Justin Lucas 2015 07

5 min to read



A Western Homecoming

By: Tyler Brinks

The Bassmaster Elite Series is headed west and it will be a homecoming for many anglers. California native and current Alabama resident Justin Lucas is one of the many who are eager to compete in their home region. He grew up in Sacramento and calls the nearby California Delta one of his home waters, a place where he has fond memories and past tournament success.  With his experience at the next two venues, he expects two excellent events at the Sacramento River and Lake Havasu.

APR 30 – MAY 3
Sacramento Bassmaster Elite at Sacramento River
Sacramento River, Sacramento, California

“I am really excited about this event because it is really where I learned about tournament bass fishing. All of my friends and family will be there as well as all of the guys who I used to compete against, it will be great to be in front of the hometown crowd,” adds Lucas. He has a long history on this venue and it includes winning tournaments, including one as a co-angler in an FLW Series Western Division event where he caught a 13lb 9oz bass on the last cast of one of the competition days.

While the tournament will take place out of the Sacramento River, the vast majority of the field will make the long run to the famed California Delta in search of winning bags. Lucas feels there is virtually no chance that the winning bag will come from the Sacramento River itself. Instead, he believes the winning angler will travel ninety minutes or more each way to fish the Delta. “The river has bass in it, but it is basically just miles of riprap and just doesn’t hold the same population of big bass like the Delta does. It doesn’t have the grass and all of the great things that makes the Delta so good,” states Lucas.

He predicts that the winning strategy could be a number of techniques including flippin’ and punchin’ as well as reaction baits like crankbaits, topwater and vibrating jigs. When asked for the predicted winning weight for the event, Lucas stated that it should take a daily average of 21-22lbs to take the win.

Punchin’ heavy grass mats will be a top producer during this event and Lucas plans to utilize a strategy he has learned over the years, alternating between different sizes of tungsten weights to find the right size to penetrate the grass. “If I know I am punching, I will have three identical 8’ heavy Abu Garcia Villain rods rigged up with Abu Garcia Revo Rocket reels. Each of them will have a different size Eco Pro Tungsten weight, a 1 oz, 1.5oz and a 2oz so I can fish thicker and thinner mats without have to re-tie or worry about it not getting through the grass,” shares Lucas. Having three different weight sizes allows him to fish more effectively and he believes the Berkley Havoc Pit Boss Jr. is the perfect punching bait to round out the presentation. “It is the right size bait for getting through the mats without hanging up. I will rig it on a 4/0 straight shank hook and fish it on 65lb Berkley Trilene Professional Grade Braid,” says Lucas.

MAY 7-10
Bassmaster Elite at Lake Havasu presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels
Lake Havasu, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

While just one state over from his previous home, Lucas has relatively limited experience fishing on Havasu. “I have fished a few tournaments there and most of them were as a co-angler, but I am familiar with it to a degree. I still have more experience there than most of the field, so that should help me in this event,” states Lucas.

Lucas predicts the winning bags to be largemouth, but says smallmouth will definitely play a factor. “The thing about fishing these desert lakes is it is all about fish management, knowing how many to catch each day and how many to save. The desert lakes are unlike anything else we encounter because the areas just don’t replenish as easily as other places and the general population of bass is also smaller on these lakes,” adds Lucas.

His predictions for top patterns are across the board and each angler should be able to do what suits them best. “Drop-shotting, flipping, topwater, spinnerbaits, jigs, crankbaits and swimbaits should all do well here. It will really come down to fishing whatever you like to do,” acknowledges Lucas. This wide spectrum of possibility also includes fishing locations. “The cool thing about how Havasu sets up is you will have plenty of guys fishing up the river and just as many fishing the lake. I think it will really split everyone up and guys can really spread out and cover water,” predicts the Alabama pro. At Havasu, Lucas predicts a winning weight with a daily average of 18 pounds per day.

When asked about his plan for the event, Lucas said that the drop-shot will play a big role in his arsenal. “Anytime you are fishing super clear water like Havasu has, the drop-shot will be a factor. It works well on Havasu and I have found that those natural colors and hues like oxblood and green pumpkin outperform everything else,” adds Lucas. He fishes his drop-shot on a 7’ medium action Abu Garcia Veracity rod with a Revo MGX spinning reel with 8lb Berkley Nanofil line and an 6 to 8lb Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon leader. Another key is the weight size and shape. “I’ll use a 3/16 oz Eco Pro Tungsten Full Contact drop-shot weight the majority of the time but will go up or down in sizes based on how deep I am fishing,” says Lucas.

The Bassmaster Elite Series events on the Sacramento River and Lake Havasu should prove to be excellent tournaments both in terms of numbers of fish caught and total weight. Pros with Western origins like Justin Lucas are expecting to do well and also show the rest of the country what the West Coast has to offer bass fishermen.

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