DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

SKEET REESE WINS AT WEST POINT

Posted by Z3 MEDIA TEAM on 05/05/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush - Photos by Dave Rush

Skeet ReeseLaGrange, GA – After recording two Elite Series victories during the 2010 season, Skeet Reese took a hiatus from the winner’s circle. With three top 10 finishes on the Elite Series in the past two and a half years, it was just a matter of time until he regained his form and once again hoisted another blue trophy over his head.  

That time came on Sunday at West Point Lake, as Reese put together an impressive final day limit weighing 15-4 to jump to from 7th place to the top of the leaderboard.  With a total weight of 46-6, he collected his fourth Elite Series trophy in front of a large crowd that braved inclement weather in LaGrange, Georgia.  

Alabama’s Aaron Martens, who remained in the top five and held the tournament lead after day two, finished in 2nd place with a total weight of 42-2 after bringing in a limit weighing 11-12 on Sunday.  Mississippi’s Pete Ponds slipped one place on Sunday, finishing in 3rd place with a total weight of 44-1, and North Carolina’s Hank Cherry finished in 4th place with 41-2.  

Despite bringing just four bass to the scales weighing 7-pounds on Sunday, Todd Faircloth rounded out the top five with a total weight of 39-1. 

In all, seven of the 12 anglers brought a limit to the scales on Sunday, and four of them were able to crack the 10-pound mark. 

In the Toyota Angler Of the Year race at the midway point in the Elite Series season, Edwin Evers leads the way with 330 points.  Seven-time Angler Of the Year, Kevin VanDam, is in 2nd place with 324 points, and Skeet Reese jumped to 3rd in the TAOY standings after West Point with a total of 310 points.  The TAOY race is tight heading in to the second half of the season next week on the Alabama River, as 14 Elite Series pros are within 50 points of the TAOY lead.   

The 5 Final Day Facts from West Point Lake:    
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (May 2-5)
Location: West Point Lake – LaGrange, Georgia  
Winner:  Skeet Reese (13-0, 9-10, 8-8, 15-4: 46-6)
2nd place weight: Aaron Martens (42-2)
Total weight separating 1st place from 12th place: 16-7

1st Place: Skeet Reese (13-0, 9-10, 8-8, 15-4: 46-6)
What was your mindset heading into the final day of competition?
“I didn’t think that I would be fishing with a spinning rod, but I just adapted with the conditions.  Even after day one, I was excited that I had a good bag and was sitting in 5th place.  It was back to reality on day two, and I didn’t think that I’d even make the top 12 cut with what I had yesterday. 

“It wasn’t until last night after I made the cut that I realized just how tight the weights in the top 12 were and that it was wide open for anybody.  I figured that somebody who could catch 14- to 16-pounds today would end up winning it.  Fortunately, I was the one who caught 15-pounds.”

Skeet Reese How would you summarize your final day on West Point Lake?
“I caught my first two fish of the morning on an LV100 Lucky Craft just fishing shallow flats in the backs of ditches.  Then I picked up a dropshot with a 4” Smoke/Purple Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper and caught two more keepers.  

“After that, I went quite a while without getting a bite.  I tried catching some suspended spotted bass and it just wasn’t happening, so I decided that I wanted to put my trolling motor down and fish because it was the first time that we had any sun since Tuesday.  I was hoping that the sun would position the fish, and it did.  I was able to pick one off here and there, and I was fortunate that they were all decent fish.”  

What was your primary pattern throughout the week? 
“A lot of my fish this week were fry guarders. I also caught a couple of my bigger ones fishing shade lines.  There were certain trees that had some little brushy stuff underneath the overhang that the fish could get around.  I think that some of the fish may have been keying around bluegill beds as well.  

“For the most part, there weren’t any good stringers that came out of the area after the first day.  I think that most people had given up on the area.  Today, I was the only boat in there.  I thought that there would be a lot of local boats in there, but thankfully there wasn’t.  The place settled down, and with the lack of boat traffic, the fish felt comfortable.  With the water temperature coming back up again, the conditions were really good for the fish to start getting active again.  It’s a fairly good sized creek, but there were probably 20 boats that fished it on the first day and I was the only one that fished it today.”

