BY DAN O’SULLIVAN
REDDING –As can happen in early-season bass tournament, especially those in upstate Northern California, the 156-boat field for the 2024 WON Bass Lake Shasta Open found cool temperatures, strong breezes out of the south and rain on the menu. While waterproof footwear and raingear were the outfits DuJour, those types of conditions can mean active spotted bass.
That is precisely what the field found as they began competition for the Ranger / Mercury prize boat and one of the five coveted entries into the 2025 B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship. Known as one of premier spotted bass fisheries in the West, Lake Shasta produced not only decent numbers of bites for the field, but also quality spotted bass found their way into livewells for rides to the weigh-in at Bridge Bay Marina.
To no one’s surprise, Jeff Michels, the Lakehead, Calif. pro who has earned a reputation as one of the anglers to beat on Lake Shasta, grabbed the day one lead with his AAA partner Chad Gmuca with 16.77 pounds. That was enough to overtake 2023 WON Bass U.S. Open Champion Kyle Grover from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. and his partner Jerry Frisbee, who weighed 16.58 pounds to finish day one in second place.
Third place with 16.35 pounds went to pro Alex Niapas from Altaville, Calif. and his AAA Chris Trumbull; Niapas’ limit included a 4.72-pound spotted bass that was big fishing of the day. Fourth place for the day was Earl Dalton III from Jackson, Calif., who brought 15.70 pounds to the scales with his partner James Clayton and Nick Wood, another pre-tournament favorite from Yreka, Calif. weighed 15.59 pounds with his partner Brian Fesler to round out the top five.
No stranger to leading events on Shasta, Michels said that he knew he had to make the first day count. “With the weather we’ve been having, and the lack of vegetation surrounding the lake because of the fires, I knew today would be key,” said Michels. “It’s no secret that the upper Sacramento arm is where many of us are fishing, but with this rain, that’s probably going to be blown out tomorrow, so I did as much today as I could, and it was a pretty good day.”
He reported catching as many as 25 keepers from his main stretch but doesn’t know what to expect going forward. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do tomorrow but I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to rely on my primary area, I’ll go looking for more,” he said. “I’ve put myself in good position, I’ll have a lot to do to make it last two more days, I just have to find something to back it up.”
While the leader was no surprise to anyone with knowledge of Shata’s tournament history, one angler who did not expect to be this high in the standings was Grover. The reigning U.S. Open Champion said that it was his best tournament day ever on Lake Shasta. “I’d never caught a four pounder here at Shasta, so to weigh a 4.48 spot and four more three pounders was a treat,” he said. “I had my limit by 10:30 and went looking for more water but didn’t find anything else. I have a big area and I’m mostly by myself, so I think I can still catch some good bags, we’ll just have to see what happens.”
The day one livestream of the weigh-in scheduled to air on at Facebook.com/WONBassTournaments was canceled due to the strong winds and heavy rains, but coverage is expected to resume for day two. More rain is in the forecast for the remainder of the tournament; however, the winds are expected to decrease. Daily weigh-ins from Bridge Bay Marina in Redding, Calif. begin after the first flight checks in at 3:00 PM Pacific Time.
The Top 10 in each division are below, for complete standings go to: https://wonbassevents.com/pages/won-bass-shasta-open-2024-pairings-results.
|WON Bass Lake Shasta Open 1/31 to 2/2/2024
|Pro Day 1
|Earl Dalton lll
|AAA Day 1
The 2024 WON Bass Western Opens Series of events Consisting of five events in California, Arizona and Nevada, will culminate with the 2024 WON Bass U.S. Open at Lake Mohave in October. The five event dates are as follows:
Jan. 31–Feb. 2, Lake Shasta
April 17-19, Clear Lake
May 15-17, Lake Havasu
Sept. 18-20, Lake Mead
Oct. 14-16, U.S. Open at Lake Mohave
The 2024 WON Bass Northern California Lake Shasta Open is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops, Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Triton Boats, Bridgford Foods, Phenix Rods, Yamamoto Baits, Bill Lewis Lures, Buckeye Lures, Steel Shad, SOG Knives, Cold Steel Knives, Gamma Line, Power Pole, Lowrance, Daiwa, AFTCO, Costa, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Anderson Toyota, A&M Graphics, Anglers Marine and Signature Gates.
Local presenting sponsors are Redding Tourism, Phil’s Propellers and security provided by the Redding Police Department.