By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


Just because Lake Havasu often has nothing but gin-clear water doesn't mean the bass that reside there can't handle a little color in their environment now and then. Billy Skinner proved that resoundingly at last week's Western Rayovac on the desert impoundment that sits on the border between California and Arizona.

The 27-year-old has resided in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. for the past 4 years and gets on the water an average of three or four times a week year-round. He never ventured more than about a mile and a half from the launch ramp en route to notching the biggest victory of his career.

It was a blowout, too, as he exceeded the 20-pound mark on each of the first 2 days and ended up with a 3-day total of 59-05. That was exactly 12 pounds more than runner-up Jason Borofka.

Here's a rundown of how he went about it.

Practice

Skinner was pretty sure of three things in the days leading up to the event: 1) lots of quality fish were using the dirty-water areas; 2) those fish would bite; and 3) the majority of the field would stay away from them entirely.

"This lake is known for clear water, but it's still a little muddy in the places where the washes flooded from a big storm awhile back," he said. "I just went and chased that – I looked for any major spawning cove that still had dirty water, and I targeted all natural wood with a (bladed jig).

"I think a lot of people came here with preconceived ideas that they had to be fishing in clear water. A lot of people think that the Havasu bass don't like dirty water and they won't use it, but they actually don't mind it at all. I just had to change up (his presentation) a bit and get some vibration going."

He settled on a handful of places that he knew were holding fish, all of them located just off the main basin near the mouth of the Colorado River.

"I had one cove that was my mainstay. It was where I started each day, and my goal was to have five (in the livewell) before I went to any of the other areas."

The weather during tournament week was considerably different than it'd been just prior to that.

"The week before that it was beautiful – nice and warm, and people were seeing bed-fish. The water temperature had gotten up to 55 degrees, but come tournament time, it was back down to 51 to 53."

And as the water cooled, the wind increased. Each competition day saw gusts that exceeded 20 mph.

Competition

> Day 1: 5, 21-02
> Day 2: 5, 20-04
> Day 3: 5, 17-15
> Total = 15, 59-05

Day 1 got off to a grand start for Skinner as his first bite was from a fish that weighed just slightly less than 7 pounds. He had a limit about 10 minutes later.

"It was pretty fast and furious," he said. "That relieved a little bit of the pressure."

He culled a couple of times during the remainder of the day. When the weigh-in was over, he had a lead of about half a pound over the 152-angler field.

His starting spot was productive again on day 2, but his co-angler cashed in first. The back-seater boated more than 21 pounds in the initial half-hour while all Skinner could manage were two small keepers and a catfish.

"It was just one of those things – he went in there throwing an under-spin and he just couldn't make a bad cast."

The quality bites soon started coming Skinner's way, though, and he boxed his 20 pounds in fairly short order. That sack was topped by a 6-12 brute.

"Catching 42 pounds out of there, that definitely hurt it for the third day," he said.

He fished that place until 1:30 on the final day, but all it gave him were a pair of 13-inchers. He picked up a 5-pounder at his first stop after finally making a move, and then another 5-plus and two more solid specimens at subsequent places.

Having started the day with a 4-pound advantage, he was confident about his chances of closing out the victory.

"It was a solid sack," he said. "I wasn't positive I'd won, but in any case, I felt good about it. At least I'd made something happen at the end of the day and pulled in a good bag."

Winning Gear Notes

> Bladed jig gear: 7'3" heavy-action Skinner rod, Shimano Chronarch casting reel (7:1 ratio), 15-pound unnamed fluorocarbon line, Phenix Vibrator Jig (white with green shad skirt), Zoom Fluke trailer (white).

> "A guy out of Yuma (Ariz.) makes the custom hand-tied skirts I use," he said. "They're huge and they're the right color. That bulkier skirt was important in the dirty water."

> He said he rarely uses a bladed jig at this time of year. "I'm usually throwing a crankbait, a (Rat-L-Trap), a jerkbait or a spinnerbait. But with those fish moving into that dirty water, it was a natural thing to pick up (the Vibrator)."

