By Billy “Hawkeye” Decoteau
While Professional Bass Pro Shop Angler Stacy King zipped around Arkansas’s Beaver Lake in his Nitro Z-9 (www.NitroBoats.com) at the lower end of the impoundment, Texas’s Keith Combs flipped and pitched Texas rigged baits to flooded brush in the upper section of Beaver with his Power Tackle Rods (www.PowerTackle.com). Utilizing two completely different patterns during a recent FLW Outdoors tournament (www.FLWOutdoors.com) both professional bass anglers managed to place high enough to collect respectable payouts. And, for Comb’s, this Ranger/Evinrude Pro landed his highest FLW 2009 finish to date!
After four-days of practicing at both ends of the Beaver, King decided to chase post spawn smallmouth and spotted bass in the clear water lower section. “This is my favorite time of the year to fish, therefore my confidence level in the lower section helped me make my decision,” says Missouri’s Stacy King. King’s tactics will work just about anywhere in the United States where deep-water harvest’s smallmouth or spotted bass.
Locating the bass is the first obstacle to overcome, and then making your presentations precisely within the suspended schools of bass is imperative to success. “During the tournament on Beaver my fishing log reveals, windy cloudy conditions produced not only more bites but also larger size bass. When the water surface was calm or a slight breeze cause a small ripping effect, the bass just didn’t respond to my baits as well!”
Visiting the FLW Outdoors web site, the number of limits as well as the weights justifies King’s statements! King managed to secure a five bass limit on competition Day#1 tipping the scales at 9.5 lbs, however on competition Day#2 his daily creel weight dropped to 8.0 lbs. “I was really blessed to have nine good keeper bites on the first day allowing me to cull a few bass, however on the second day I believe I made as many prayers as I did casts! I had five-bites all day and thankfully was able to land all five 15” keepers!”
Kings arsenal and techniques consisted of impaling a three-five inch Kalin Bluegill colored single tail grub onto Bass Pro Shops ¼ or 5/16 oz leadheads (www.BassProSjops.com), making long cast and just swimming his grub through schools of suspended bass. “It’s a simple pattern, yet works tremendously,” instructs King. Stacy King also revealed that most of the smallmouth and spotted bass he located were suspended ten to thirty-five feet below the surface over fifty-five foot depths.
Although, Stacy King’s total weight may have only been 17.5 lbs, his techniques and bass fishing knowledge landed him a 49th Place finish, (out of 200 anglers) while earning the Nitro/Mercury sponsored Pro Angler a $10,000 payout!
While King’s tournament efforts on Beaver Lake ended after competition Day#2, those anglers listed in the Top-10 positions on the Leaders’ Board advanced for two more days of competition. Finishing Day #2 with 21.05 lbs Del Rio Texas’s Keith Combs managed to land another FLW Outdoors Top-10 finish. With 17 Top-10 finishes, Comb’s anticipated a possible win on Beaver Lake. “My pattern was quite unique, but really depended upon finding the spawning shad population,” says the Ranger Pro.
Utilizing a white ½ oz shad pattern spinnerbait as a ‘Bird Dog’, Combs would make long cast with a Power Tackle Paragon Series PG143 6’10” rod spooled with 15 lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, along barren points. “I discovered that the shad would actually follow my spinnerbait, this in turn allowed me to then switch to a Norman’s Deep Little ’N’ in a Nutty Shad color to entice the bass below the school of shad to bite.”
Just cranking and winding wasn’t enough, Comb’s had to make contact with any pieces of cover or bottom structure contour changes so that his Deep Little ‘N’ crankbait bounced off making sudden erratic movements. “Although I was only fishing water depths ranging from two-ten feet, I needed to make longer cast with the crankbait to reach the bottom as soon as possible and then keep my crankbait slowly crawling in the strike zone.” To do this Combs rigged his Norman crankbait on a Power Tackle Paragon PGC 170 7’ rod, tied to Seaguar Fluorocarbon line. (www.Seaguar.com) “In my opinion Seaguar is the best fluorocarbon line on the market. Its inherent sinking qualities, aided my crankbaits ability to stay on the bottom, while Seaguars extreme sensitivity and low stretch helped me detect the most subtle bites,” claims Combs.
When the Texas pro wasn’t able to locate the spawning shad he hit the flooded banks flipping. “This too proved to be one of those situations where the spot on the spot made all the difference as to getting bites or returning with an empty livewell.” Keith Combs must have been born with the patience of Job? “There were times when I would go three-four hours without getting a bite,” replied Combs with a wry smile.
However, Combs isn’t considered one of Texas’s Top Bass Guides for his patience! (www.TrophyBassGuide.com) Keith Comb’s is a seasoned professional with an extremely keen eye for reading minute details surrounding every bass bite. “As long as I was able to find flooded green brush with some type of horizontal piece of cover, such as a laydown, it was guaranteed to have a bass on it.”
Combs choice of flipping baits was simple…Strike Kings ‘Game Hawg’! “This bait has quickly become my go to bait for flipping. In this scenario I rigged a 4” Green Pumpkin Game Hawg on a 3/0 wide gap off set hook, with a 5/16 oz weight, tied to 20 lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, and utilized a Power Tackle (www.PowerTackle.com) Paragon PG104.5 7’6” Flipping Stick.”
With high flooded water conditions, Keith Comb’s found muddy conditions to exist in all of his areas. “Everyone of my presentations consisted of working my baits slowly, while making sure I made continued contact with every piece of cover.” At times Combs would also turn to a Carolina Rigged Game Hawg, equipped with a 1 oz weight, with a 4-5 foot leader of 15 lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon. “I actually would make long cast along shallow barren shorelines and points, just slowly creeping the Game Hawg along until I hit something on the bottom. Here I would twitch my bait several times with the rod tip and then start my slow retrieve again.
When the scales were finally closed on the fourth and final day of competition Keith Comb’s final two-day total of 16.14 lbs secured him a 5th Place $30,000 FLW Tour payout. In addition Combs collected valuable points towards qualifying for the FLW Championship, at this writing Combs is in 36th place overall in the FLW Tour Standing.
God Bless and Best Bass’n
Woods and Waters USA