“That creek gets stocked because there’s a ton of release fish in there.  It also has more types of grass in it than I saw in any other creek, so that probably helped it as well. 

Skeet Reese

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“For the spinning rod and reel combination, I was using my 6’8” Wright & McGill Shaky Head/Senko rod with a new carbon fiber spinning reel that’s a prototype.  I used 12-pound-test Berkley NanoFil in green color with a 10-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leader and 2/0 TroKar TK110 hook. The NanoFil was really important because it casts further than anything that you’ll ever throw.  It’s slick and it skips and casts incredible.  It made me a lot more efficient.   

"I used a 5” weightless worm, and I also used a 4.75” Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper Jr. in Smoke/Purple on a dropshot and a 5” wacky-rigged Berkley Dover Crawler in Methiolate color.   I also caught some key fish on a Lucky Craft LV 100.  

Was there a key moment for you during the tournament?
“If I hadn’t pulled out the LV100 and I had just stuck with what I was doing, then I wouldn’t have weighed-in what I did on the second day and I wouldn’t have made the cut to fish today.  For me, that was one of those defining moments that really stands out this week.  

“I felt like the fish were in shallow pockets that had different types of grass and combinations of grass on the flats.  In the morning, you could see some shad spawning and flickering around the grass lines, so I knew that they had to be eating some shad. I hadn’t chased the shad spawn all week, so instead of just rotting and fishing slow, I wanted to fish fast with my confidence bait.  Most of the shad that I saw were pretty small, so that bait fit the hatch pretty well.”

Aaron Martens 2nd Place: Aaron Martens (13-5, 11-9, 7-12,11-12: 44-6)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“I had less than 8-pounds yesterday and that was probably the key to why I didn’t win today, but I’d say that the key to my success was probably the lighter 12-pound-test Sniper line and I was making really long and accurate casts.  I take pride in my casts, and I like to think that I’m pretty accurate.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I was fishing a lot of the ‘fur-ball’ stuff in the water and little bushes with fuzzy balls on the tops of them.  You really had to cast underneath them so that you could get to the sticks in the water.  It took a lot of skip casting and casting where I was aiming for little holes.  I should have fished for largemouth every day, looking back.

“When I fished for spotted bass, I was keying on shoals and saddles – anywhere where the wind and current would collect the fish.  The problem this morning was that there was no current and I wasted half of my day fishing for spotted bass.  I went largemouth fishing and culled three in the last four hours and lost a 5-pounder.”   

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“For the spotted bass, I threw a Megabass 110 Magnum jerkbait in Pro Green color with 10-pound-test SunLine Sniper line.”

Pete Ponds 3rd Place: Pete Ponds (8-11, 13-0, 11-5, 11-1: 44-1)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“I’d have to say that the biggest key was being persistent with the topwater bite.  That’s how I caught most of my fish, but I can’t give thee topwater bite all the credit, because I also really relied on an area that had a drain.  I caught one fish out of there the first day, two fish out of there yesterday, and four fish out of there today. It took a combination of a couple things.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“The drain was a waterfall where there was a lot of water pouring down it.  One side was a little bit deeper than the other and the fish would load up there.  If you’d leave them alone for a little while and come back, you’d catch another fish or two.

“I really feel strongly that my topwater fish were postspawn because I wasn’t catching them right up against the bank.  They were positioned right about where you’d put your boat if you were going to flip the bank.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“When I was fishing the drain, I threw a Talon spinnerbait.  My topwater fish came on a Pop-R."

Hank Cherry 4th Place: Hank Cherry (12-4, 8-12, 9-6, 10-12: 41-2)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“It would have to be not getting down when I wasn’t getting bites and just forcing myself to keep moving around the lake.”

