Wednesday on the Water with Travis Huckaby

Bass Angler Magazine spends a few days on the water every week bringing you what we’ve learned, so we can help you put a few more fish in the boat.

It’s Wednesday, August 6th 2014 and we’re headed to Lake Don Pedro in the California Mother Lode. There’s a light breeze. It is mostly sunny with a high of 85, the moon is four days from full and the lake is down over 100 feet, but still enough water for fishing or water sports.

Today, we are heading out with Navionics pro Travis Huckaby who knows Lake Don Pedro well and has won multiple tournaments on this lake.

Launching at the main ramp, we first headed to a popular weekend spot that is normally too crowded to fish, but since it’s Wednesday, the weekenders are not around. Pulling into the cove we started out with a R2SRover and a DUO Pencil top water bait. We saw a few fish busting, but fail to get a bite.

After working the cover for 20 minutes we went out, searching again.

During the summer, bass will key on bait and are most active early or in low lights. With that in mind, we will cover as many places as possible until the sun comes up pushing the bait lower in the water column.

Heading towards the river, we stopped on a main lake submerged island again tossing top water, but mixing in some wake baits and deep cranks, in case the fish wanted something a little different. No bites!

Every day of bass fishing is a challenge. Like a puzzle – the more pieces you put in place, the better it looks. Fishing is an experiment, until you find where the fishes are and what the fishes want.

The next spot that we hit was a big culver with water spilling out over the top. It appeared to be a likely spot any time of year. Again, we tried top water and big cranks, but yielded nothing. This spot looked so good we figure there had to be fish here. I switched up to a small four-inch swim bait and on the first cast I got a 3 lb bass in 15 ft of water. Bingo! Thinking we had found the key, I tossed the little swim bait all through there and no one else wanted to play. Travis stuck to the big stuff and I switched up to a Hopkins spoon, hopping it down a ledge to about 20 ft. WHAM, I hooked up! I got it in and it was a 2 lb cat fish. Not what we were looking for, but fun none the less.

We fished around there a little more and headed to the other side of the lake where the culver comes back out. I was back on the swimbait and spoon again, Travis with the big baits – nothing.

Travis opted to head up river, hoping to find a little current and some active fish. Since we are in a major drought, the lakes are not releasing water as normal, which slows the current and the fishes activity.

Getting into the river, Travis stopped on a bluff wall, where the water drops to 50 ft within 20 yards of the bank. Travis is again working his confidence baits, still without a bite. I looked at the wall and began thinking about a day I spend with Russ Meyer last month on Shasta and decided to bounce the spoon down the wall. First cast with the spoon in about 20 ft, I hooked up and landed a 2 lb bass. Okay! Here we go, right? Nope, that was it. We went down the bank about another 100 yards, without another bite and we were on the search again.

If you noticed every spot we hit was different. If we starting catching more bass, Travis would have keyed in and fished similar places.

Heading up river, we hit an island with deep water. Travis is still on the big baits but switched to a Neko rig (wacky worm on a drop shot hook with a nail weight in the end), after I got a few small bass on the little swimbait. Travis landed three bass on the island and I ended up with two.

Since we caught multiple fish on the island, we went up and hit similar spots and got a few fish on that one too. Unfortunately, there were only a few similar places, so we left the islands, to try around the bridge.

The Bridge at Lake Don Pedro

We started at the bridge pilings, the few that are left in the water. Travis told me how he caught an 11 lb'r in a tournament on a bridge piling, securing a win in a past event. He tossed out a R2S S-Waver, past the bridge piling on the shady side and worked the bait across it.

WHAM, he lands a 2 ½ pounder. After 15 more casts with the S-Waver, we see a monster bass (looked like it was over 12 lbs) follow it up and then just stay there. Travis made a few more casts and switched to the Neko rig, tossing it to the piling. He got another decent size bass. Working around the piling, Travis got about three more bass on the Neko rig.

We then hopped up the river, trying a few spots with deep water, until we got to the next bridge. Travis got one bass on the next bridge, but that was it.

On the move again we went up the river to shallower water. Once there, we see bait everywhere. Travis went back to the big baits, running them right through the baitfish, thinking there must be bass here with all this bait, but nothing. I tried the little swimbait, the spoon, a jerk bait, then a Senko, but still nothing.

Travis then tied on a R2S Bling Cht/Wht spinnerbait and headed to the bank where there was flooded timber. After five casts, he landed a decent 2 ½ lb bass, heading down the bank he landed four more. Wanting to get in on the action, I tied on a spinnerbait and started catching fishes too.

The flooded timber at Lake Don Pedro

Every fish was on wood and you had to cast to the tree and let the bait fall as close as possible. This is where good casting skills came in handy, because if you couldn’t get it in the spot you wouldn’t get bit.

After fishing both sides of the bank, covering every tree, we headed to the other river to see if we could duplicate the discovered pattern.

Arriving at the next river, we found a really cool, old mill that is usually submerged under a 100 feet of water. This spot didn’t have the bait like the first one, but there was some and we figured maybe the bait is a little deeper, since the water was a little deeper here.

Travis went back on his spinner bait and got another 2 ½ lb'r. I was tossing the R2S S-Waver, which I had been doing off and on, throughout the day, looking for a big bite – WHAM. a giant bass hits the S-Waver, but fails to hook up. I made a few more casts, but ended up back on the spinnerbait. We meandered through the trees for about an hour, catching about eight to 10 more bass and then it was time to head back.

Throughout the day Travis hit about 20 different type of areas, until we honed in on a pattern – spinnerbait in the trees, near the end of the river. Though he knows the lake well, he didn’t let history dictate his success or failure. He fished for the day, letting the conditions and the fishes command the next move.

Travis Huckaby fishing on Lake Don Pedro

All in all, a good day. No giants in the boat, but about 25 good quality fish. Also most every fish we caught were largemouth. We could have targeted spots and smallies, but most likely would have had to go deep.

I hope this BAM WOW (Bass Angler Magazine – Wednesday on the Water) story will help you land a few more bass on your next outing.

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