TROUT CREEK, Mont. — The weather will play a key role during the B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional at Noxon Reservoir, May 21-23.
“If it warms up right before the tournament, it could be a mess,” said Curtis Spindler, Montana B.A.S.S. Nation president. Heavy runoff created by a rapid snow melt could fill the lake with debris and turn the water turbid.
If there is a gradual spring warm-up and water conditions are fairly stable, prespawn smallmouth and largemouth bass will be staging at depths ranging from 4 to 20 feet. “They will move up on the flats when the sun comes out,” Spindler said.
Both species of bass will be holding in the same areas. “You never know what you are going to bring up,” Spindler said. “If you pitch to a stump, you can catch either a smallmouth or largemouth that time of the year.”
The Montana angler lists jerkbaits and crankbaits in red hues and black-and-blue jigs as the best lures to try during the divisional. Spindler tips his jig with a Sweet Beaver, but if the water is dirty, he suggests trying a trailer that generates more vibration, such as a Strike King Rage Craw.
Catching a mix of smallmouth and largemouth could be the key to winning the divisional.
“We have had plenty of tournaments won with smallmouth, but a lot of times it is a combination, especially with that early of a tournament,” Spindler said.
Forage base — yellow perch, sunfish and crawfish
Surface acreage — 7,940 acres
Average depth — 99 feet
Shoreline mileage — 50 miles
Expected water clarity — 1 to 2 feet of visibility
Dominant structure/cover — stumps, rocks, curlyleaf pondweed and milfoil
Predicted winning weight — 38 pounds, 8 ounces