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I really spent the entire tournament chasing the shad. I never saw any, but I would chase them on the depth finder.  I’d pull up on points and see balls of them down there. I think that the shad would have pulled up and spawned during the tournament, but the temperature kept dropping, so they were just holding out and I was fishing around them.

“I pretty much ran that pattern from one end of the lake to the other, but I got cut off as the tournament went on because the rain dirtied a lot of the water.  I was keying on flat points and it didn’t matter if it was on the main channel or the backs of the creeks.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“I threw a couple different jerkbaits. I threw a Livingston Lures jerkbait when I was fishing up shallower because it’s more buoyant, and I used a Megabass for the deeper fish that were suspended.  I also threw a regular white swimming jig some."

Todd Faircloth5th Place: Todd Faircloth (7-12, 8-12, 15-9, 7-0: 39-1)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“The key would have to be the third day of the tournament when I caught the big bag.  Usually, I take some gambles and risks on the third day and I probably should have done a little bit more of that earlier in the tournament on the second day.

“When you catch a big bag like that, it’s just human nature to try and duplicate it the next day.  I tried really hard to duplicate it today and I only had one fish at noon.  A lot of my water muddied up and the water got a lot higher and the fish just wouldn’t come up on the bait.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“The spotted bass were suspended over deep water and I caught most of them off of bridges and points.  All the largemouth came out of shallow grass.  All I was doing was running a bunch of shallow pockets each day looking for a few key largemouth bites.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics? 
“I caught them on a Strike King jerkbait, a popper, and a Strike King Shim E Stick.  I was really just mixing it up.  I caught most of my spotted bass on the jerkbait and most of the largemouth on the Shim E Stick and the popper.”

Chris Zaldain6th Place: Chris Zaldain (8-12, 12-12, 10-7, 6-15: 38-14)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The main key for me this week was slowing down and knowing that the fish were in the area I was concentrating on.  I saw plenty of fish in the area during practice, so that gave me the confidence to stick with it and just adapt to the changing conditions during the week. Some of the fish were just cruising, while others were actually bedding."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was using really light line and letting my bait sink all the way to the bottom.  I was pitching into six to eight feet of water and letting the bait sink all the way to the bottom and shaking it.  Sometimes I would deadstick the bait like we do out in California in the clear water.  Just knowing that the fish were there was crucial, because I knew that I had to fish super thoroughly to get a bite.  I was targeting pre-spawn areas where the last deep water in the pockets met the shallow water, just really basic stuff. "

What were your primary baits and tactics?
5 " Strike King Shim E Stick

Cliff Pace 7th Place: Cliff Pace (14-2, 7-4, 8-2, 9-2: 38-10)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"My biggest key to success this week was what I was able to do on the first day.  I spent the majority of my practice looking for areas that had a good population of bigger largemouth , and I found one.  I burnt it up catching what I did the first day, but that really carried me the rest of the week and I was able to just go junk fish for three days and make it to Sunday."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"The first day I was fishing that brown flooded bank grass on topwater, and also some flipping.  The rest of the event I started fishing out offshore a little bit because the grass had been beat to death by the rest of the field.  I knew there had to be some fish out a little deeper, and I was able to find enough to get me to the final day. "

What were your primary baits and tactics?
V&M Trickster Worm, Jackall SK-Pop Grande, Jackall Iobe

Greg Vinson8th Place:  Greg Vinson  (15-10, 9-3, 5-2, 8-2: 38 -1)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The key for me was sticking with the topwater bait all week.  I was fishing for a mixture of fish, some were guarding fry, some were bedding, and others were hanging around bream beds.  The topwater seemed to be the best deal for me to target those fish efficiently with the cloudy conditions we had all week. "

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was concentrating on short pockets off of the main lake and creeks.  The pockets needed to have deeper water nearby, and also have the dead flooded grass in them.  If you could find them with a mixture of grass then that was even better."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Rio Rico, Net Bait KICKIN' B

