A day on the lake with Woo Daves

BASSMASTER's "Day On The Lake With A Pro" series answers the question every weekend angler has asked: "How would a top B.A.S.S. pro fish my home lake?" Over the past three years, we've put some of the biggest names in bass fishing to the test on several "mystery" lakes, small bodies of water they've never seen before. We've given them seven hours to put together a working bass pattern while logging their every move in time-line fashion. Judging from reader response, B.A.S.S. members not only find this series entertaining, but highly useful in helping them figure out seasonal bass patterns on their home waters. This month, 2000 BASS Masters Classic winner Woodford (Woo) Daves steps up to the plate. The colorful Burrowsville, Va., pro is a veteran of the cast-for-cash circuit. His engaging sense of humor makes him a perennial crowd favorite at B.A.S.S. events.But don't let his down-home manner fool you — Daves knows the seasonal movements of bass inside and out; he's a master at analyzing fishing conditions and arriving at a winning pattern. Here's what happened on May 18, 2001, when we turned the Classic champ loose on Lake Y, a 700-acre Tennessee reservoir. » 6:10 a.m. I hook up with Daves at his motel and lead him to the boat ramp at Lake Y. It's a beautiful 70 degree May morning with clear skies.» 6:25 a.m. Daves launches his boat, a Nitro 929CDX that he borrowed from a friend while his new Nitro is being rigged. It's equipped with a 225 Mercury OptiMax outboard and MotorGuide trolling motor. "The first thing I'm going to do is ride from one end of the lake to the other to get a feel for the water and spot any potential areas I want to fish," he says. "On a strange lake, looking is as important as fishing. This time of year, most of the bass have probably vacated their spawning areas, so I may target boat docks, laydown trees and other shallow cover. I feel the bass will be in 10 feet of water or less. I may throw some topwaters early."

 I ask Daves how winning the 2000 Classic in Chicago has affected his career: "It's made it so I can't fish anymore!" he says with a laugh. "What with working with sponsors and making personal appearances, I've only fished five days since I won the tournament five months ago. Moral of the story: If you want to go bass fishin', don't win the Classic!"

 » 6:35 a.m. Daves takes his time rigging up his rods for the day's fishing. "I learned a long time ago not to get rattled under pressure," he says. "Normally, I'd be a lot better prepared, but this is the real world — I've only been home six days since Jan. 2, and my tackle's a mess. I've logged 250,000 air miles so far this year." Daves uses Bass Pro Shops Extreme Series rods and reels of his own design. » 6:45 a.m. "OK, so I lied!" Daves quips as he drops the trolling motor in a cove near the ramp instead of cruising the lake. He starts chunking a Viva Bug Eye popper at shoreline wood cover. Twenty yards away, a bass breaks the surface.» 6:48 a.m. Woo switches to a bubblegum Zoom floating worm, skipping it around laydowns with a spinning outfit.» 6:50 a.m. He picks up a 6 1/2-foot baitcasting rod rigged with a 6-inch Smithwick Floating Rogue in a shad pattern and works the minnow imitator past the ends of submerged tree branches. "Just want to see if any fish are suspended off this wood," he says. None appear to be.

 » 6:55 a.m. Daves turns on his bow-mounted graph for a water temp reading and senses equipment trouble. "Hmm, it says 58.9 degrees, but that's way off," he mutters. "This water's more like 75 degrees."