> He fished the last half of the final day with no trolling motor, having run it dry battling the stout winds. "I ended up running my last few spots and just drifting with the wind."

> The only weigh-in fish that didn't fall for the bladed jig was a hefty smallmouth he caught on day 2 on a Picasso football jig.

The Bottom Line

> Main factor in his success – "Fishing the dirty water when most other people didn't. There were a lot of fish moving in there."

> Performance edge – "My Skeeter boat. We had the nastiest weather we could've gotten and it ran flawless. Also, it was really important to match the bait with the perfect-action rod because the fish were eating it weird."

Much of the tackle referenced above is available at the BassFan Store. To browse the selection, click here..

Final Standings

1. Billy Skinner -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 21-02 (5) -- 20-04 (5) -- 41-06 (10) -- 17-15 (5) -- 59-05 (15) -- $40,000

2. Jason Borofka -- Salinas, Ca -- 16-15 (5) -- 20-07 (5) -- 37-06 (10) -- 9-15 (3) -- 47-05 (13) -- $15,500

3. John Fuqua -- Oxnard, Ca -- 16-14 (5) -- 16-10 (5) -- 33-08 (10) -- 13-00 (5) -- 46-08 (15) -- $12,000

4. Shaun Bailey -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 17-01 (5) -- 16-00 (5) -- 33-01 (10) -- 13-04 (4) -- 46-05 (14) -- $10,000

5. Ed Arledge -- Valley Center, Ca -- 19-07 (5) -- 16-09 (5) -- 36-00 (10) -- 6-15 (2) -- 42-15 (12) -- $9,000

6. Kevin Hugo -- Chino, Ca -- 17-01 (5) -- 17-13 (5) -- 34-14 (10) -- 3-11 (2) -- 38-09 (12) -- $8,000

7. Gary Pinholster -- Lake Havasu, Az -- 20-04 (5) -- 14-15 (5) -- 35-03 (10) -- 3-01 (1) -- 38-04 (11) -- $7,000

8. Jimmy Reese -- Witter Springs, Ca -- 15-09 (5) -- 15-14 (5) -- 31-07 (10) -- 6-03 (2) -- 37-10 (12) -- $6,000

9. David Kromm -- Kennewick, Wa -- 11-04 (4) -- 19-07 (5) -- 30-11 (9) -- 0-00 (0) -- 30-11 (9) -- $5,000

10. Chad Martin -- Nicolaus, Ca -- 15-01 (5) -- 15-06 (5) -- 30-07 (10) -- 0-00 (0) -- 30-07 (10) -- $4,000

The following anglers did not make the cut and did not fish on day 3.

11. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 17-06 (5) -- 12-12 (5) -- 30-02 (10) -- $3,750

