DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

KEITH COMBS WINS AT FALCON LAKE

Posted by Z3 MEDIA TEAM on 03/25/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush

Zapata, TX – It took an extra day to crown the Elite Series champion on Falcon Lake due to strong winds that pushed the final day of competition back to Monday, but Texas’ Keith Combs was able to hold off a hard-charging Rick Clunn to collect the first Elite Series trophy of his career.  

Entering the final day with a slim lead of just one pound over Clunn, who had toted limits of 32-9 and 36-14 to the scales on Friday and Saturday to leap into contention, Combs went to work early on Monday, boating several kickers in the opening hours. Clunn’s day started slow, but began to materialize as the temperatures climbed in the afternoon.  In the end, Combs’ 28-2 limit on the final day boosted his total weight to 111-5 and outdistanced Clunn’s efforts by nearly 6-pounds.  

Combs, Clunn, and 3rd place finisher John Crews, all broke the 100-pound mark this week at Falcon, and Elite Series rookie Josh Bertrand came painfully close to earning his own century belt,  finishing in 4th place with 99-2. 

On Monday, just eight of the 12 remaining anglers brought a five bass limit to the scales, and just four of those anglers managed to break the 20-pound mark.  

The 5 Final Day Facts from Falcon Lake:   
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (March 21-24)
Location:  Falcon Lake – Zapata, Texas 
Winner:  Keith Combs (34-13, 28-1, 20-5, 28-2: 111-5)
2nd place weight: Rick Clunn (12-12, 32-9, 36-14, 23-3: 105-6)
Total weight separating 1st place from 2nd place:  5-15

1st Place: Keith Combs (34-13, 28-1, 20-5, 28-2: 111-5)
Was there a key moment for you during the tournament?
“The key moment for me this week was probably getting off to a good start on the first morning of the tournament.  It told me that I was doing the right thing.  I knew that I was on the pattern to catch big fish, but I wasn’t 100% sure that I could catch five big ones each day. 

“Getting off to that quick start and weighing-in a big bag on the first day definitely helped me.  On the second day it was kind of the same deal.  Even though I didn’t catch any fish out of the same hole where I caught them on Thursday, it was the same pattern.  It was just typical Falcon Lake where I would pull in and get a little flurry where I’d get two or three big bites.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“It pretty much relied on deep cranking with a Strike King Series 6XD crankbait all week.  Every day, I caught a big one cranking an area near launch that was six foot deep and dropped into 24 feet of water.  Most of the areas that I keyed on this week were areas that dropped off into deeper water.”  

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“I threw a Strike King Series 6XD crankbait this week in chartreuse with a powder blue back.  I threw it on a 7’0” Power Tackle PGC170 rod, and I paid really close attention to my line because I was grinding through a lot of rocks.  I used 15-pound-test Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. 

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect to your week on Falcon Lake?
“There were times during each tournament day where I went three or four hours without a bite, and that was really challenging for me.  There were times that I was in dry streak and I didn’t even have a limit and I was tempted to go up shallow and fish for a small one or just fish for a keeper.  

“There was a point on Saturday when I hit two areas that I considered small fish holes just to make sure that I made the cut.  I actually ended up weighing-in two 14-inchers that I caught out of those holes.  Outside of the actually fishing, the most challenging aspect of the tournament was when I had a mechanical issue and was still able to work through it and make it back to weigh-in with some help.” 

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“My execution was really good.  When you’re catching 7-pounders on a crankbait, you’d think that you’d lose a few when they jumped.  I did lose one big fish this week on a crankbait that pulled off, but I never saw the fish so I really don’t know how big it was.  Other than that, my execution and decision making was perfect.

“My last fish of the day today was my biggest and it was over 7-pounds.  It culled a 1 1/2-pounder.  Without that fish, I think that I still would have won, but it would have been a lot closer.  I didn’t think that it was my insurance fish at the time, because I didn’t think that I had won.  Rick (Clunn) had caught 35-pounds two days in a row and I didn’t see why it would change today.”

2nd Place: Rick Clunn (105-6)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“I stumbled on a spot at the end of the first day of the tournament that I really didn’t understand quite yet.  I had been fishing shallow all day without getting many bites, and I decided to move out to see if I could find a rock pile or a bush that was holding some fish. 

“I caught a big one on a Luck-E-Strike Freak that was about a 7-pounder and then I caught another 3-pounder and another good one.  I ended up fishing that area for the rest of the tournament, but it’s hard to win on a lake like Falcon when you don’t have a limit on the first day.” 

