Nation: Wood leads Day 1

REDDING, Calif. — The talk prior to today’s first round of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors was that five-bass limits would be easy to come by. The challenge would be catching five bass big enough to do well in the tournament. That proved to be right on target. Only three of the more than 200 anglers failed to bring in a limit today.
California team member Nick Wood of Yreka, Calif., was one of the few anglers who connected with a heavyweight bass. His 6-pound, 9-ounce, spotted bass was the biggest bass of the day, and the fish bolstered his five-bass boater limit to 13-14, making him the early leader of the three-day event.
Wood is a local angler who knows Lake Shasta well. Two weeks ago he won a tournament here with five spotted bass that weighed 20 pounds, and he has caught trophy spotted bass here in the 9-pound class.
“I’m fishing slow and targeting big bass,” Wood said. “I had four big ones miss my bait today. I’m guardedly optimistic that I can catch more big ones over the next two days.”
Lake Shasta is known for its excellent population of spotted bass. Smallmouth and largemouth bass also live in Shasta but in much smaller numbers. The vast majority of the bass brought in today were spots.
In second place is Utah team member Chase Colby of Heber City, Utah, with a five-bass limit weighing 12-11. He claims that he and his nonboater partner caught hundreds of spotted bass today.
“I’m getting away from everyone,” Colby said. “I’m also trying to do something a little different to catch the bigger fish.”
Oregon team member Jason Hooper of Salem, Ore., is in third place on the boater side of the tournament with a limit of spotted bass that weighed 11-7.
“I grew up fishing this lake, and I have confidence in a few areas,” Hooper said. “One problem is all of the logs and debris from the rising water. In some places it covers the water 40 to 50 yards out from the shoreline. I can’t cast where the fish are.”
Heavy rainfall this year has raised Shasta’s water level more than 40 feet over the past month. The rising lake level has stained the water and pulled logs and other obstructions onto the lake.
Nonboaters are paired with boaters during the tournament and they are allowed to bring three bass to the scales. Mike Powell of Midway, Utah, made the most of his opportunity with a three-bass limit that weighed 7-12. He leads the nonboater field and helped his Utah team claim the lead with a total team weight of 145-9. The winning team will be decided after the second day’s weigh-in, which takes place Thursday at Bridge Bay Marina at 2:15 p.m. PST.
A warming trend may improve the catch over the remaining days of the tournament by encouraging bass to move into shallow spawning areas. When the bass move, it invariably helps some anglers and hurts others. Those who are able to adjust to the weather and the fish movements will continue to catch the bass.
So many bass were caught today that all eleven teams are still in contention to win. Less than 6 pounds separates the Top 7 teams.

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