t first happened
Yamamoto Shad Shaped
at an ABA team
tournament on the Columbia River out of Boardman, Ore.
Wildland fires had blanketed the river in smoke so thick
the only way to navigate was by our Lowrance HDS
mapping unit. With a decent limit of 3-lb smallmouth
bass already in the livewell, we really needed a kicker to
step up our chances to win.
Mike Matkowski of Richland, Wash. was at the bow
of the boat and was fishing a Yamamoto Hula Grub on a
football head jig, and I was offering a different look with a
dropshot rig using a Yamamoto Shad Shaped Worm.
Our boat was sitting in 12-feet of water off the side
of a shallow rockpile that topped off at five-feet and had
patchy weeds where the smallmouth bass were feeding
on crawfish and young-of-year shad. -Although
the air had severely limited visibility, the water was
Just as I was reeling in to make another cast,
Mike shouted, “Did you SEE THAT?”
“A big largemouth chased my Hula Grub when
I was reeling it back to the boat!”Excitedly, I asked
him to point where he last saw it.
I made a quick pitch with a Blue Pearl Shad
Shaped Worm and my 1/4-ounce QuickDrop
dropshot sinker took my bait straight to the
bottom where Mike pointed. As fast as it touched
down my line started racing off to the side.
Doing my best to bend my spinning rod like a
pole vault, I sunk the #4 Gamakatsu dropshot hook
into the upper jaw of a pig.
Mama Pesce rocketed out of the water
shaking her head side to side spraying my
sunglasses with water. Mike could have plucked it
out of the air if he had the net in his hands instead
of his rod.
With six-pound-test, I kept the line tight to
keep the hook from shaking loose, but light enough
not to break. We chased that bass around the
boat twice and as we could see her getting close, I
begged for her to stay on the hook.
Mike had the net ready, but she made another
dive forcing me to back reel to prevent the hook from
pulling out. Finally, she tired, and we slipped her into the
At 5.5 pounds, it was a nice cull, and although we
ended in second place, we did take home Big Bass of the
tournament and an experience and story I could never
Experiences like this are a gift, and it taught me a few
lessons that have served me well ever since. First, never
give up on a fish that shows itself.
When a bass chases it is hot and will
likely bite, so get a bait in
front of it before it calms down.
In my experience a subtle lure that is not intimidating seals the deal quickly. Nothing screams “Eat Me” better than a dropshot rig with a realistic minnow imitation like the Shad Shaped Worm by Yamamoto. Nose-hooked on a #4 Gamakatsu dropshot hook with light line and a
one-quarter ounce QuickDrop
teardrop weight and you
don’t have to worry about
scaring off the smartest
At another post-spawn tournament on Potholes Reservoir, Mike had a blowup on his Spro frog overtop of a submerged bed of milfoil, but the largemouth never took his frog down. This repeated several times until the bass lost interest.
At that point I grabbed a rod with a soft jerkbait on it to be ready as a follow-up bait the next time, he had a blowup and miss. I like to use a Yamamoto D-Shad Tex-posed on a 4/0 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Hybrid Worm hook. Because it is heavy with salt and soft, it casts long
distances without weight, yet sinks slowly and
moves like a minnow fleeing for its life.
Not 10 minutes later, Mike had another
blowup and miss, but this time he quickly reeled in
instead of continuing to work his frog. Just as fast I
Background by Aaron Kittredge