Rick Clunn9th Place: Rick Clunn  (7-11, 14-0, 8-7, 7-3: 37-5)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"I really like these lakes that are constantly changing each day.  It makes for a very even tournament, where the GPS coordinates guys get aren't as important.  You have to do it with what you have in your head, and those are the types of events I excel in, so that is probably why I did well here this week."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was concentrating on the deeper banks leading into the backs of the pockets that had the hay in them.  I wasn't able to catch them way out, the banks that had the depth had to be close to the pockets.  On the first day I was fishing the spinnerbait around wood, and letting it flutter off of the cover."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Rio Rico, Luck E Strike Trickster Spinnerbait

Tommy Biffle 10th Place: Tommy Biffle   (12-10, 10-9, 10-6, 1-5: 34-14)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The biggest key to success this week for me was just fishing hard.  I didn't have much going in practice so I just ran up the river and went fishing."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"I was running backwater areas up the river this week.  I noticed that the bigger fish I caught hadn't spawned yet, so that gave me the clue of what stage the fish were in up there.  I was only getting four or five bites each day, so the fishing was just really tough.  With all the rain that we had, the water just ended up getting way to dirty and I had to scramble around to catch what I did on the final day. "

What were your primary and tactics?
Gene Larew Biffle Bug,  1/2 OZ Spinnerbait, 1/2 OZ Jig

Casey Ashley 11th Place: Casey Ashley (8-15, 13-8, 9-5, 2-9: 34-5)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"There were several keys to my success this week but by far the biggest one was my starting spot.  I was able to pull up and catch a limit of spots pretty quick the first three days and that allowed me to go largemouth fishing the rest of the day with very little stress."

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
"The spots were kind of on a shad spawn like they get on at home.  I was fishing a big flat shoal, and just keying on that early morning bite.  The largemouth deal was basically just covering water with a topwater and fishing anything that looked good."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Zoom Super Fluke, Lucky Craft Gunfish

Cliff Crochet 12th Place: Cliff Crochet   (10-13, 9-10, 9-8, 0-0: 29-15)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Looking back on the week I would probably say the weather was the biggest key for me.  It really set up good for me, but it also ended up being my downfall.  The first three days we had the cloud cover and the fish were up shallow and roaming, and today we got sunshine and high pressure, which really hurt what I was doing.  "

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"I was just frogging all week long.  I was concentrating on that flooded dead grass that was all over the lake.  I covered a lot of water and did it again today, because I knew it was the only chance I had to win this thing. "

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Spro BronzEye Frog (Black)

A complete story will be posted shortly. 

FINAL STANDINGS

Place PRO ANGLER
Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4 Total Fish Total Weight
FishWeightFishWeightFishWeightFishWeight
1 Skeet Reese 5 13- 0 5 9-10 5 8- 8 5 15- 4 20 46- 6
2 Aaron Martens 5 13- 5 5 11- 9 5 7-12 5 11-12 20 44- 6
3 Pete Ponds 5 8-11 5 13- 0 5 11- 5 5 11- 1 20 44- 1
4 Hank Cherry 5 12- 4 5 8-12 5 9- 6 5 10-12 20 41- 2
5 Todd Faircloth 5 7-12 5 8-12 5 15- 9 4 7- 0 19 39- 1
6 Chris Zaldain 5 8-12 5 12-12 5 10- 7 5 6-15 20 38-14
7 Cliff Pace 5 14- 2 5 7- 4 5 8- 2 5 9- 2 20 38-10
8 Greg Vinson 5 15-10 5 9- 3 5 5- 2 5 8- 2 20 38- 1
9 Rick Clunn 5 7-11 5 14- 0 4 8- 7 3 7- 3 17 37- 5
10 Tommy Biffle 4 12-10 4 10- 9 5 10- 6 1 1- 5 14 34-14
11 Casey Ashley 5 8-15 5 13- 8 5 9- 5 2 2- 9 17 34- 5
12 Cliff Crochet 3 10-13 3 9-10 4 9- 8     10 29-15