By David A. Brown
1. Tournament winner Joe Uribe Jr. caught his fish on a dropshot with a 6-inch Roboworm in morning dawn on a 2/0 Robowom Rebarb hook and a 3/16-ounce Voss tungsten weight and a white double buzzbait with a Zoom Horny Toad and a trailer hook.
Difference Maker: Uribe said the confidence in his ability to make the right presentations was essential, particularly when he needed to place his buzzbait in small weed holes next to the bank. For this, he used a Performance Tackle Custom Frog Rod with an 8.21 Daiwa Pitch/Flip reel carrying with 50-pound Sunline FX 2 braid.
2. Finishing second, Luke Johns caught his El Cap fish by flipping grass with a Yamamoto Cowboy. He attacked San Vicente with a power-shot carrying a 6-inch Roboworm in morning dawn, a 6-inch leader of 12-pound fluorocarbon and a 1/4-ounce weight.
Difference Maker: Key to his presentations was a Dobyns Champion XP 703 baitcasting rod with a Shimano Curado reel and 12-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon.
3. Scott Hellesen spent his mornings fishing a wacky-rigged 5-inch green pumpkin Senko. Later in the day, he shifted to dropshotting a 6-inch margarita mutilator Roboworm.
Difference Maker: Dealing with spooky fish, especially on the ultra-clear San Vicente, Hellesen armed himself with the tackle necessary for long casts. He used a Stealth Stix Skinny Pete rod with a Shimano Vanford 3000, 8-pound Daiwa J-Braid and an 8-pound Seaguar Tatsu leader.
4. Thomas Kanemoto fared best on El Capitan, where he caught his fish on a dropshot with a 3-inch Keitech Easy Shiner.
Difference Maker: Because the fish he was targeting were following bait schools close to the bottom, Kanemoto used a 3/8-ounce tungsten weight to reach them with a finesse presentation.
5. David Swendseid used a Duo Realis Spinbait 90 in black ayu to find fish and then focused his effort with a Duo Realis Boostar Wake in pearl and a shrimp color. He also caught fish on a Texas-rigged Japanese creature bait.
Difference Maker: Swendseid based his success on Garmin LiveScope, but not only for fish finding. He also benefitted from the immediate returns that showed key topography transitions. The deeper transitions near the bank were key.
6. Austin Bonjour caught his El Cap fish on a dropshot with a 6-inch Roboworm in Oxblood red flake and a 1/4-ounce weight, along with a 1/2-ounce chartreuse/white Z-Man Chatterbait Jackhammer with a Zoom Super Fluke in disco green. On San Vicente, he used a dropshot with a 7-inch Roboworm in margarita mutilator.
Difference Maker: Bonjour relied on a 722 iRod Air with 6-pound Seaguar InvisX for dropshotting sensitivity, while a 7.4:1 Shimano Curado K with 20-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon gave his the speed and strength for ripping the Chatterbait through the grass to trigger bites.
7. Matthew Nadeau caught his fish on a 2.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact Fat in electric shad on a 3/16-ounce ball head jig, a Rebel Pop-R and a Lobina Lures RICO — both in shad colors — and a wacky-rigged 5-inch Yamamoto Senko in green pumpkin.
Difference Maker: Nadeau said he came into this event knowing he’d lean heavily on the Keitech and fishing it on 8-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon allowed him to make long casts with plenty of fish-fighting strength.
8. Christian Ostrander employed a variety of baits including a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin Z-Man Custom Chatterbait with a green pumpkin Missile Baits D-Bomb, a Berkley Choppo 120 in clear, a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait in sexy shad and a 1/2-ounce Z-Man SlingBladeZ spinnerbait with a Zoom Fluke trailer.
Difference Maker: Ostrander used his Garmin LiveScope to find small bellies with grass on El Capitan, where he matched his baits to the grass depth.
9. Taking ninth place, Nick Wood relied mostly on a 1/4-ounce Frenzy Nail with a green pumpkin Z-Man FattyZ worm. On San Vicente, he fished a dropshot with a 6-inch margarita mutilator Roboworm.
Difference Maker: Wood said 6-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon was key for both presentations, as it provided essential sensitivity and just enough strength for repelling sharp quagga mussels on San Vicente.
10. Tenth-place Hayden Lee fished a dropshot with a 3/16-ounce weight and alternated between a 2.2-inch Keitech Swing Impact Fat and the Keitech Easy Shiner, both in Tennessee Shad. He also caught fish on a 3/16-ounce ball head with a 3.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact Fat and 1/8- and 1/4-ounce underspins with 2.2-inch Keitech Swing Impact Fat trailers.
Difference Maker: Lee said credited his Garmin Panoptix LiveScope for helping him find the fish and bait. With much of the shallow water heavily pressured, he targeted fish suspending over 85-100 feet.