12. Clint Goodwin -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 18-09 (5) -- 10-13 (4) -- 29-06 (9) -- $3,500

13. Roy Hawk -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 10-07 (3) -- 18-14 (5) -- 29-05 (8) -- $3,000

14. J J Gibbs -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 17-02 (5) -- 11-10 (5) -- 28-12 (10) -- $3,000

15. Jason Milligan -- Shasta Lake, Ca -- 10-06 (4) -- 18-05 (5) -- 28-11 (9) -- $3,000

16. Benjamin Byrd -- Moab, Ut -- 12-04 (5) -- 15-15 (5) -- 28-03 (10) -- $3,000

17. Shane Moline -- Kingman, Az -- 15-03 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 27-14 (10) -- $3,000

18. Kyle Grover -- Trabuco Canyon, Ca -- 12-06 (3) -- 15-05 (5) -- 27-11 (8) -- $3,000

19. Terrence Rath -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 8-14 (3) -- 18-09 (5) -- 27-07 (8) -- $3,000

20. Tim Klinger -- Boulder City, Nv -- 17-03 (5) -- 10-02 (4) -- 27-05 (9) -- $3,000

21. Bret Gouvea -- Redding, Ca -- 16-04 (5) -- 10-12 (5) -- 27-00 (10) -- $2,750

22. Ken Phillips -- Antioch, Ca -- 20-09 (5) -- 6-06 (2) -- 26-15 (7) -- $2,750

23. Chris Costello -- Gilroy, Ca -- 13-14 (5) -- 13-00 (5) -- 26-14 (10) -- $2,750

24. David Valdivia -- Norwalk, Ca -- 17-15 (5) -- 8-12 (2) -- 26-11 (7) -- $2,750

25. Justin Kerr -- Simi Valley, Ca -- 17-09 (5) -- 9-00 (3) -- 26-09 (8) -- $2,750

26. Jeff Rutt -- Winchester, Ca -- 7-12 (3) -- 18-12 (5) -- 26-08 (8) -- $2,500

27. Jeff Michels -- Lakehead, Ca -- 12-12 (5) -- 13-09 (5) -- 26-05 (10) -- $2,500

28. Paul Hodges III -- Glendale, Az -- 14-08 (5) -- 11-02 (5) -- 25-10 (10) -- $2,500

29. Michael Wright -- Grass Valley, Ca -- 14-03 (4) -- 11-03 (3) -- 25-06 (7) -- $2,500

30. Mike Menne -- Cottonwood, Ca -- 12-02 (5) -- 13-03 (5) -- 25-05 (10) -- $2,500

31. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, Az -- 15-15 (5) -- 9-05 (5) -- 25-04 (10) -- $2,000