Rick ClunnWhat was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“It turned into a square bill tournament for me once I understood what was going on.  It was all about getting the timing down and making the right cast.  On the second morning, I went back to the same area where I finished the first day and I immediately caught three good ones on the Freak.  It was like the fish were trying to move up to spawn, because most of the fish that I was catching were fat pre-spawners. 

On the third morning, I didn’t get a bite on the Freak, so I moved up on top with a Luck-E-Strike Series 3 crankbait and just murdered them.  I had my weight by 9:30 in the morning and basically quit fishing and started pitching a jig around and shaking fish off.  I was able to shake off most of the bites, but I ended up catching an 8-pounder on a jig.  Today on the final day, the area was just dead and the water was a lot murkier.”

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“The fish that I caught this week that were out deeper in about 8-feet of water came on a Luck-E-Strike Freak crankbait.  There was one little bush there or something that was holding them out there in that depth. 

“When the fished moved up, I threw a Luck-E-Strike Series 3 in Copper Green Shad.  On the final day, I caught a three on a rattling crankbait and two on the Series 3.  You had to make the right cast on each bush and you had slice its heart in half and come right through the heart of the bush.  I’d get hung up quite a bit, but I was just as likely to have a 6- or 7-pounder get a hold of it on the next cast.”

John Crews 3rd Place: John Crews (103-13)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“It was definitely the bait that I was throwing.  I was throwing a Missile Baits Missile Craw for most of the tournament, but I started with a Missile Baits D Bomb in practice, which is a bulkier bait.  You’d think that you’d want a bulkier bat on a lake like Falcon, but I practiced an entire day with it and only had one bite. 

“I put the Missile Craw on and caught a fish on the second flip on the second day of practice.  Within the next 15 minutes, I caught three big ones.  It turned out that the bait switch was the key to my week.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I ended up catching quite a few fish flipping behind other people with the subtle bait.  I caught fish from 4- to 12-feet flipping.  On the first day and today, I caught some offshore fish.  I caught two big ones offshore on the first day and two big ones offshore today on a Little John DD crankbait and also a Missile Baits Tomahawk worm.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“The majority of my fish came on a Missile Baits Missile Craw.  I caught two deepwater fish on a Spro Little John DD and two deepwater fish on a Missile Baits Tomahawk worm.” 

Josh Bertrand 4th Place: Josh Bertrand (99-2)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“It had to have been patience.  I didn’t have a lot of stuff going, but I did have one area where I had a lot of confidence.  The area was reloading with fish and had some fish that were moving into the area.  Halfway through the tournament, I got nervous because I thought that I was running out of fish but the day off really helped the area reloaded for the final day today.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“All of my fish were post-spawn fish that were sitting on top of a long, drawn out point.  The whole key for me was that they were on top of the point holding on isolated trees.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“I mixed it up between a Spro Deep Little John crankbait, 10” Berkley Power Worm, and a 7” stick bait.  I just tried to hit the trees from different angles to trigger one to bite.” 

Cliff Prince 5th Place: Cliff Prince (95-9)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“The biggest key for me this week was the fact that I was able to catch at least one 8-pounder each day.  I also was really lucky that I didn’t lose any fish that really hurt me.  I lost a couple fish during the week, but it only cost me a total of about 3-pound.  Executing and landing my big bites was huge.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“A lot of the guys were catching more fish that I caught this week.  I was flipping mesquite bushes that were in four to five feet of water.  I also had a little bit of a deep bite going on where I caught one good fish each of the first three days.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“My cranking fish came on a ¾-ounce Bomber Fat Free Shad and ½-oune fat free shad.  My flipping fish came on a YUM Vibra King tube in green pumpkin and also a YUM Wooly Bug that I dressed with a homemade punch skirt.” 

6th Place: Edwin Evers (94-10)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“It all came down to slowing down.  I like to fish fast and cover a lot of water, but I had about four or five areas this week that I just sat on for four days.  I also had a big bite each day.  I had a big bite today, but I just didn’t get it in the boat. 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I had a crankbait that I used as a search bait.  When I’d get a bite or two, it really keyed me in to slow down and I’d throw a big worm.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“My crankbait was a a Megabass Deep-Six, and when I slowed down I threw a magnum trick worm on a Pumpkin’Ed jighead.”

7th Place: Brandon Card (94-5)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“The key was fishing my strengths and flipping.  I was working with a limited practice because of travel time, and I really didn’t learn much on the first day.  I stayed out deep on the first two days of practice and just never found anything.  I moved up shallow on the final practice day and found them pretty good.”

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I was flipping the entire tournament. I keyed on some trees, but it was mostly bushes.  I really got bit out of the ones that were really thick with an opening in the middle.”

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“1/2-ounce Killer Baits jig in a natural color that I tipped with an old-school Zoom chunk. 

