Potholes in 2017 brought very different conditions as compared to 2016, even though the CBBC tournament date was almost exactly the same. Anglers who relied on locations from last year were probably surprised to find the water 2 feet lower this year as compared to last. Those who adjusted quickly did the best. Below is a breakdown of the top 3:
Jake Anderson – 1st Place
My pre-fish happened in 2015. I went there in August and marked channels, current, huts and anything else that looked good above the water’s surface. I went back in mid-July in 2016 and fished the spots I had marked the year prior, that were now submerged in higher water. I learned a lot, caught some big ones and acquired a good number of productive spots.
Because of the work put in, my pre-fish was simple. Go around and check my favorite spots and see which stuff was still under water. Those spots would likely fish best and be less pressured. I’d throw a few hookless baits onto these spots to see if anyone was home and to see which colors were working. I noted algae blooms and water clarity. Some areas were clear while others a dark green, so I would tie up both light and dark baits appropriate for differing water qualities come tournament time.
I pulled up on my first fully submerged hut and got 2 small bites losing one and catching one. My next hut was visible above the water and occupied by another angler so I went to my 3rd hut, which is my favorite hut for the water level we saw. It’s quite a ways into the dunes, submerged, and it is very well hidden. I felt like I could gamble and fish it as my 3rd stop. My first cast resulted in a 3.5-4lber hooked and lost. My 2nd cast to the hut resulted in a big fish hooked that shot out of the water. It would go 5.18lbs. I’d fish a few other quality huts and round out a limit by about 8:30. After that, the bite slowed. I got a critical 4lber at about 10 a.m. off a small hut way back near the trees, which felt like a bit of a fluke. As the sun came up I started fishing frogs on Mats and in shade. I got one over 3lbs but could never get rid of a fish that was about 2.5lbs. I lost 3-4 good fish, broke off another on a hookset, and missed several good frog blowups. I was a bit of mess really, and the boat ride back to the ramp was a frustrating one as I wondered what those mistakes meant. My weight ended up being about a pound bigger than what I thought I had, and I was very surprised to land on top.
I probably only landed 10 fish all day with about 18 bites. The keys to my day:
- • Practicing in 2015/2016 in low water instead of pre-fishing in 2017 during higher water.
- • Keeping my boat well off my targets and roll casting to them.
- • Using big fish baits such as jigs, frogs and buzzbaits.
- • Fishing best spots thoroughly and repeatedly, but also fishing as many spots as possible.
It was a great day and a great turn-out, with another well ran Derby by Jordan, Ben and the rest at Columbia Basin Bass Club.
Mel Williams & Mark Westcott – 2nd Place
In practice last weekend, we found bass using the transition areas between dunes where it narrows, and in those areas there would usually be bluegill around. Some of the best areas had a bit of current going through that transition point. By tournament day, the water had dropped enough to eliminate a number of these areas.
Everyone knows you want to look for huts on Potholes and they were still a factor but it took more elements than just a hut to make an area stand out. Our best fishing occurred adjacent to huts with deep water close by and points lined with flooded willows.
So much of Potholes looks great when you are searching, but it all seems to be relative on this body of water. Not all great looking places here produce, whereas they might on another body of water. It seems the best areas have multiple elements that make them good. In our case, we found points and pockets adjacent to huts, lined with flooded willows, and deeper water close by, that also was a path for current between the dunes produced the best. We caught most of our fish on topwater. We followed misses up with a Senko and picked up a couple of those. We never caught any fish super shallow. Most were caught in about 3 feet with deeper water nearby.
God blessed us with a great day filled with topwater explosions! This was not a grind for us. It was a blast!
Eric Martinez & Julio Garza – 3rd Place
We had not fished Potholes in over two weeks and when we showed up the morning of the water had dropped a crazy amount, so we knew were going to have to fish a little different. So, what we ended up doing was fishing not too far out most by the Winchester area. In the morning, topwater worked pretty well, then as the day went on we slowed and started jigging and caught a few that way. We stayed jigging the rest of the day and culled the small ones out.