32. Guy Savidan -- Yorba Linda, Ca -- 14-00 (5) -- 11-03 (5) -- 25-03 (10) -- $2,000

33. Bryan Grier -- Hollister, Ca -- 11-00 (4) -- 14-01 (5) -- 25-01 (9) -- $2,000

34. Toshitada Suzuki -- Tokyo, 125-0061 Japan -- 11-03 (5) -- 13-14 (5) -- 25-01 (10) -- $2,000

35. Todd Woods -- San Dimas, Ca -- 10-03 (5) -- 14-13 (5) -- 25-00 (10) -- $2,000

36. Patrick Spencer -- Penn Valley, Ca -- 14-14 (5) -- 9-11 (3) -- 24-09 (8) -- $2,000

37. Joseph Caporuscio -- Coto De Caza, Ca -- 13-05 (5) -- 11-04 (5) -- 24-09 (10) -- $2,000

38. John Stewart Jr -- Glendale, Az -- 9-12 (5) -- 14-11 (5) -- 24-07 (10) -- $2,000

39. Bink Desaro -- Meridian, Id -- 16-10 (5) -- 7-06 (3) -- 24-00 (8) -- $2,000

40. Justin Patti -- Phoenix, Az -- 18-00 (5) -- 5-15 (2) -- 23-15 (7) -- $2,000

41. Rusty Salewske -- Alpine, Ca -- 16-14 (5) -- 6-12 (3) -- 23-10 (8) -- $1,200

42. Kody Leigh -- Yuma, Az -- 17-09 (5) -- 5-14 (2) -- 23-07 (7) -- $1,200

43. Eric Lippincott -- Daniel, Wy -- 12-15 (4) -- 10-02 (3) -- 23-01 (7)

44. Sean Minderman -- Spokane, Wa -- 6-10 (3) -- 16-01 (5) -- 22-11 (8)

45. Martin Lawrence -- Mesa, Az -- 12-00 (5) -- 10-10 (5) -- 22-10 (10)

46. Bill Brown -- Grand Junction, Co -- 8-15 (4) -- 13-10 (5) -- 22-09 (9)

47. Michael Tuck -- Granite Bay, Ca -- 15-07 (5) -- 6-10 (3) -- 22-01 (8)

48. Cameron Karber -- Scottsdale, Az -- 12-00 (3) -- 9-13 (4) -- 21-13 (7)

49. Mike Saso -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 3-13 (2) -- 17-13 (5) -- 21-10 (7)

50. Mike Nichelini -- Napa, Ca -- 8-10 (3) -- 13-00 (3) -- 21-10 (6)

51. Jason Hickey -- Weiser, Id -- 15-07 (5) -- 6-02 (3) -- 21-09 (8)

52. Richard Dobyns -- Yuba City, Ca -- 7-08 (2) -- 13-13 (5) -- 21-05 (7)

53. Nicholas Fitzsimmons -- Lyle, Wa -- 9-03 (4) -- 12-01 (5) -- 21-04 (9)

54. Todd Herman -- Gilbert, Az -- 11-01 (5) -- 9-09 (5) -- 20-10 (10)

55. Kerry Harris -- San Jose, Ca -- 7-04 (4) -- 13-03 (5) -- 20-07 (9)

56. Mike Phua -- Chino, Ca -- 9-07 (3) -- 10-10 (4) -- 20-01 (7)

57. Josh Kaneko -- Berkeley, Ca -- 9-12 (3) -- 10-01 (2) -- 19-13 (5)

58. Chad Hulbert -- Gilroy, Ca -- 12-12 (5) -- 6-11 (3) -- 19-07 (8)

59. Jon Griffith -- Mesa, Az -- 12-12 (5) -- 6-10 (3) -- 19-06 (8)

60. Jeff Erickson -- Phoenix, Az -- 13-03 (5) -- 5-13 (2) -- 19-00 (7)

61. Bryant Smith -- Castro Valley, Ca -- 7-14 (3) -- 11-00 (4) -- 18-14 (7)

62. Brett Leber -- Dixon, Ca -- 7-01 (3) -- 11-09 (4) -- 18-10 (7)

63. Ted Holverson -- El Cajon, Ca -- 10-06 (5) -- 8-04 (4) -- 18-10 (9)

64. Jeffrey Woods -- Riverside, Ca -- 13-08 (5) -- 4-08 (2) -- 18-00 (7)

65. Davis Hart -- Glendale, Az -- 11-12 (5) -- 6-03 (3) -- 17-15 (8)

66. Matt Newman -- Agoura Hills, Ca -- 7-10 (3) -- 10-00 (3) -- 17-10 (6)

67. Troy Lindner -- Los Angeles, Ca -- 14-00 (5) -- 3-09 (1) -- 17-09 (6)

68. Wade Curtiss -- Meadow Vista, Ca -- 5-05 (2) -- 12-00 (4) -- 17-05 (6)

69. Hunter Schlander -- Modesto, Ca -- 8-03 (3) -- 8-12 (4) -- 16-15 (7)

70. Jay Wright -- Seal Beach, Ca -- 6-04 (2) -- 10-05 (4) -- 16-09 (6)

71. Chris Franks -- Petaluma, Ca -- 11-02 (4) -- 5-04 (2) -- 16-06 (6)

72. Cody Spetz -- Menifee, Ca -- 12-05 (5) -- 4-00 (2) -- 16-05 (7)

73. Steven Latino -- Hemet, Ca -- 7-12 (4) -- 8-07 (3) -- 16-03 (7)

74. Brian Carnahan -- Flagstaff, Az -- 15-15 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 15-15 (4)