  7 a.m. Woo makes a quick run down the lake and stops at a shallow point near the east side of the dam. He jerks the Rogue around the structure.7:04 a.m. Daves tries the Viva popper on the point. "The water's a lot clearer down here than where we launched," he observes. "Looks good for Carolina rigging." 7:06 a.m. After trying in vain to coax a depth reading from the front graph on the borrowed boat, Woo announces, "I can't get the dang thing to work. Either it's busted or my buddy's got it wired up some strange way." Not having a working front depthfinder to refer to in a high-pressure situation like this would rattle most bassers, but Daves remains nonplussed, remarking, "I'll just have to do the best I can." 7:08 a.m. Daves works the east corner of the dam with the popper but can't raise a fish.  7:11 a.m. He pauses to dig into a storage locker for a green pumpkin Zoom floating worm and rigs it on a Mustad Ultra Point 2/0 hook. "Changing hook sizes will greatly alter the action and rate of fall of a floating worm," he notes. "The bite appears slow, so I'm gonna rig the worm with a light hook so it'll sink very slowly. Maybe that'll draw a response." He skips and twitches the worm halfway down the dam, without a strike. 7:15 a.m. Back to the Rogue, again with no success.» 7:18 a.m. Daves comes to a spillway and casts around the structure with a 6-inch green pumpkin Zoom U-Tail worm with a 1/8-ounce sinker.» 7:24 a.m. He tries the U-Tail around shallow riprap lining the dam.» 7:30 a.m. Having reached the end of the dam, Daves pauses to assemble a Carolina rig. His main line is 12-pound regular Stren; his leader, 10-pound green Stren Super Tough. He uses a 1/2-ounce Lindy No-Snagg rattling weight. "This weight was designed by walleye fishermen — every once in a while they come up with something good!" he jokes. I ask him about his leader, which is 3 1/2 feet long. "In post-spawn, I like a real long leader, up to 4 feet. Combined with a light wire hook, this will elevate the lure for a more lifelike presentation." He rigs a 4-inch green pumpkin Zoom Centipede on a 1/0 Mustad worm hook. "Looks good enough to eat," he quips.» 7:37 a.m. Daves starts casting the Carolina-rigged Centipede on a point near the west side of the dam, retrieving it in short pulls. I inform him that the console graph indicates 24 feet of water beneath the boat. "If you aren't sure what depth the fish are using, a point is a logical place to fish," he notes. "Bass use points as rest stops as they transition from their spawning areas to the main lake."» 7:45 a.m. Woo has worked all the way around the point into a tributary arm. He cranks the Merc and idles straight across the creek to another long point on the opposite shore, then switches to a 6-inch watermelon Zoom lizard on the Carolina rig.» 7:51 a.m. Daves replaces the lizard with a 7-inch green pumpkin floating worm, explaining, "I want to try something bigger for a few casts."» 7:55 a.m. The Nitro is sitting in the channel in 28 feet of water, and Daves is casting into 4 feet. "Man, that bottom feels good!" he exclaims as he c-r-a-w-l-s the sinker along. He fishes the entire point, then circles back around for another try. No takers.» 8:07 a.m. Still on the long point, Daves tries a 1 1/2-ounce Ledgebuster spinnerbait, chartreuse and white with a No. 6 single willow blade. "This bait helped get me to the Classic," he says. "I had a 24-pound bag of smallmouths on it at Pickwick Lake (Ala.), which clinched the points title for me in the Eastern Division. I've caught a lot of huge bass on it, including smallmouths close to 8 pounds." He chunks the magnum spinnerbait on a 7-foot medium heavy baitcasting rod with 17-pound mono, slow rolling it down the point. Again, no takers.» 8:10 a.m. Daves runs a short distance up the lake to fish another point. He works the structure with the Ledgebuster as clouds roll in from the west.» 8:17 a.m. Woo ties on a chartreuse Bass Pro Shops buzzbait and slips into a shallow cove. He works it around submerged logs, commenting, "I'd hit that if I were a bass!" But he isn't, and they don't.» 8:20 a.m. He tries a bright yellow Zoom floating worm around shallow wood cover in the cove. 8:29 a.m. Daves puts his trolling motor on high, moves to a nearby main lake point and gives the structure a thorough workout with the watermelon lizard. "There are some stumps as big as Volkswagens down there!" he comments.» 8:36 a.m. The sun pops back out and the wind starts blowing 10 mph out of the south. Daves drags the lizard across the point from 4 to 14 feet deep, then tries the Ledgebuster. "This point has a little curl on the end into deep water, and I want to fan-cast that spot from several directions," he says. "I'm trying several lures that cover different depth zones to determine exactly where the fish are holding."» 8:41 a.m. Back to the Carolina-rigged lizard. We're sitting in 12 feet of water off another of a series of points on the lower end of the lake.» 8:50 a.m. Daves ties on a white/blue Zara Spook, "just in case it clouds up again," then idles to a little pocket on the lake's western shore, where he drags the Zoom lizard.» 9 a.m. With the boat in 20 feet of water, Daves Carolina rigs a point at the mouth of a tributary near the dam.» 9:04 a.m. Daves moves deeper into the tributary and works a Texas-rigged pumpkin/chartreuse Zoom lizard around a tree jutting from the bank. "They're probably biting real good now on the upper end of the lake," he says with a laugh.» 9:15 a.m. Woo moves to the middle of a deep cut in the tributary and fishes a short clay point with the Carolina-rigged lizard. The wind is now blowing from the west. "What's the saying? 'Wind from the west, fishing's best.' That's a lie!" he says sarcastically.» 9:20 a.m. Daves tries a Texas-rigged Zoom finesse worm, red shad color, on the point. "Some good stumps down there. The bass should be following these secondary points out to open water. Normally, during the first couple of weeks after they come off the bed, there's no big concentrations of bass, just one here and one there. I'm gonna hit as many of these little tributary points as I can and try to pick up my limit."» 9:24 a.m. Daves works a big laydown tree with the finesse worm.» 9:30 a.m. Working farther back into the creek, Daves hits a secondary point with a Carolina-rigged Zoom Centipede. "There he is!" he announces as he sets the hook with a side sweep of the rod. The largemouth weighs 1 pound, 14 ounces. Woo rigs a fresh green pumpkin Centipede, this time dipping the tail in chartreuse Spike-It dye for added visibility. "That fish was in a very logical post-spawn place — staging 9 feet deep on a little secondary point up in the creek arm, waiting for the water to warm a tad before heading out to the main lake."» 9:44 a.m. Progressing up the creek to the next secondary point, Daves connects with his second keeper on the Centipede. This bass weighs 1 pound, 5 ounces. "It was in 6 feet of water, and there was another bass about the same size swimming with it when I was fighting it. Maybe I'm on to something."» 10:05 a.m. Daves is now moving rapidly from one secondary point to the next, working the Carolina-rigged Centipede from 4 to 12 feet deep. Once he gets halfway up the tributary, he idles straight across to a shelterd pocket on the opposite shore. The wind has picked up to 15 mph.» 10:12 a.m. Woo tags his third keeper on the Centipede, again off a secondary point. "Every bite has been superlight," he comments as he weighs the bass: 2 pounds, 12 ounces. "I angled that cast across the point; the fish hit in 8 feet of water."

