Elite Series Pros Ready to Keep on Rolling to Havasu
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The 112 anglers taking part in this week’s Sacramento Bassmaster Elite at Sacramento River won’t get much time to recuperate before the next Elite Series event.
As soon as things are done in California, they’ll make the nine-hour drive to Lake Havasu City, Ariz., for next week’s Bassmaster Elite at Lake Havasu presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels.
Two tournaments in 11 days is a rigorous schedule, but many anglers actually prefer it that way.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I would rather do back-to-backers,” said Dean Rojas, an Arizona native who has a home on Lake Havasu. “When you’re in the fishing groove, it’s really all you want to do. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I know how to pace myself, how to take care of my body. This is the way I like it.”
The tournament is scheduled for May 7-10 with daily takeoffs at 6:15 a.m. MT from Arizona State Park in Lake Havasu City and weigh-ins back at the park each day at 3:15 p.m. MT.
Despite the quick turnaround, anglers expect excellent fishing with most of Havasu’s bass population in postspawn mode. The 19,300-acre impoundment, which forms a portion of the border between California and Arizona, should produce plenty of largemouth and smallmouth bass for the Elite pros.
“There may still be a few fish spawning, but the majority of the fish are going to be spawned out,” said Elite Series pro Brett Hite, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz. “It’s going to be mostly a postspawn tournament with maybe a few fry guarders.”
Though many think of Havasu as a deep-water finesse lake, Hite said that’s not necessarily the case.
“The lake actually fishes relatively shallow,” Hite said. “It’s one lake on the Colorado River where they actually hold water. It fluctuates only 5 feet or so — unlike Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which fluctuate maybe 100 or 150 feet.
“Havasu is consistent, and they’ve done a great job with their habitat program. That makes it fish a lot shallower.”
The Lake Havasu Fisheries Improvement Program, which began in 1992, has helped build artificial reefs in 42 places around the lake.
“You can cut down a tree at your house and take it to this facility, and they’ll bundle it up for you,” Hite said. “They gather them up in big piles and then dump them in the lake. It’s made a big difference.”
Anglers won’t have as much time to scout prime areas on Lake Havasu as they’re used to having for a normal Elite Series event.
A new rule instated for this year will shorten the official practice period to just Tuesday and Wednesday instead of the usual Monday through Wednesday. Monday is scheduled as an off day to make travel easier for anglers who qualify for the Top 12 cut on Sunday in Sacramento.
In the past, those anglers would have been forced to fish all day Sunday and then drive late into the night to reach the next venue in time for practice Monday.
“We’re going be worn out from this event,” said Cliff Pirch, an Arizona native who had his first career Top 10 finish with B.A.S.S. in a Western Open on Lake Havasu in 2003. “So, when you drive nine hours and get ready to start again, it’s nice to have a day in between.”
Of course, there could also be drawbacks to the new rule.
“Guys from other parts of the country who haven’t spent as much time on the lake as I have would like to have that day,” Pirch said. “I deal with it all the time when I head out East where everybody’s grown up fishing. When I’m there, I certainly want that extra day. So, I know where they’re coming from.”
Despite the shortened practice period, Pirch expects a great tournament.
“There’s all kinds of stuff over there,” Pirch said. “There are so many different types of fishing. You’ve got river fish, lake fish, backwater fish — a little bit of everything. [You’ve] really got kind of whatever you want to go do over there.
“There will be a lot of fish caught.”