75. Miles Howe -- San Clemente, Ca -- 11-07 (5) -- 4-06 (2) -- 15-13 (7)

76. Charlie Weyer -- West Hills, Ca -- 2-05 (1) -- 13-05 (5) -- 15-10 (6)

77. Mike Lavallee -- Sandy, Ut -- 12-08 (5) -- 2-15 (1) -- 15-07 (6)

78. Robert Wysong -- Hauser Lake, Id -- 4-14 (2) -- 10-09 (4) -- 15-07 (6)

79. Russ Barger -- Boise, Id -- 4-06 (1) -- 10-15 (3) -- 15-05 (4)

80. Jason Letterman -- King City, Ca -- 9-03 (4) -- 5-15 (2) -- 15-02 (6)

81. Justin Hanold -- Poway, Ca -- 5-06 (2) -- 9-08 (3) -- 14-14 (5)

82. Bobby Lanham -- Cave Creek, Az -- 9-03 (5) -- 5-03 (3) -- 14-06 (8)

83. Mike Folkestad -- Villa Park, Ca -- 1-15 (1) -- 12-05 (4) -- 14-04 (5)

84. Max Bauer -- La Mesa, Ca -- 8-06 (2) -- 5-11 (2) -- 14-01 (4)

85. Joseph Menegos -- Spring Valley, Ca -- 1-13 (1) -- 12-03 (3) -- 14-00 (4)

86. Brian Nollar -- Homer, Ak -- 5-12 (2) -- 7-10 (2) -- 13-06 (4)

87. Brent Becker -- Henderson, Nv -- 6-00 (2) -- 7-06 (2) -- 13-06 (4)

88. Tyler Brinks -- Spokane, Wa -- 3-04 (1) -- 9-14 (4) -- 13-02 (5)

89. Johnny Johnson -- Lakeside, Az -- 1-12 (1) -- 11-04 (3) -- 13-00 (4)

90. Tuan Nguyen -- Woodland, Ca -- 5-15 (2) -- 7-01 (2) -- 13-00 (4)

91. Mark Walker -- Cave Creek, Az -- 9-11 (3) -- 3-04 (1) -- 12-15 (4)

92. Joe Uribe Jr. -- Surprise, Az -- 4-01 (1) -- 8-14 (2) -- 12-15 (3)

93. Jim Hawkes -- Apache Junction, Az -- 8-02 (3) -- 4-12 (2) -- 12-14 (5)

94. Kyle Baker -- Lancaster, Ca -- 2-06 (1) -- 10-05 (3) -- 12-11 (4)

95. Joe Raftery -- Las Vegas, Nv -- 6-10 (2) -- 6-00 (2) -- 12-10 (4)

96. Andy Manahl -- Mesa, Az -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-11 (4) -- 11-11 (4)

97. Jerred Jennings -- Stockton, Ca -- 9-05 (3) -- 2-04 (1) -- 11-09 (4)

98. Clayton Meyer -- Henderson, Nv -- 6-00 (2) -- 5-04 (2) -- 11-04 (4)

99. Jacob Russell -- Tucson, Az -- 9-02 (3) -- 2-00 (1) -- 11-02 (4)

100. Patrick Whitaker -- Gilbert, Az -- 3-00 (1) -- 7-15 (1) -- 10-15 (2)

101. Rusty Brown -- Tustin, Ca -- 7-04 (2) -- 3-11 (1) -- 10-15 (3)

102. Michael Rigney -- Janesville, Ca -- 4-10 (1) -- 6-03 (1) -- 10-13 (2)

103. Jim Lyon -- Reno, Nv -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-05 (4) -- 10-05 (4)

104. Sidney Reeves -- Ogden, Ut -- 0-00 (4) -- 10-02 (5) -- 10-02 (9)

105. Klayton Belden -- El Cajon, Ca -- 9-14 (4) -- 0-00 (0) -- 9-14 (4)

106. Spencer Davidson -- Chubbuck, Id -- 5-11 (2) -- 3-07 (1) -- 9-02 (3)

107. Vu Au -- Tucson, Az -- 4-00 (1) -- 4-13 (2) -- 8-13 (3)

108. Mitch Kistner -- Gilbert, Az -- 6-04 (2) -- 2-00 (1) -- 8-04 (3)

109. Scott Hellesen -- Whittier, Ca -- 3-09 (1) -- 4-06 (1) -- 7-15 (2)

110. Tai Au -- Glendale, Az -- 7-13 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-13 (3)

111. Josh Parck -- Loma Linda, Ca -- 3-14 (1) -- 3-15 (1) -- 7-13 (2)

112. Greg Gutierrez -- Red Bluff, Ca -- 3-02 (2) -- 4-06 (2) -- 7-08 (4)

113. John Weisfuss -- Oxnard, Ca -- 7-07 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 7-07 (3)

114. Cliff Gregory -- Quartz Hill, Ca -- 4-04 (1) -- 3-03 (1) -- 7-07 (2)

115. Joshua Rhodes -- Lakeside, Ca -- 4-09 (1) -- 2-13 (1) -- 7-06 (2)

116. Manas Malikian -- Huntington Beach, Ca -- 4-00 (1) -- 3-05 (1) -- 7-05 (2)

117. Mike Iloski -- Escondido, Ca -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-14 (2) -- 6-14 (2)

118. Billy Hines -- Vacaville, Ca -- 2-09 (1) -- 4-01 (1) -- 6-10 (2)

