Prez Says Potholes Recap

I would say our Summer Family/Team/Couples event was a success overall! It was great camping weather, and the CBBC members getting together at Mike’s Place was a fun and relaxing time! As for the fishing, for some, it was a fishing feast, and for others, it was famine. July isn’t always the best time of year to fish Potholes, but for those who know the water well, it can be a jewel. I would like to thank everyone who helped out with the weigh-in, and tournament proceedings in general. It’s a lot of work putting a decent event together.
It was a pretty solid turnout, considering that it was a cumulative 2-day event with mainly camping accommodations. We had 15 teams and 30 competitors, and some new members joined the club. We paid out plenty of money and a lot of option checks were awarded. Rick Dopke and Dick Coffey won the Mystery Tackle Box, and Mel Williams and Mark Westcott won the Lucky Tackle Box.
The following is a breakdown from the top teams in each division, along with the final place payout.
1st Place – Team Division – Eric Martinez and Julio Garza:
This was our second time this year fishing Potholes and we had no time to pre-fish. We knew in the morning we were going to catch them on reaction and topwater lures and that is what ended up working for us. Some of the lures we used were a spinnerbait and a frog; most of the fish we caught were on the spinnerbait. Then when fishing started to slow down we went toward the back of Potholes and went for the biggins’. What we noticed was the fish were in very heavy cover so we decided to flip and pitch and caught our 4 and 5 pounders. We figured this worked the first day so we did the same the second. Well, you know what they say, ‘don’t fix what’s not broken.’ We wanted to say thank you to the Columbia Basin Bass Club for allowing us in the tournament. It was a fun weekend full of “Get the net! Get the net!” And, we met a lot of nice people and hope to fish with them soon again.
1st Place – Family Division – Drake Ofthun and Reed Ofthun:
Having not been to Potholes in almost 6 years my goal was to learn as much as possible during this tournament. My brother and I started off Saturday morning going after smallmouth on some rock piles, but it was difficult to fish due to the strong wind. We scratched that and headed back into the dunes to chase largemouth. Our first 2 fish came off a deep point where the water funneled through 2 dunes and our other fish came off a current seam. Sunday began with flipping willows and huts with little luck. We went back to fishing a seam where we caught 6 fish in the last hour. All our fish came on Senkos and creature baits.
1st Place – Couples Division – Ben Hanes and Jordan Warren:
Things change so frequently on Potholes that when we arrived on Thursday night, we were slightly unsure on how to approach pre-fishing despite having gone out a week prior. As expected, everything was different, and on Friday we only caught 4 fish total. It was very difficult for us, and we have never done well on Potholes in July. It seems to be an underwater hut and current game that is difficult to learn with out-migrating fish.
When Saturday rolled around, we started out fishing smallmouth and caught a small limit just to get our confidence up a little. We then went to a piece of structure that had some current and culled out all of our fish, and finally ended up on a steep dune with current that had either a hut or deep brush that held a couple quality largemouth that managed to give us an okay bag. We spent the rest of the day basically pre-fishing again. We got most of our fish on Senkos.
On Sunday we gambled and decided to start with largemouth, and it paid off well getting a limit on spinnerbaits and a Zara Spook. We then slowly upgraded fishing the “elbow” of steep willow-lined dunes with 6-inch Senkos on a 5/0 Superline Gamakatzu hook (Texas-rigged weightless), and ended the day in a wind storm on the rip rap dam, where we got a quality smallmouth on a swim bait.
2nd Place Overall – Team Division – Jeff Grimes and Levi Rodelo:
Saturday was a slow start for us, as the first 3 spots we went to we caught nothing. We caught our first couple fish around 7 a.m. From that point we bounced back and forth between 4 or 5 areas I have fished for 10 or more years. Each of these areas are what we like to say ” Either they are there…or they aren’t” spots. A couple of them I know I was sharing with Rick Dopke, since we fished together in ABA tournaments years ago and both know how good they can be. I am confident, though, that the fish that I caught and the fish he caught were on totally different baits or techniques. Levi and I caught our fish on Strike King Frogs and plastics such as the Rage Craw and Lizard (Texas-rigged) as well as Bass Kick’n Baits Thugs (Senko style bait). Saturday, we caught fish on underwater huts and deep willows with plastics and used the frogs on points with green pencil reeds or leafy weeds on them. The key to the points was deep water access nearby. We found that the fish were in 4-6 feet of water and sometimes the boat was in 9-11 feet or more. Another important factor was the Thug. If we had a blowup but the fish was not hooked, you can throw a weedless wacky-rigged Thug in there and catch the fish most of the time. The color of frog probably does not matter that much, but my preference had a green back, yellow side, and off-white belly. Out of the 30+ fish we caught, half were flipping or on huts and the other half were on frogs.
