ARLINGTON, Ore. — Playing the contrarian proved beneficial for Hayden Lee of Angels
Camp, Calif. who sacked up 17.66 pounds to lead Day 1 of the APEX Pro Tour on the
Columbia River presented by RomanMade Japan and A1 Tactical Outdoors.
In a smallmouth-dominated fishery, Lee anchored his bag with two hefty largemouths
and topped the first round by 1/100-ounce ahead of second-place Austin Bonjour.
“I had a 4- and a 5-pound largemouth today,” Lee said. “This (fishery) has more
largemouth than people give it credit for.”
Numerically, Lee caught more smallmouth than largemouth, but it was all part part of his
strategy to target areas where he’d likely find a mix of fish in all three stages of their
spawn. Spending his time in the upper half of the John Day/Umatilla Pool, he relied on
knowledge gained through previous visits to help him figure out where the fish would be
“I have a little bit of experience here, but I’ve never been here this time of year,” Lee
said. “I’ve only fished here during the postspawn, but I know how they’re acting, so I’m
fishing around areas I’ve fished before.
“I had a couple that were postspawn, but I don’t think the big wave of spawners has
come up yet.”
Focusing on hard bottom areas that would favor all three stages, Lee caught his fish
from mere inches of water out to 12 feet. He had two spots where he could get bit more
than once, but the rest of his fish came while he was trolling down the bank.
“I caught one good one in the morning, but my better catches came in the last hour after
the water warmed up,” Lee said. “The wind blew all day, so the water was colder. Also
when the wind stopped, the water cleared up — I had a foot and a half of visibility.
“They’re either on a bed or they’re looking to be on a bed. When the water cleared, they
started moving up.”
Lee caught his fish on a selection of reaction baits. Three of them did most of the work,
but Lee amassed most of his weight in the latter part of the day when he dialed in the
“There was a key decision later in the day when I switched to a different reaction bait,”
Lee said. “The fish wanted a different type of action.”
Confident in his game plan, Lee said he’ll return to the same area and pick up where he
left off for Day 2.
Bonjour, who makes his home in Atascadero, Calif. is in second place in the Total
Weight standings with 17.65. Nabbing a pair of 4-pound smallmouth between 12 and 1
made his day; a truth Bonjour credits to the calming afternoon wind.
“Later in the day, from noon to weigh-in, was when I caught most of my fish,” Bonjour
said. “The wind was blowing against the current all day. Once that laid off, it let the fish
set up in the current seams.”
Focusing on prespawn areas, Bonjour targeted big rocks that created current breaks.
He caught fish on a mix of finesse and reaction baits. For the latter, an iRod 703
Gabe’s Riprap Special rod and Seaguar fluorocarbon provided the action and
“My AFTCO Barricade bibs kept me dry when I was getting hit from the left and the
right in 5-foot waves,” Bonjour said.
Rounding out the top-5 were Nick Salvucci with 17.63, Nick Wood with 16.79 and
Matthew Nadeau with 16.76.
Scott Hellesen of Pasa Robles, Calif. leads the Most Scorable Bass standings with 47.
Fishing the Boardman area, he experienced a slow start, but his day improved
dramatically when he identified a key location.
“It was a one spot thing,” Hellesen said. “I had three keepers at 10:30, but I landed on
the right place. I spot-locked that spot and stayed there the rest of the day.
Hellesen’s honey hole was a levee with scattered rock outside a spawning bay.
Throwing a 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in chartreuse/blue and electric shad on a 1/4-
ounce ball head jig, he caught his fish in 7-8 feet.
“The fish were eating salmon smolt and this bait was the right size,” Hellesen said. “It
was very steady; it was just a matter of weeding through the smaller fish to get
Colby Pearson of Rogue River, Oregon is in second place in the Most Scorable Bass
standings with 40. Working the Umatilla Pool’s midsection, he caught his fish on a break
that dropped from 6 to 16 feet.
“I noticed that the bigger fish were on top off the break feeding and the deeper I got, the
smaller the fish I caught,” Pearson said.
Pearson caught most of his fish on a Duo Realis Spinbait 90 in perch color. He also
threw a perch color 4.3 Keitech on a 1/4-ounce ball head and a tube threaded onto the
hook of a 1/4-ounce tungsten ball head.
Pearson said he used this tube rigging strategy here was to make a loud ticking sound
to mimic crawfish scurrying across the rocks.
Rounding out the top-5 were Ish Monroe with 31 Scorable Bass, Thomas Kanemoto
with 29 and William Pointing with 29.
After two days of full-field competition, the top-10 anglers advance to Sunday’s
Championship round. The final field will comprise the top-5 anglers with the Most
Scorable Bass and the top-5 anglers with the highest Total Weight. Total days weight
and keeper count from days 1 and 2 are accumulated. In the final round, weights and
keeper count are zeroed.
Anglers take off from the Port of Arlington on Saturday at safe light. Weigh ins are set
for 4 p.m. PDT at the port.