states of the thirteen total that we traveled through. Try pulling a heavy Ranger Bass Boat through the Vail/Frisco Pass in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and you’ll have a new appreciation for trailer brakes! Though with all that said, I do it again tomorrow! I got problems, I know.
Helping assist me in passing inspections as well as getting on fish was the local tackle shop Last Chance Bait & Tackle. Don’t be fooled, this is your traditional Mom and Pop type shop but on steroids. I’ve visited tackle shops all over the country and this is easily in my top three, with a fighting chance at being my personal favorite. The husband and wife duo that own and operate the shop, Dan and Megan Merchant, stop at nothing to be sure they are carrying the very best products that the industry has to offer. A guy like me can get lost for hours in the isles looking at all the high end baits but also the very hard to get baits as well, including JDM products. Besides tackle, their staff is also full of local knowledge. This is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted either. Again, I fished everywhere but there isn’t anywhere that fishes like Southern California. Matt Magnone, one of their very experienced employees and a local DVL stick, offered up tremendous knowledge and better yet, I left there a far more experienced angler and know for fact that I’ll take some of those techniques he taught me and cash paychecks all over the Eastern United States. Thanks Matt, your the man!
The fishing started out slow for me to be honest. I had done lots of research on the lake the months leading up to this trip and felt pretty confident in my plan of attack. I felt that the spawn would be just around the corner and that I just needed to probe some near by deep structure and I’d find loads of giant females staging to move up. I studied maps and previous reports and felt I had identified some key pieces of structure that would hold up, though inexperience on these Cali waters proved to much as I’m used to fluctuating water levels but not like this. The trees that I had seen on Google Earth were literally under water. The water that I was hoping to probe in 40ish feet was now in 70?? I still gave it my best and after burning up my entire first day I finally caught what I thought to be a giant ledge donkey and instead ended up being a nice striper. Let me tell you about a rush! You throw a football jig on 50 foot structure, feel that “tap” in your line and hook into what feels like a moving tractor, then tell me the thoughts that run through your head while fishing lakes that pump out potential world records like their hot cakes at a Sunday morning breakfast hot spot. To finally win the battle and see it’s a striper on a football jig?? Cool, but not really..
Finally later in the day, I ventured shallow and started seeing some nice largemouth up on the bank. I worked one and caught my first largemouth of the trip that went roughly 3 1/2 pounds. I never thought of myself as a good bed fisherman but after this trip I’m pretty damn good. Maybe it’s because I can be pretty annoying when I want to be so why wouldn’t that work with my fishing? Let me assure you it did!
The next day I started my morning by heading back out to some deeper stuff and trying that again, a bit stubborn but in my defense I never did see any big females up shallow and was convinced that they were holding up somewhere. After again burning up several hours in the morning I started working shallow and right away was awarded with a quality smallmouth on a wacky rigged senko. I catch four pound smallmouth all the time back in Minnesota, but catching them here with a mountain filled back drop is a bit more rewarding.
After now catching two quality bass off the bank I started working my way around the banks and it didn’t take long to start seeing the bucks up preparing the nests. The rest of the day I spent sharpening my sight fishing skills with success! I basically went between three different lures to do the job. First I would try the new Matt Lures U2 Flat Tail Ultimate Gill (White), this is a bad ass bait and worked real well. I didn’t catch too many on it but it was very effective at annoying the fish so that I could easily catch them on one of my other two baits being a all white 1/2 oz. jig modified to be more effective on bed fish and a drop shot with a Roboworm (Morning Dawn) with a Trokar dropshot hook. There’s really no better hook than these Trokar hooks, they’re simply the best.
