With a game plan in mind and a must win determination, Ron Welch finessed his way to the top of the field at Clear Lake to make the California B.A.S.S. Nation State Team, qualifying to attend the BASS Nation 2014 Western Division Tournament to be held at Noxon Reservoir, Trout Creek, ID.
The CA BASS Nation qualifying event is a draw tournament and this author happened to draw Ron Welch for the one day event at Clear Lake, and lucky enough to be witness to the winning day on the water. The first thing apparent was that Ron had a determination to do more than just place well in the tournament. Ron Welch is the current (2013) CA BASS Nation State Champion and would be attending the BASS Nation National Championship event in Arkansas, for a chance to qualify for the Bassmasters Classic as a BASS Nation competitor, during the final qualifying event for the 2014 State Team, so anything less than a 1st or 2nd place finish would not get Ron a position on the 2014 Team.
In the CA BASS Nation format the top two finishers at each of four qualifying events earn spots on the team as a boater and non-boater, respectively, filling in eight of the twelve State Team positions. If Ron finished in 2nd Place he would make the team but have to attend as a non-boater, instead of his preferred position as a boater, and the ability to take his own Legend boat to the event. The final four state team spots are filled by point standings from the remaining participants at the qualifying events.
Ron reported to me that morning that he had a very successful pre-fish, during which he even hooked what appeared to be the largest bass of his career, estimated over 14 lbs., on a crank bait before the largemouth heartbreakingly threw the lure. You can belive we revisited that spot during the day, but the big girl did not show up.
This event shaped up to be another tough one, with a weather system playing havoc with fish activity and bites hard to come by. While Ron did have success in the days before the tournament with power lures, he chose to fish most of tournament day with a finesse presentation using a wacky watermelon finesse worm on rock points with steep drop-offs. “I wanted to see baitfish in the area,” says the Gilroy Bassmasters club member, “There was a cold front and rain coming in that I thought would negatively affect the swimbait or reaction bite. I was wrong because the big fish of the tourney was caught on a swimbait. Also my co-angler caught a nice fish on a buzzbait early in the morning.”
But big baits are not what Ron needed as he brought in a limit of largemouth weighing 21.65 lbs. using light Trilene line on a Daiwa reel and Shimano Crucial rod.
Often attitude will get the job done and Ron came in with the right attitude, “Always stay positive when you fish and fish your strengths. Clearlake is an awesome fishery.”
Coming in 2nd Place and earning a non-boater spot on the 2014 State Team is Mike Coleman with a limit at 20.56 lbs. Mike used a drop-shot and crank bait over rock adjacent to deep water, and docks where the water color was stained. “Fishing slow and patience paid off,” says Coleman, who is a club member of the Oro Madre Bass Anglers BASS club. Mike used a 4.5-inch Morning Dawn Roboworm, Gamakatsu hook and Bass Pro Shops XPS drop shot weight on 6lb. Vanish line, spooled on an Abu Garcia reel and Fenwick rod.
Coleman’s second technique was a 2.5-inch Rapala DT10 Custom Ink color by Mike Iaconelli, on 12lb. Vanish line, an Abu Garcia reel and Shimano Sellus Crankbait rod.
2nd and 3rd Place at the event were very close as Dan Wells of Basin Bassmasters brought in 20.42 lbs.
An avid angler and writer, Jeff started tournament bass fishing in 1990. While his first love is bass fishing, he also enjoys fishing for other species including fly-fishing and saltwater.
Jeff is active with area bass organizations and has held most officer position at either the club or state level and has been a frequent State Team Qualifier. A guest speaker for the Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic, Jeff has presented numerous seminars and tank demonstrations and is dedicated to promoting the sport of fishing through education and youth.
Mike Coleman of Oro Madre Bass Anglers lands 2nd at the Clear Lake qualifying event.