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TFO Helps Set the Pace at Texas Fest

A few days after his finishing up the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, TFO advisor Cliff Pace took inventory of his performance.

Third place isn’t too bad. Not at all.

“Any time you give yourself an opportunity to win on our level, (it’s good),” Pace said. “I did that. I just came up a little short in total weight. All in all, it was a good week to finish third and get the big fish of the weekend. That was a neat deal. Given that, it’s hard to complain, but yes, you do always want to win. Third is better than fourth.”

It was Pace’s first top-three Bassmaster finish since 2013.  He will head to his next tournament with an extra $30,000 and a new Toyota Tundra after landing the event’s biggest bass during the May 17-20 affair.

“Momentum creates confidence, and confidence is good in anything from a competitive aspect,” Pace said.

Pace totaled 61 pounds, 12 ounces, trailing only Drew Benton (67 pounds, 15 ounces) and Jacob Wheeler (64 pounds, 8 ounces).

The key to his success? Versatility.

“I fished smarter,” Pace said. “I have multiple different patterns that will work, depending on the weather scenarios. You see a lot of guys who will have a really good day and then a really bad day. I had enough different things going on where I could be consistent each day. A lot of guys will catch fifteen pounds one day, then eight the next. I was able to stay in the teens every day. Over four days, you add up the numbers and it etches you up the list. A lot of guys they had the deep pattern going, then we had the overcast skies, and they weren’t as successful. I had enough things going on with the event to make it work with the changing conditions.”

Pace’s biggest bass weighed 10 pounds, 5 ounces. He caught it using a TFO Pacemaker 747 with a Carolina rig and a Drop Shad in about 25 feet of water. He boated it within the first 10 minutes of fishing on the first morning.

“What it does is it gives you confidence in what you’re doing,” Pace said. “It makes you believe what you’re doing is the right thing, so I could settle down and fish and fish more effectively and efficiently. That’s what you want to do — find the right thing. But if you settle on the wrong thing, there’s danger in that. Catching a big one like that gives you faith in the area of the lake that you’re fishing.”

Lake Travis, located near Austin, is known for its water clarity and its stout population of bucket-mouth bruisers.

“That lake has a lot of big fish in it,” Pace said. “There were four fish over eight pounds in the tournament.”

Next up for Pace is the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite in Orange, Texas on June 7-10, as he tries maintain momentum for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year honors. He currently stands in second behind Brent Chapman

“To win that would be a very big deal,” Pace said. “It’s something I’ve worked for my whole career. I’ve gotten close a couple times. I’ve never been able to pull off winning it. It’s a little too early in the year to be thinking about it. I’ve gotten off to a very good start. It definitely feels good to be in position the rest of the year.”

Check out the TFO blog for more info as we follow Cliff on the Bassmaster circuit.

Fly Fishing for Spawning Bass: Part II

Spring has started. It’s time to dust off the fly rod, and there’s no better avenue to break in the new season than by sparring with spawning bass. We caught up with TFO supporter Greg Smith of River Hills Outfitters for a few tips on largemouth on the fly.

Picking the Right Time of Year

“March through May, at least in the (Austin) Texas area. The main thing is the water temperatures, 60-degree plus water. Like all animals, they work off the moon cycles. If the water temp is right and the moon is full, they’ll start the spawn process. If it’s too cold, you’re basically looking at a full month before they decide to do it again. I think they’re looking for the right checklist. If they haven’t reached those parameters, it can be pushed back a month a lot of the time. It’s kind of an interesting thing. They definitely are working on moon cycles.”

What To Look For

“At least in the rivers that I fish, I traditionally look to the sides, with the fallen trees and current on it, the deep edge of the river, but here’s the thing: This is the one time of year to scrap all of that. Don’t cast to the deep structure and deep logs. You want to cast to the shallow gravel, medium shallow, grassy areas. Beds are easy to recognize. They’re clean washed gravel, normally in a perfect circle.”

Understanding the Food Chain and Flies

“If you’re looking to target spawning, or pre spawning fish, it needs to be something that resembles a predator to their eggs — a salamander, a crawfish, a lizard, a leech, anything that looks like that. What they’re doing is killing anything that comes near their eggs. All of those small animals in the river will take advantage and eat those eggs. That’s a whole function of them sitting on that bed and protecting those eggs that they’re so aggressive, they’ll protect their young with their life and put themselves in harm’s way to do so. … Crawfish, lizards, leeches. Even small bluegill and baitfish patterns. Those little things will do the same thing. They will try to eat the eggs. As far as flies, I tie my own stuff. None of it’s named. Everyone has their preference. There’s so much on the market these days. Pat Cohen makes some great crawfish patterns.”

The Right Equipment

“Six to eight weight rod, 10 to 15-pound tippet, 10 to 20-pound really. With the flies, go weedless as possible. By the time of year when you’re fishing, it’s when the grass really starts growing and you’re going to snag on stuff. A heavy trout setup or light redfish setup will work.

“I pretty much use TFO exclusively. I’ve probably got 20 (TFO) rods in my guide quiver. I use the BVKs a lot. I’ve got to spend a lot of quality time with (TFO advisor) Lefty (Kreh) and (I use them) out of homage to him.”

Vary Your Retrieve

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game to get them to eat sometimes. They will chase your fly a lot, but they won’t always eat, hardly ever. There is a reading of the fish and testing things. You definitely have to try a faster retrieve and see if they chase it and show more interest. Try that. If they turn off it, you have to slow it down a little bit. Sometimes you have let it sit still when they’re right up next to it and making it look like it’s going down toward their zone. Sometimes that’s the best thing. You can twitch it instead. Sometimes fishing it slower and giving the fish time to recognize it works. Moving it fast sometimes will get them to chase, but it won’t get a bite.”

 

Any more tips on fly fishing for bass? Feel free to let us know with a comment or two.