LAKEPORT, Calif. — Jeremy Percifield had said all he wanted to do was not drop the ball and lose the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional on Clear Lake after a two-day lead. But as he was coming in with only two fish at check-in time, he thought he had blown it.
“Less than an hour before check-in, I lost a monster,” said Percifield, of Kennewick, Wash. “It was at least 8 pounds. When it jumped out of the water and the hook came out of its mouth, I watched it drop back into the water and swim away in super-duper slow motion.”
He thought that was the end of his lead.
But Percifield had stacked the deck on the first day with a 34-pound weight, and that put him over the edge to win the divisional, beating 131 of his peers.
Percifield finished with 67 pounds, 6 ounces, which included a 9-2 bass. His wire-to-wire win earns him a trip to the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Oct. 24-26, on Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle.
Just behind Percifield was his teammate, Don Hogue of Washington, with 62 pounds, 14 ounces. Hogue actually provided the lure that helped Percifield beat him.
“We were fishing the same area,” said Percifield, referring to a quiet spot in the Anderson Marsh, near the southern tip of Clear Lake. “He asked me if I was using any bladed swim jigs, and I said that I wasn’t because I don’t even know how to fish them. He cut the one he had off his line and handed it to me, then told me to fish it like a swimbait.”
The dark colored D&M Swim Jig caught the 9-2 that put Percifield in the winner’s seat on the final day. However, his other 58 pounds over three days came off a selection of plastics he was flipping into the tules in the same area. Percifield used a Reaction Innovations Beaver, Bass Kickin’ Baits Thug and Big Bite Baits Yo Mama, all in green pumpkin. He flipped a long section of tules where he had caught 7- and 8-pounders in practice on Tuesday and a 9-3 on Wednesday, the first competition day. The water was only 5 feet deep.
He relied on a G.Loomis GLX flipping rod, loaned to him by his friend David Brinkerhoff, who was competing on the Oregon team, after Percifield broke the tip on his own rod on Thursday. Percifield’s reel of choice was a Shimano Curado 201 E. He used 15-pound-test Yo-Zuri Hybrid line, a Gamakatsu 4/0 extra-wide gap heavy wire hook and 3/8-ounce Eco-Pro tungsten weights.
“It’s awesome to win this thing,” said Percifield after the weigh-in, trophy in hand. “I couldn’t believe I made it to the championship last year, and it’s just incredible that I’m going back again!”
Joining Percifield at the championship will be other state team leaders Brian Severson, Arizona; Ron Welch, California; Ed McCaw, Colorado; Keegan Graves, Idaho; Tim Johnston, Montana; Jesse Milicevic, Nevada; Kris Bosley, New Mexico; Michael Gibney, Oregon; Mike Powell, Utah; and Joe Cole, Wyoming.
In the overall team competition, the Oregon B.A.S.S. Nation took the honors of having the most combined weight with 458 pounds, 10 ounces, a divisional record for team weight. Behind Oregon were Arizona with 456-11 and Idaho with 455-2.
The next anglers to qualify for the national championship will come in only two weeks at the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, Tenn., April 24-26. Stay tuned to Bassmaster.com for complete coverage.