» 10:20 a.m. Daves switches gears and maneuvers into a shallow pocket filled with brush and logs. "This is a prime-looking place for a big fish. I had given up on skinny water earlier, but the wind's blowing hard now, and this could move some fish shallower." He works the yellow floating worm and the red shad finesse worm around the cover, without success. 10:24 a.m. Working to the mouth of the brushy cove, Daves sees a bass break on the surface and flings the Zara Spook at the boil. No takers, so he reverts to the Centipede. 10:30 a.m. Woo downs a ham sandwich while dragging the centipede around another secondary point.» 10:50 a.m. Daves returns to the little point where he caught his last keeper, pulls the Centipede across the bottom, but fails to score another fish.» 10:55 a.m. He pitches the finesse worm around a nearby boat dock. 11 a.m. Back to the secondary point pattern. Daves swings at a bass and misses, muttering, "Man, you really have to feed it to 'em today."» 11:07 a.m. We're at the primary point leading into the tributary. Woo works the 10-foot contour with the Centipede.» 11:12 a.m. Daves runs back to the bank stretch where he caught his first two keepers. "I feel there aren't many fish on each spot, but I'm gonna check these two little points again since they're so close together.» 11:22 a.m. Woo is fishing very slowly now, still targeting secondary points. It's clouded up again, and the wind is gusting to 20 mph.» 11:40 a.m. Daves runs to the opposite shoreline, this time pressing deeper into the creek arm. He Carolina-rigs another series of short points with the Centipede. No takers.

