ROOSEVELT, Ariz. – As a former professional surfer, Todd Kline of San Clemente, Calif., is used to the ups and downs of sports competition – both literally and figuratively. However, for Kline, today was akin to hanging ten all the way to the weigh-in podium. Using a total catch of 25 pounds, 15 ounces, Kline easily took home the tournament title on Lake Roosevelt, out-dueling his next closest rival by nearly 5 ½ pounds for the victory.
“It’s pretty interested actually,” said Kline. “I used to surf professionally as a living and I won four events as a pro surfer. And coming into the finals today I had goose bumps just like I used to get during (surfing competitions). Today, I just had a good feeling it was going to happen. I’ve got some electricity going through my body right now. I definitely saved the best for last.”
Kline said he targeted largemouth bass with a 7-inch Robo worm Texas-rigged fishing in 10 to 25 feet of water.
“I basically utilized whatever water my pro wasn’t using,” he said. “I was mostly targeting points, brush and rock. I really had a blast out there today and fortunately I was able to catch some fish. This is only my second FLW event so it’s just unbelievable.”
But like most of the other finalists, Kline said the fishing was as difficult as he’s ever seen.
“For sure the fishing was hard out there,” Kline continued. “But I just happened to be on the right bite and that made all the difference. I missed a couple of fish today but still managed to come back with five. It’s just been an awesome week.”
For his efforts, Kline took home a brand new, fully rigged Ranger Z117 bass boat with a 90 hp Mercury or Evinrude engine of his choice.
Grant finishes in runner-up position
Although Jeff Grant of La Mirada, Calif., started the day in 10th place, it didn’t take long for him to make a significant move up the standings. Using a catch of 9 pounds, 3 ounces in the finals, Grant shot up the leaderboard with a total, three-day catch of 20 pounds, 10 ounces. And had it not been for Kline’s big day, it just might have been Grant walking away with the tournament title.
“I just happened to have my best day on the last day,” said Grant. “Coming into the finals we just decided to go out there and have a good time. I knew I’d already made the top 10. So I got a good night’s sleep and didn’t even think about anything else. We wound up having a real ‘kick back’ day and catching some good fish.”
Grant said one of the keys to his success came after his disastrous pre-fishing experience.
“Practice was a real struggle for me,” said Grant. “I pre-fished for three days and only got one bite. That’s when I decided that I really needed to downsize. So I put on 6-pound test line and that really made a difference. I only wound up losing one fish all week.”
Grant said that he targeted largemouth bass using a drop-shot equipped with a 4-inch, oxblood-colored Robo worm in 15 to 20 feet of water.
“I was keying on long points with brush,” he said. “Today, we hit three different spots and kept rotating back and fourth to those areas. And it worked out pretty well.”
In the end, Grant said he couldn’t have been much happier with the way things ultimately turned out.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Grant, who took home $3,775 in winnings. “The tournament started out pretty rough, but it turned into an awesome week.”
Avina repeats top-10 finish
After taking a five-year hiatus from the sport of professional bass fishing, David Avina of Sun City, Calif., decided to jump back into competitive fishing during the first EverStart Series Western Division event of the season at Lake Oroville. In that January tournament, Avina – rather amazingly – walked away with a fourth-place finish overall.
Well today, Avina did one better, finishing his second event of the season in third place – giving him back-to-back top-10 finishes for the season to date.
“This was the best I could do so I’m happy,” said Avina, who recorded a total catch of 20 pounds, 4 ounces. “It was really a grind out there. I wound up getting my fifth fish with about 20 minutes to go. I knew I just had to stick it out all day and it paid off.”
Avina said that he continued fishing a drop-shot with his uncle’s homemade, hand-poured custom-made worms.
“I think I’m the only person here who can’t fish a Senko on this lake,” Avina joked. “For me, today was all about the drop-shot.”
So what is Avina’s secret behind consecutive top-10 finishes after such a long layoff?
“I’m just trying to do the best I can every single tournament,” he said.
For his efforts, Avina netted a nearly $3,200 in winnings.
Leue falls to fourth
“It was tougher out there today,” said Leue, who ultimately recorded a total, three-day catch of 19 pounds, 6 ounces. “We’re still in post-front conditions and I think a lot of people struggled. I also didn’t have as many opportunities to fish the way I wanted to and that played a part. But that’s just fishing.”
Leue said that he targeted rocky banks, points and scattered trees with a shallow square-bill crankbait to land most of his catch.
However, although he didn’t get the title he was looking for, the 2012 EverStart Series Championship winner and 2012 EverStart Series Western Division points winner, has added yet another top-10 finish to his credit – as well as more than $2,600 in additional winnings for his efforts on Lake Roosevelt.
Best of the rest
Joseph Letsinger of Sacramento, Calif., finished the Lake Roosevelt event in fifth place overall after landing a total catch weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces. As a result, Letsinger won over $2,200 for his finish.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler finalists:
6th: Chris Trumbull of Oakley, Calif., 18-4
7th: Tony Zanotelli of Redding, Calif., 18-0
8th: Scott Bern of San Rafael, Calif., 17-7
9th: John Stewart, Jr., of Glendale, Ariz., 15-10
10th: Michael Smith of Temecula, Calif., 11-10
For a complete list of co-angler results, click here.
EverStart Series Western Division action resumes May 16-18 in Oakley, Calif., on the California Delta.