Sunday was totally different for us. We threw topwater all day long and I think I only caught one fish flipping all day and none were on huts. The cloud cover and front moving in turned the fish on for us and we caught 35-40 fish on topwater all day long. The difference from Saturday was the fish were on a different type of cover. It seemed they were on a different type of grass than before. Once we figured that out, we only fished areas that had the same stuff in it and it seemed to work. The topwater was working even after the wind got high and the sun came out. We lost a giant fish that we estimate was 7 pounds or so, and I broke another one off on 65- pound braid with the frog, and either one of those fish would have won the tournament, and probably big fish for us. The thing about that lake is that one day to the next may be completely different. Patterns change quickly and you have to figure them out each day you go. We had a good time and I believe that one of the keys to our success was the wireless speaker I bought recently that we connected to with our phone or iPad and listened to music all day long. Our best fish came while old country songs by Hank Williams, George Jones, Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash were blaring so loud, we couldn’t even hear each other call out for the net! (True Story).
My suggestion to everyone who hates that lake or does not understand how to fish there…….Spend time there. I have done a very high percentage of my fun fishing time on that lake and Moses Lake. I live 1/4 mile from the River and I know very little about it. Some of you know me and have heard me say that I prefer to largemouth fish and I will drive the hour plus to do so. Ever since my first club tournament in 2001 on Potholes, I wanted to learn it and I have spent a fair amount of time on it. I have a long way to go to be confident in it, but I have enough of an understanding to be comfortable fishing there now. Mike Matkowski, Rick Dopke, Bill Mace, and Todd Ofthun all know it probably a lot better than I do, but it is because of time on the water. All of those guys are willing to help out fellow club members with information (as am I) so don’t hesitate to ask. That is how I got started when I moved here 15 years ago. That is what the club should be about.
Congratulations to the Winners in all divisions and thanks to all of the officers and board members who take their time to do the weigh-ins and math and organizing of the tournaments. Thanks to John Flores for the great pictures he captures as well.
I would like to thank my Sponsors too. The top of the list is Griggs Department Store in Pasco. What a great family-operated business. All of the people there are top-notch, personable, and just all around good people. They have done a lot for me and my fishing partner, Les Whitley Jr., over the years. Please try to remember to go there next time you need something. If there is something they don’t have and you are looking for it, don’t hesitate to say something and they would order it for you. I would also like to thank Strike King Lures. I know you have heard of them. They are also a great company to be affiliated with as they are the leading and largest bait company in the U.S. They know how to take care of their Pro Staff members. Every one of the fish I caught this tournament were on Strike King products and I think my partner only caught one or two on other brands both days. Lastly, Okuma Fishing. Good quality rods and reels. Lightweight and comfortable to fish with all day long without getting sore. Without those great Sponsors, I may not be able to fish as many tournaments as I do each year, and definitely would not have the quality of equipment and tackle as I carry with me now.
If you have any other questions or comments, don’t hesitate to e-mail me ( ) or Facebook messenger.
Good Luck and Bass Wishes,
Jeff Grimes
Thank you again to everyone who came out and fished and helped to make the event a successful one. Our next stop is at Boardman in August. This will be our final qualifying event before the Club Championship, and there is a lot at stake. Mel Williams currently sits at the top of the Angler of the Year leaderboard, but Ben Hanes, Mark Westcott, Rick Dopke, Mike Matkowski, Fred Settle, Matt Floyd, and John Flores are all in the hunt. It will be very close once it’s all said and done. How cool! Please remember that we have a club meeting on July 26th at Kennewick Ranch and Home at 6:00 p.m. Jake “The Snake” Anderson will be our guest speaker.

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