» 12:02 p.m. He motors back to the point where he caught his third bass and Carolina-rigs the structure again. No luck this time.» 12:17 p.m. Woo runs to the eastern shore of the lake. Whitecaps slap the hull of the Nitro.

» 12:20 p.m. We're in a narrow cut off the main lake, sitting in 20 feet of water. Daves throws the Carolina-rigged Centipede into 4 feet of water off a short point.» 12:22 p.m. On the next secondary point, Woo swings at a fish and misses. The Carolina rig comes back with a broken leader. "That felt like a good fish," he says as he re-rigs.» 12:30 p.m. Still probing the point, Daves hangs the Centipede in a deep brushpile, breaks off and reties.

 12:37 p.m. Feeling some resistance, Woo side-sweeps the rod and connects with his fourth keeper. He races to the rear deck to land it. The 3-pound, 10-ounce bass has a piece of monofilament sticking out of its mouth. "Check this out — this is the same fish that broke me off a few minutes ago!" he exclaims. "You won't see that happen very often!" The pro says that, after breaking off he downsized from a 2/0 to a 1/0 hook to float the lure a little higher. "The lighter the bite, the slower you want your lure to fall." 12:45 p.m. The air temp is approaching 90 degrees. Still Carolina-rigging a series of short points in the cut, Daves hangs up in a bush. He breaks off and ties on another Centipede, again dipping the tail in chartreuse Spike-It. "All my soft plastics are presoaked in Jack's Juice crawfish fish attractor," he says. "It really makes a difference when the bite is light."» 12:53 p.m. With around 30 minutes remaining, Daves runs up the lake and stops on a sand and gravel point. He drags the Carolina rig from 4 to 14 feet, without a bite.» 1:01 p.m. Daves runs straight across the lake to a long, flat point. No bites here. 1:08 p.m. Woo stomps the MotorGuide and zips to another nearby point. Again, no bites» 1:12 p.m. Daves runs a little farther uplake to a boathouse and fishes the Zoom finesse worm around it, keying on the corners. He skips the worm under the structure's closed doors, saying, "Let's see if anybody's home." Evidently, nobody is.» 1:22 p.m. Woo pulls the Carolina-rigged Centipede from the boathouse to his boat, but hauls water.» 1:25 p.m. Back to the ramp. Daves ends the day with four bass totaling 9 pounds, 9 ounces.The day in perspectiveIn spite of a light bite and an inoperable front graph, Daves managed to pull a nice bag of post-spawn bass from Lake Y.The turning point today came about 9:45 a.m., when the wind kicked in," Daves explained. "That seemed to get a few fish biting on secondary points. Dipping the tail of the Centipede in chartreuse dye also helped, as did going to a smaller hook. The bite is often superlight in post-spawn, and you've got to pay attention to these seemingly small details if you want to coax a few fish into the boat."I'm sure I could have caught my limit today if I'd stayed on those secondary points by the dam, but as the day went on, I wanted to hit some of the spots I saw when I first ran down the lake. I feel the fish here are transitioning out into the main lake via the points."The Carolina rig is an efficient way to cover these structures. The fish definitely weren't bunched up, which is typical of post-spawn. Here's a lesson for you Bassmasters: Once you get a bite in post-spawn, don't park on the spot for hours thinkin' you're gonna load the boat — you'll die there. After you determine a pattern — today, secondary points were the key — hop around to similar spots and revisit places where you caught fish after letting them rest awhile."And above all, be realistic. Don't have fantasies of catching that 10-pounder in post-spawn. Big fish are usually suspending offshore, and they are awfully tough to come by now."






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