8th Place: Jason Williamson (94-2)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“I spent a lot of my practice out deep and I just couldn’t get anything going so I went shallow.  On the first morning, I caught fish were I found them in practice but those fish were gone on the second morning, so I started running new water and that was key.  I found an area on the second day where I got a couple big bites and I went back and just settled down in that area on the third day and caught over 30-pounds.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“The bigger fished seemed to be in 4 feet of water or less.  The last two days, the fish came off of hard wood more than the bushes.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“I flipped a ¾-ounce Buckeye Lures JWill Heavy Cover jig in Perfect Craw with a Zoom Super Speed Craw in green pumpkin.  I was fishing in pretty clear water and I just couldn’t get many bites on braid so I flipped with 20-pound-test Gamma Fluorocarbon.” 

9th Place: Cliff Crochet (82-6)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“I guess the key word would be stick-to-itiveness.  I really thought that I’d get more bites coming into the tournament.  I caught a 7-pounder out of an area in practice and I talked to another angler who caught an 8-pounder in the same area during practice.  I just stuck with that area because I had confidence in it.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“There are about 10 million bushes in the water, but there were certain trees that I was keying on.  I looked for single trunk trees that were hardwood and lying at the right angle.  If you found that, it was the juice.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“I flipped a Hunny Bunny Baits K2 Craw creature bait with a 1/2-ounce Reins Tungsten weight.

10th Place: Billy McCaghren (80-14)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“The key to me was sun and no wind. When it clouded up, the fish didn’t suspend and I really had to fish hard to get bit.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I was catching most of my fish suspended out of the trees.  Most of the fish that I caught hit the bait on the fall. The wind muddied my water up today and I was unable to adjust.  I just ran around and scrambled.  I basically had two areas that held the fish to really do well here.”

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“The jig I used was a Talon ¾-ounce BillyMac jig that I designed.  It’s just about to be released and I had them hold off the release of the jig until after this tournament was over.”

11th Place: Gary Klein (80-11)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“The most important thing for me this week was the fact that I had confidence in what I was doing.  I understood the fish that I was trying to catch even though I wasn’t getting a lot of bites.  I don’t think that a lot of other guys grinded as hard as I did during this tournament.  

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“The fish were in the biggest bushes that I could find in two to four feet of water. Even though I was fishing a vast area, I could go through it and pretty much tell where I was going to get the bites.  I was moving through the area pretty quickly.”

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“Berkley HAVOC Pit Boss in Big Texan with a 5/16th ounce Eco Pro Tungsten weight. I was also catching a few fish on a big 1 ¼ ounce jig and I caught one fish each of the first three days on a crankbait.”   

12th Place: Jason Christie (75-4)
What was the biggest key to success this week on Falcon Lake?
“I had a lucky week.  I was staying close and fishing the shad spawn each morning.  Each of the first three days I caught two or three big ones doing that.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“After I fished the shad spawn, I’d run down and catch one or two big ones cranking on the lower end. I decided to stay close today and I just never found them.

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“My primary flipping bait was a 7” YUM Dinger, and I was cranking a Bomber BD7 in Citrus Shad.  That was really important because I caught one or two great big ones each of the first three days cranking.” 

 

FINAL STANDINGS

 

Place PRO ANGLER
Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4 Total Fish Total Weight
FishWeightFishWeightFishWeightFishWeight
1 Keith Combs 5 34-13 5 28- 1 5 20- 5 5 28- 2 20 111- 5
2 Rick Clunn 3 12-12 5 32- 9 5 36-14 5 23- 3 18 105- 6
3 John Crews 5 26- 3 5 15- 8 5 32-11 5 29- 7 20 103-13
4 Josh Bertrand 5 30- 5 5 23- 0 4 18-11 5 27- 2 19 99- 2
5 Cliff Prince 5 30-13 5 22-12 5 23- 2 5 18-14 20 95- 9
6 Edwin Evers 5 26- 8 5 28-15 5 23- 8 5 15-11 20 94-10
7 Brandon Card 5 20- 3 5 25-12 5 29- 3 5 19- 3 20 94- 5
8 Jason Williamson 5 23-12 5 20- 7 5 32- 9 5 17- 6 20 94- 2
9 Cliff Crochet 5 18-12 5 35- 3 5 18- 7 3 10- 0 18 82- 6
10 Billy McCaghren 5 20- 5 5 20- 3 5 31-12 4 8-10 19 80-14
11 Gary Klein 5 21-11 5 28-12 5 28- 6 1 1-14 16 80-11
12 Jason Christie 5 28-15 5 25- 1 5 18- 1 2 3- 3 17 75- 4