LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. – The confidence exuded by Mike Goodwin throughout the week at Lake Havasu paid off for him Saturday as he won the second EverStart Series Western Division tournament of the year. The local pro from Lake Havasu City weighed in his fourth five-bass limit of the week, totaled 27 pounds, 13 ounces in the final round and won the Pro Division by just 4 ounces.
“This is unbelievable, I’m telling you,” said Goodwin, who collected $8,500 and a new Ranger boat for the victory. “How much excitement can you handle?”
“Excitement” might be the operative word for the Lake Havasu event. In addition to the festive atmosphere on the water provided by the college spring breakers gathered here this week, the bass were in full spawn throughout the tournament and the bite just seemed to get better with each passing day.
Goodwin – who led on days one and three, and placed second on day two – never strayed from his game plan Saturday. Every morning he started by sight-fishing a stretch of bank just a mile and a half upriver from the takeoff site at Windsor Beach park. He’d stay there for about a half-hour, then he would move out and roam the lake to fish underwater wood structure that he’s found over the years to hold a lot of bass.
“I probably know as many trees and logs as anybody on this lake. I don’t mean to sound cocky, but I just know the good wood and where the bass relate to the wood,” he said. “On several of those key spots, the fish replenished every day. Today, I saw more smallmouths than I have seen in two weeks of practice.”
Goodwin said that he didn’t get any reaction bites all week, instead focusing on his trusty combination of a brown jig and purple Uncle Josh pork frog, as well as a Roboworm. Saturday, he culled “three or four” bass en route to his limit weighing 12 pounds, 10 ounces.
“The key to my tournament was being pretty versatile,” he said. “This lake is all about timing, and I pretty much know when and where I need to go and how much time to spend there. You know, I fished so hard, and I just got the key bites when I needed them.”
Needless to say, today’s close victory was highly rewarding for the 49-year-old contractor, who has one BFL Colorado Division victory and a 1995 All-American appearance under his belt, as well.
“This is by far the highlight of my career,” he said. “I’m just tickled to death.”
The tickling sensation that Goodwin felt might also have been attributed to Brent Ehrler, who made a mighty push Saturday that fell just 4 ounces short of victory. In fourth place coming into the day, the pro from Redlands, Calif., landed the heaviest limit of the day – 14 pounds, 8 ounces – finished the final round with a 27-9 total and earned $8,000 for second place in the Pro Division.
“Oh man, that’s huge. I had no idea I had that much,” said Ehrler, whose personal scale broke Saturday. “Man, it was just a fun day.”
Ehrler is a Western Division force to be reckoned with. He scored three third-place finishes – at lakes Pleasant, Mead and Clear – and won the points title in 2003. Apparently, he can add Lake Havasu to his repertoire of tournament prowess.
“Two days ago, these fish just really started pulling up on some beds,” he said.
Justin Kerr, the 22-year-old rookie pro from Simi Valley, Calif., added a solid notch to his fishing resume Saturday by finishing third and collecting $7,000 with a final-round weight of 24 pounds, 13 ounces. He caught a limit Saturday that weighed 11-9.
“The first three days, I started by throwing spinnerbaits with the wind. Then I’d switch to tubes and a drop-shot,” Kerr said. “Today, I went for sight-fish.”
Suzow fourth, Strelic fifth
Pro John Suzow of Newbury Park, Calif., finished in fourth place by virtue of a tiebreaker and collected $6,000. He also caught a final-round weight of 24 pounds, 13 ounces.
“Lake Havasu is a really great lake,” he said. “This is a little bit early for the bed fish that I like to fish, so I stayed deep and fished the bass habitat out on the lake. The fish are moving around all over.”
“I had a great day,” he said. “I pretty much went sight-fishing all week. I ran out of water two days ago, and I just kept searching for more and more.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers in EverStart Western competition at Lake Havasu are Bobby Lanham of Scottsdale, Ariz., with a final-round weight of 23 pounds, 7 ounces (6th place, $5,000); Todd Woods of Murrieta, Calif., with 21-1 (7th, $4,500); Shane Shafer of Ogden, Utah, with 21-0 (8th, $4,000); Art Berry of Ramona, Calif., with 21-0 (9th, $3,500); and Al Robinson of Boulder City, Nev., with 19-13 (10th, $3,000).
The next EverStart Series event is a Central Division contest at Pickwick Lake near Florence, Ala., March 24-27.
The next Western Division tournament will be held at Clear Lake near Clearlake, Calif., April 14-17.