119. Keith Kitchen -- Bend, Or -- 6-09 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-09 (2)

120. Matt Shura -- Gilbert, Az -- 4-07 (2) -- 2-02 (1) -- 6-09 (3)

121. Aaron Britt -- Yuba City, Ca -- 3-07 (1) -- 2-15 (1) -- 6-06 (2)

122. Chris Kinley -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 2-06 (1) -- 3-01 (1) -- 5-07 (2)

123. Kevin Gray -- Hermiston, Or -- 3-03 (1) -- 1-13 (1) -- 5-00 (2)

124. Kenichi Tanaka -- Osaka Japan -- 1-13 (1) -- 3-00 (1) -- 4-13 (2)

125. James Shaw -- Coolidge, Az -- 1-15 (1) -- 2-13 (2) -- 4-12 (3)

126. Brent James -- Saint George, Ut -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-11 (2) -- 4-11 (2)

127. Marco Valdez -- Gilbert, Az -- 4-10 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-10 (2)

128. Devin Mcdonald -- Las Vegas, Nv -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-08 (1) -- 4-08 (1)

129. Aaron P Leon -- Henderson, Nv -- 4-05 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-05 (1)

130. Greg Leonard -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 4-02 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-02 (3)

131. Sean Kimble -- San Ramon, Ca -- 3-10 (2) -- 0-07 (1) -- 4-01 (3)

132. Jiggs Benn -- Myrtle Creek, Or -- 3-15 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-15 (1)

133. Jim Novotny -- Folsom, Ca -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-13 (1) -- 3-13 (1)

134. Edwin Shaver -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-12 (1) -- 3-12 (1)

135. Gregory Halliman -- Littlerock, Ca -- 3-04 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-04 (1)

136. Ken Mah -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 3-01 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-01 (1)

137. Michael Free -- Milton, Wa -- 2-07 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 2-07 (1)

138. Soon Chul Lee -- Garden Grove, Ca -- 2-05 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 2-05 (1)

139. Michael Caruso -- Glendale, Az -- 2-04 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 2-04 (1)

140. Maurice Miller Ii -- Cerritos, Ca -- 0-00 (0) -- 1-15 (1) -- 1-15 (1)

141. Kazuki Kodama -- Torrance, Ca -- 1-10 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 1-10 (1)

142. Mo Hassen -- Alameda, Ca -- 1-07 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 1-07 (1)

143. Mike Brillhart -- Waddell, Az -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Jason Burchfield -- Las Vegas, Nv -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Tracy Cardwell -- Veneta, Or -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Carlos Garcia -- Murrieta, Ca -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Ronald Hammett -- La Mesa, Ca -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Mitch Johnston -- Ephrata, Wa -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. David Kiesgen -- Peoria, Az -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Dave Nollar -- Redlands, Ca -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Mark Poe -- Coolidge, Az -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

143. Jeff Stuart -- Las Vegas, Nv -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

Big Bass

Day 1: Billy Skinner -- 6-12 -- $300
Day 2: Patrick Whitaker -- 7-15 -- $300