By Billy “Hawkeye” Decoteau
Recently I had the pleasure to spend some time with Del Rio, Texas’s Professional Bass Angler Keith Combs. When Combs isn’t hauling his Ranger Bass Boat all over the country chasing the FLW Outdoors Bass Tour, (Check out Combs success @ www.FLWOutdoors.com) he’s throttling up his Evinrude Outboard, with enthusiastic clients chasing monster bass on Texas’s Lake Amistad. “When I’m not competing professionally, I’m guiding or instructing ambitious bass enthusiast through my guide service” Combs says.
In recent years Lake Amistad has certainly earned it’s reputation for Big Bass, especially since Big-Money tournaments continue to expose Amistad’s untapped hidden trophies. Nestled along the Mexican border, Lake Amistad was impounded in 1969 via the damming of three major river systems, the Rio Grande, Pecos and Devils River. With 64,900 acres of surface water, depths that range over 200’, Lake Amistad is a Bass Anglers’ Paradise!
“Amistad has virtually every type of structure and cover available,” suggest Combs. Continuing the Del Rio guide listed; points, coves, flooded timber, brush piles, rocky shorelines, inlets, submerged humps, ledges, boulders, drop-offs, and islands. “From 1975 until 1980 Amistad was stocked with Florida-strain bass, add in a Hydrilla blossom explosion, a strong forage population and Lake Amistad is much more than a Trophy Bass Lake. Lake Amistad is the ultimate body of water for serious bass anglers to become proficient in every technique from shallow water to deep water!”
Comb’s guide service, ‘Keith Combs’ Trophy Bass Guide Service’ (www.TrophyBassGuide.com) is more than merely a day-on-the-water fishing expedition! No doubt everyone within the Bass’n Community has heard about Lake Amistad this past April surrendering Bassmaster Elite Angler Todd Faircloth 36 lbs of bass in 10 minutes from a single tree! “Todd referred to his tree as a ‘Magic Tree’, smiled Combs as he quickly injected, “due to it consistently producing ‘Big Bass’.
Faircloth is an experienced tournament angler and certainly well respected among his peers, however Todd and his ‘Magic Tree’ included an illusion that most other anglers may have overlooked! “Big Bass occupy specific areas, for specific reasons. More often than not these areas are almost microscopic when compared to the big picture such as an impoundment the size of Lake Amistad. There are several factors prevalent to areas Big Bass occupy,” suggest Combs. “Big Bass tend to be in slightly deeper water, they must have a consistently easily attainable forage supply close by, and one of the most important factors they specifically seem to prefer is isolated cover……….such as Todd’s ‘Magic Tree’.”
Reaching into his Ranger rod locker, Combs gently removed three pre-rigged rods placing them on his Z-20’s deck, and then turned towards me with a bass-eating grin while displaying a huge swimbait. “This is a Big Bass Bait!” Proceeding with his Trophy Bass lesson Keith continued to educate me in the technique of pursing Big Bass. “This particular swimbait is produced by Tru-Tungsten, it’s a 7” Tilapia baitfish imitation.” Tilapia is very common forage on Lake Amistad. (www.Tru-Tungsten.com)
Overwhelmed by Keith’s attention to details, the Lake Amistad Trophy Bass Guide dissected each of his pre-rigged arsenals, explaining the imperative importance of comfortable balanced tackle. Due to the Tilapia baits size and weight Combs utilizes Power Pro braided line, for it’s strength and castability. (www.PowerPro.com) “For some reason, at times the bass seem to follow this bait and just as it is about to come out of the water they inhale it! Without Power Pro line in combination with the fast tip action and extreme strength of Power Tackle’s Swimbait Rods (www.PowerTackle.com), many of my clients would have only lost bass memories, verses actual pictures of them holding trophy size bass!”
Handing me his 8’ Power Tackle Ultimate Swimbait Special Rod, Combs removed his Shimano Reel and told me to hold the rod in one hand, the Tilapia Swimbait in the other hand, then asked which felt heavier? I was in shock the 8’ Power Tackle Swimbait Rod actually felt lighter! “That SBP5-80 Power Tackle Swimbait Rod weighs only 7oz, yet can handle swimbaits up to 8oz.” Instructing me to actually bend the rods guides, as though I had stepped on them, Combs just laughed as I watch them pop back in place undamaged. “Those are RECOIL Guides as you witnessed they are just about indestructible!”
“I can’t tell you how many times clients have actually just lifted Trophy Bass over the side of the boat, either because they were just too excited or because the bass engulfed their bait a rods length away. But, I can tell you that most any other rod would break lifting a 10lb plus largemouth that way!” (Watch for a complete Tackle Review covering all the Power Tackle Rod Series forthcoming on www.BassEast.com)
Repeat clients and positive feedback is essential to Keith Combs’ success as a Trophy Bass Guide. With that thought in mind Combs cuts no corners when it comes to pursuing Trophy Bass with his clients. Casting large baits all day long and retrieving them can be extremely tiring, yet it is exactly what needs to be done at times in pursuit of Trophy Bass. “Many of my clients are novice bass anglers, but in no-way will I sacrifice inferior tackle! My clients utilize the exact same tackle and baits that I use on the FLW Tour!”
Demonstrating the proper side arm lobbing cast technique, I watched Keith Combs launch his swimbait with significant ease and distance. “Power Tackles 8’ length increases my casting distance, while the Palming Grip aids in comfort, eliminating tired fatigued hands from holding a trigger grip all day long.”
When it comes to hook sets utilizing the 8’Power Tackle Swimbait Rod, Combs advises his clients to simply sweep-set to their side while continuing to reel. “Trophy Bass usually want an extremely slow non-threatening presentation. The more natural our retrieve speed and our baits presentation appearance, the better our changes of enticing them to eat our baits! And, did I mention….Big Bass don’t play with their food……….They just swallow it!
Listening to Keith’s enthusiasm and passion for bass angling, it became very apparent, Keith Combs’ might very well be listed among Texas’s long list of licensed and insured Coast Guard approved Boat Captains harboring the title of Bass Guide Service, but in reality Combs’ is much, much more than a ‘Guide’……………Keith Combs is a Professional Bass Angling Instructor!!!
God Bless and Best Bass’n