Throughout the days the fishing just got better and better. I was mostly catching males though and from time to time I would see giant females sitting in the flooded trees but after hours upon hours of trying to figure a way to yank on one of these toads, I ended up with a attitude of that’s just plain a tough fish to catch. See this lake is known as a light line lake, seriously light line. I never got bit on anything more than ten pound fluorocarbon and that’s even considered heavy line to the locals. The lake is gin clear and these fish aren’t like any I’ve ever fished for, they really make you be on your game. I can foresee this year being very challenging on the fisherman because with the water up so high there is so much cover for these fish to hide in. Even worse, there’s so much cover for these fish to break you off in. There’s a common phrase I hear amongst the locals. Ask them what their big bass is and they’ll spit out a ridiculous number like 11.6 pounds but they’ll all follow it with “I’ve broke off a dozen or so better”. That’s just the beauty of the beast. The Jewel gives it and the Jewel will take it away.
The last day on the water I had the privilege of being joined by Katsushi, the owner of Biovex and Hiro, the owner of Zusho Venture Partners. The reason for my trip to California was to join in on meetings as Biovex who makes awesome Japanese bass baits, will be soon distributing to the United States. This is extremely good news, I’ve been fortunate to be using these high end baits for a few years now and have been very heavily involved in this new expansion. A lot goes into this kind of move and I’ve been assisting in developing a line of baits that will cash many paychecks for tournament anglers all across the US. I’m very lucky to be sporting the Biovex logo in 2012 when fishing the Bassmaster Opens and FLW Everstart Series in my push to qualify for the tour level.
Katsushi brought out some new baits that have been developed and we got to put them to good use. It’s really a good feeling when the company that I represent makes a bait that out performs other baits that I had been using all week!! One such bait was the Biovex Kolt Fish Tail, a four inch morsel of love with a awesome hyper tail. Tip this bait on a drop shot and it comes to life. Another winning bait was the Biovex Kolt Stick and Kolt Shad Tail, these simply catch fish and there’s really no other soft plastic on the market that resembles the detail and action that these particular baits provide.
Katsushi and Hiro went on to catch numerous largemouth their first time bed fishing and we all had a blast doing it. Unfortunately for me I broke off on two giants that day, just as I was explaining before, light line, nasty trees and giant bass don’t mix. I easily broke off the two biggest fish that bit all week. Both were females that finally moved up and both found a way to break me off. Still cool though, in the clear water I got to see everything and so did the camera that was running. Stay tuned for the video of numerous bed fish and the tactics used to catch them! It was truly exciting!
In the end, I was slightly ticked that I was never able to crack that deep bite but with only a few days on the lake I didn’t really have the time I wanted to be able to break it all down and sometimes the most obvious pattern is the one that will produce in a crunch. I still had a boat load of success and am pretty confident if a bed fishing tourney broke off there that I’d be right up in the mix. There wasn’t too many that I couldn’t get to bite after a little bit of work.
I also had a chance to hit the annual Fred Hall Fishing and Outdoor Show. I had a good time and got the opportunity to see some pretty sweet baits as well as rub shoulders with some of California’s best fisherman. One such was Troy Lindner, son of famed Minnesota fisherman Al Lindner. Troy has clearly stepped out from his fathers shadows by making a name for himself on the west coast. Look at tournament results in Southern California and if his name isn’t on the very top, it’s surely a spot or two after. I especially like his Fit 4 Fishing, I take pride in staying in shape and truly believe it’ll give me an advantage over my competition and Troy’s expertise in this field is second to none. Check out his website at www.fit4fishing.com for more information.
Now back in Minnesota, Bri and I can say we had one of the best trips of our lives. Besides fishing and the business end of fishing we also had the chance to visit some nice restaurants as well as some sweet vineyards, you know, things to make my beautiful bride happy of course! To be honest, everything went perfect and I’m very excited to know that I get to go back yearly!
On another far more important note, I want to send my condolences to the people of Japan for the catastrophic series of natural events that occurred there. It hit close to home for me when my friends from Japan had to sit and watch the devastation thousands of miles from home. We need to do something to help the country of Japan and it’s people. Here is a link to a donation site if anyone can and wants to help out. Follow Link Here.