February 1, 2014 by Gary Mortenson
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - With day-two co-angler leader Blaine Christiansen sitting rather comfortably in the lead, Todd Kline of San Clemente, Calif., decided it was time to save his best for last. With the crowd eagerly looking on to see who would capture the co-angler title, Kline approached the scales and didn't disappoint.
After hauling out four nice fish, Kline reached into his bag and produced a stunning 9-pound-plus largemouth - the largest fish caught in the tournament by far. The fish singlehandedly brought the raucous crowd to their feet and Christiansen down to defeat in one swift motion.
Needless-to-say, Kline was ecstatic with the outcome.
"It's just been an amazing week. I'm definitely blessed to have caught that fish," he said.
That one fish undoubtedly netted Kline a brand new, fully rigged Ranger Z117 bass boat as well as a lifetime of memories.
"When that fish hit I couldn't believe it," said Kline, reliving the moment. "I had tied on a crankbait, which I didn't fish with much this entire tournament, and it hit a couple of rocks and then, `bam!' I just thought, `Thank the Lord.'"
However, today's outcome was definitely in doubt up until that time. With strong westerly winds wreaking havoc on the field all day, Kline had to battle from the outset just to get to that point.
"It was a battle out there and there's blood to show for it," said Kline, pointing to his finger wrapped in gauze and still bleeding rather profusely. "But today was an absolute blessing. It's even better than my 2013 (Rayovac FLW Series) win on Lake Roosevelt. Here, with this weather, you really had to adapt every day. It was very challenging. So overall, this is probably the best tournament win of my career."
Kline said that he targeted bass with Alabama rigs, a 4-inch swimbait and his ultimate weapon - a Savage Gear crankbait.
"Basically I was fishing for anything that bit," joked Kline.
With a total catch of 41 pounds, 4 ounces, including a five-fish stringer weighing 17 pounds, 10 ounces in the finals alone, Kline said it's a tournament he'll probably never forget.
"It's the greatest win of my career," he said. "The anglers I was up against also really made this win special. It was an honor to fish against these guys. I really don't know what else to say."
As for Kline, he really didn't have to say anything else - as he let his fishing do all the talking today.
Heartbreak hotel for Christiansen
Sporting a 3 1/2-pound lead heading in the finals, the tournament title was definitely there for the taking for day-two co-angler leader Blaine Christiansen of San Jose, Calif. Coming off a catch of 21 pounds, 7 ounces in Friday's competition, it appeared that the California co-angler was destined to pull off a win - but alas, it was not to be.
On the final day, largely due to the excessive winds that swept through Lake Havasu, Christiansen could only muster a one-fish catch for 4 pounds, 4 ounces. Coupled with Kline's dramatic haul, it was just too much to overcome.
"Oh man, I thought I had a small chance there to win but when Todd pulled out that fish it was game over," he said. "But honestly, I couldn't lose to a better guy. He really deserved it."
Not surprisingly, Christiansen wasn't a big fan of the wind in today's final day of tourney action.
"It was brutal out there," he said. "It was really windy, cold and the fishing was a lot tougher," he said.
Christiansen did what he could, throwing a custom made underspin with a small swimbait in an attempt to duplicate his day-two efforts, but he just couldn't get the right fish in the boat. In the end, Christiansen walked away with $5,200 in winnings as well as some thoughts of what might have been.
"When you can taste first place it's pretty tough," he said. "But when the tournament started, I didn't think I'd even make it this far. So overall I'm pretty happy. It was a good week."
Christiansen ended the week with a total catch of 31 pounds, 4 ounces.
Haraguchi maintains third-place overall
Known as one of the most jovial anglers on the circuit, Gary Haraguchi of Redding, Calif., ended yet another tournament with a huge smile on his face. And why not, despite three brutally tough days of fishing, Haraguchi ground out a well-earned third-place finish to add to his long list of accomplishments - which now include 18 top-10 performances since 1997 and 14 since 2005.
"It was brutal, brutal, brutal out there today, but it was a lot of fun," said Haraguchi. "But I have to tell you, it was so windy that I could barely stand up. Luckily I'm short, otherwise I think I just might have been blown over."
Haraguchi said he fought the wind by throwing a combination of spoons, jigs, A-rigs and swimbaits, but it was only good enough to land one fish in the finals. But even still, with a total catch of 25 pounds, 5 ounces, it was still difficult to wipe the smile away from Haraguchi's face.
"I've had a blessed week," said Haraguchi, who walked away with $4,000 in winnings. "I couldn't have asked for much more."
Leue tallies fourth place overall
Daniel Leue of Colusa, Calif., used a total, three-day catch of 25 pounds, 1 ounce to ultimately finish the Lake Havasu event in fourth place.
"It was rough out there," he said. `I had the bites to get a limit but I just couldn't get them in the boat - and that was my fault. Overall, it was a good week, except for today."
Leue said he targeted bass on structure, points and grass with a combination of spinnerbaits and swimbaits.
"The wind generally helped my bite but today it was just too much," he lamented. "But it was still a lot of fun. This place fishes so much differently from anywhere else out West so I really love coming here."
For his efforts, Leue took home $3,500.
Best of the rest
Despite heading into the finals as the 10th-ranked qualifier, Aaron Agner of Anderson, Calif., leapfrogged into fifth place overall on the strength of a three-day catch of 21 pounds, 4 ounces. For his efforts, Agner won $3,000.
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler finalists:
6th: Roy O. Desmangles of Lincoln, Calif., 20-10.
7th: Michael Shoffner of Roseburg, Ore., 19-13.
8th: Debbie Carnahan of Flagstaff, Ariz., 18-9.
9th: Lonnie S. Foster of Kneeland, Calif., 18-8.
10th: Roger Haas of Morro Bay, Calif., 17-1.
Bass-fishing fans take note
Rayovac FLW Series Western Division action resumes May 15-17 on the California Delta in Bethel Island, Calif.