Bryant Smith Drops 20 pounds on the Scales to Lead Day 1 of FLW Costa Series Western Event
September 28, 2017 by David A. Brown
With all the head nodding and shaking from anglers in disbelief of the bite, you’d think Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina was hosting a bobble head convention. But despite Clear Lake’s supremely challenging conditions, Bryant Smith of Castro Valley, Calif., caught a limit of 20 pounds, 15 ounces and took the early lead at the final Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Evinrude.
Indeed, the weigh-in saw plenty of long faces; but despite the limitations of widespread aquatic weed eradication, funky water clarity and a recent fish kill, this western rock star still holds good numbers of bass and a high percentage of quality fish. For Smith, the key was a blend of presentation patience and area ambition.
“I fished slow; as fast as I could,” Smith says. “I made as many casts as I could, but I was still fishing a slow bait. I was covering water and hoping I drop one on a fish’s head.”
Noting a day-long bout with inconsistency, Smith says he caught his fish in a variety of depths and habitat features.
“I’d catch one out of 2 feet, I’d catch one out of 10 feet, I’d catch one out of 12,” he says.
Smith didn’t divulge specifics on his bait selection, but he did note that it was, essentially, a finesse technique. Much of his fishing took place around shallow cover, so he fished with 15-pound fluorocarbon.
“When I get bites around the docks, I need to get them out,” Smith says of his beefed-up finesse technique. “I’ve never fished like that. I’ve fished here a lot, but I’ve never fished the way I had to fish today. It’s really tough for me, but I know the quality is there.”
Smith points to efficiency as a key element of his performance. The fish showed little aggression today and even those that fed were not chasing baits.
“You had to make so many casts and the bait literally has to drop on their head,” Smith says.
Running the entire lake today, Smith says he did his best to hit as many of his familiar spots as possible.
“I was just hitting the key areas that I know hold fish and making as many casts as possible,” Smith says. “I kinda just went down the bank. I have a lot of history on this lake and I know where they should be this time of year; I just had to slow down to catch them.”
In terms of when he caught his fish, Smith says he saw periods of quality and periods of quantity.
“In the morning, I got all my better bites,” he says. “I got more bites in the afternoon, but my quality was better in the morning. I’d been catching a couple of good ones in the afternoon. That’s when I went by them and that’s when they ate.”
Top 10 pros:
1. Bryant Smith – Castro Valley, Calif. – 20-15 (5)
2. Clayton Eslick – Gilroy, Calif. – 19-12 (5)
3. Kyle Grover – Trabuco Canyon, Calif. – 19-1 (5)
4. Richard Dobyns – Marysvillle, Calif. – 18-1 (5)
5. Jimmy Reese – Witter Springs, Calif. – 16-7 (5)
6. Carl Limbrick Jr. – Bonita, Calif. – 15-12 (5)
6. Rusty Salewske – Alpine, Calif. – 15-12 (5)
8. Billy Hines – Vacaville, Calif. – 15-11 (5)
9. Greg Huey – McMinnville, Ore. – 14-15 (5)
9. Brett Leber – Dixon, Calif. – 14-15 (5)
Prepared Farage tops co-anglers
He practiced north, he practiced south and the diverse range of scenarios and presentations with which Jack Farage of Discovery Bay, Calif., became familiar proved indispensable in his taking the co-angler lead with a limit of 18-9.
“I only had one day of practice, so I fished both ends (of Clear Lake) from daylight ’til dark,” he says. “It took me so long to figure out how to catch them on the north end and it took me so long to figure out how to catch them on the south end. But once I did, I could catch them pretty good.”
Noting that his north and south end tactics varied significantly, Farage says he mixed up his presentations with drop-shots, squarebill crankbaits and vibrating jigs.
“I could get bit in the tules with a ChatterBait,” Farage says. “On the rocks, it was the squarebill and when we stopped moving, I’d pull out the drop-shot and a jig.”
Positioning, Farage says, is critical right now. While he observed a lot of anglers fishing close to the tules, he found his better bites away from the cover in deeper adjacent water.