UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Lucky 13-13

Lucky 13-13
Local pro Mike Goodwin of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., led the charge on opening day of the inaugural FLW Series Western Division tournament with a five-bass weight of 13-13.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." While that might seem like a perfect slogan for the Army National Guard, the headlining sponsor of the new FLW Series Western Division, it also seemed like an appropriate rallying cry for today's befuddled field of anglers.

When all was said and done, it appeared that the only winner in today's competition was Lake Havasu itself. Despite the fact that 390 of the nation's best pros and co-anglers hit the open water with dreams of sharing in the tournament's total $1 million purse, only 15 pros were able to muster a five-fish limit. The entire pro field landed exactly 311 fish - approximately 1.6 fish per competitor. Co-anglers fared even worse, landing only 96 fish and zero five-fish limits. In fact, co-anglers turned in exactly zero four-bass bags and only five brought as many as three fish to the scales.

How's that for an extra-strength Havasu headache?

"Lake Havasu is a completely different lake in March," said pro leader Mike Goodwin, referring to the bountiful haul of largemouth and smallmouth bass that many anglers fondly remember during the 2004 Stren Series event on the same body of water. "But this lake is as tough as nails in the wintertime. In January, this is pretty much a brutal fishery."

However, for Goodwin, the "brutal" conditions were just as well. Exploiting his indispensable local knowledge as full-time resident of Lake Havasu City, Goodwin easily out-paced the rest of the competition, finishing a full 1 pound, 5 ounces ahead of his nearest competitor.

"I'm tickled to death right now, but we still have a long way to go," said Goodwin, acknowledging the perils of getting too excited during the first day of a four-day event. "It's a marathon and not a sprint. And I don't care who you are, anyone can go out there on any day and blank under these conditions."

While pleased with the end result, the Lake Havasu City native readily acknowledged the fact that it was far from an easy day of fishing.

"I'm fishing around a lot of people and I had to go and find a bunch of new spots to fish today," he said. "I wound up covering a lot of water. I pretty much ran all over the place. I have a lot of good areas in every direction on this lake but it doesn't mean that the fish are easy to catch. I actually wound up getting my fifth fish today with just four minutes left."

Goodwin said he caught his fish using a variety of techniques, fishing a combination of reaction baits, jigs and swimbaits in anywhere from 3 to 15 feet of water.

So what's in store for tomorrow?

"I'm not changing anything," said Goodwin, who boasts the 2004 Stren Series tournament title on Lake Havasu. "But I want the clouds to be gone and the sun cooking - (those conditions) just lock those fish on what I'm fishing. But you have to remember, fishing on Havasu is different from any other lake you'll ever fish."

Best of the rest

Pro R.J. Bennett of Roseville, Calif., grabbed second for the pros with a limit weighing 12-8.R.J. Bennett of Roseville, Calif., managed to turn in the second best performance of the day with an admirable 12-pound, 8-ounce limit.

"I'm really happy with it," said Bennett of his catch. "I lost one big fish but I found a really good area. I promised myself that if I caught five fish there I'd leave it alone for the rest of the day and that's what I did. Overall, it was a good day."

Pro Shaun Bailey of Lake Havasu CIty, Ariz., grabbed third place with a limit weighing 11-2.Another local pro, Shaun Bailey of Lake Havasu City, used an 11-pound, 2-ounce catch to vault into third place overall. However, Bailey just might have had the easiest day on the water out of anyone in the entire field.

"I caught four fish in like my first four casts and I pretty much had my limit by 9 a.m.," said Bailey. "I culled one more fish and was done by about 10 a.m. The rest of the day I pretty much left the rest of my fish alone."

Bailey said he was fishing a combination of plastic worms and jigs, using a drop-shot to target slopes and isolated structure in 5 to 15 feet of water.

"Today I stayed local," he said. "I'll probably stay local again tomorrow and run a lot more on the third day."

Rob Wenning of Sparks, Nev., placed fourth for the pros with for bass weighing 10-11.Rob Wenning of Sparks, Nev., grabbed fourth place overall with a catch of 10 pounds, 11 ounces. However, Wenning admits that he was as surprised as anyone by his finish, noting that he wasn't even sure if he'd finish in the top 100 today with the way his prefishing went.

"In four days of prefishing I had four bites," said Wenning. "I was going to be happy if I just caught two fish today and I wound up catching four. So, the way I look at it, I'm a whole day ahead of schedule."

Wenning said he targeted bass anywhere from 18 to 28 feet using a jig-and-pig and drop-shot techniques.

"My prefishing was terrible so today was just a great day," he said.

Eric McFarland of Meridian, Idaho, rounded out the top-five pro anglers with a total catch of 10 pounds, 8 ounces, while Jason Borofka of Salinas, Calif., captured the day's big bass award with an 8-pound, 2-ounce largemouth.

Rookie O'Donnell nets co-angler lead

Robert ODespite never having fished an FLW Outdoors event in his career, or any tour-level fishing tournament for that matter, Robert O'Donnell of Payson, Ariz., still managed to clobber the rest of the co-angler field with a most impressive 9-pound, 12-ounce catch.

"I struggled all day today but we just kept on at it," O'Donnell said. "We just kept working this one bank and a couple of points all day. But I didn't catch my first fish until 2 p.m. And I got my second fish after 3 p.m. I think I kind of got lucky."

Lucky or not, O'Donnell was the envy of the Co-angler Division by day's end.

"This is just awesome," he said. "It's my very first big tournament ever and I've never even fished this type of tournament format before. So I'm pretty happy. Now, everything can change tomorrow, but hey, it's working for me right now."

O'Donnell said the key to today's success was fishing slowly, targeting bass in about 3 feet of water on rocky structures.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-five co-angler leaders at the FLW Series Lake Havasu event:

2nd: David Shearrer of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., 6-10
3rd: Michael Crowther of La Jara, Colo., 5-14
4th: Paul Bailey of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 5-12
5th: Bill Scharton of Oakdale, Calif., 5-6

Day two of FLW Series Western Division action at Lake Havasu continues at Thursday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. Mountain time at Lake Havasu State Park, located at 699 London Bridge Road in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2007-01-31-lake-havasu 

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