Friday, September 7, 2012

2012 Top Bass Classic Pre-Tournament Report and Interviews with Jarrod Dean, Gerard Cocks and Steve Hashimoto

The 2012 Top Bass Classic anglers are commencing for battle this weekend. The top 75 teams will try to out duel each for the victory on Balsam Lake. 

Balsam is a deep, clear lake situated in the heart of the Trent-Severn waterway. With the highest attitude, water flows from Balsam east and west, feeding the entire system. 

Anglers can expect a wide range of techniques to work. With health largemouth and smallmouth populations, anglers have many options. Typically, the shoreline is sandy with several coves having lush, marshy grass.  Overall, shoreline cover is minimal. Luxurious homes encompass most of the shoreline decreasing the ability to find suitable cover. Another negative is homeowners have a reputation of being overly vocal towards anglers fishing docks.  Many find the mid-depths more productive than beating the bank.

This lake is best known for it’s expansive weed beds in the 6 to 15 foot range.  A popular technique is pitching soft plastics or jigs into weed patches. It can be a painstaking process but rewarding if a sizeable school is located.

Smallmouth are always critical here.  Traditional techniques of drop shotting, topwaters and jerkbaits work well.   A bonus slab smallmouth will go a long way in any tournament on Balsam and if a school can be located, victory is almost a sure thing. 

IBASSIN tracked down two dominate teams for their inside knowledge and expertise on Balsam.

Jarrod Dean and Gerard Cocks
One of the most feared fishing duos ever; Jarrod and Gerard have countless titles and accolades. This team is the 2011 and 2010 Top Bass Classic Champions. Both are eager to make it three Classics in a row.

Past Classic Champs Gerard and Jarrod
Photos: Lures and Tours
Lake Conditions
“The wind just started to kick up (Thursday afternoon) and that should make it worse! It’s been a challenge.”  Lamented Jarrod. “We’ve been on the water since Tuesday and fishing has been up and down.”  Balsam Lake is very suited to this pair’s love for jig fishing.  Jarrod is owner of Punisher Jigs and masterfully ties jigs for most Ontario tournament anglers.  Even though they haven’t had the success here as they have had on other Kawartha Lakes, they are experts at addressing and adjusting to current fishing conditions.  “We have been fishing from 6” to 16 feet of water.” Laughs Jarrod. “The lake looks fine but it has been tough fishing.”

“We are going after smallmouth and largemouth. I think you have to be competitive.” Advises Gerard Cocks. “We have been catching largemouth here and there but we did find a pod of smallmouth… they were all over 4 pounds.”

Gerard, known as G by his friends, is extremely secretive but he did disclose that the rain and thunderstorms on Saturday and post-front conditions expected for Sunday would make fishing a grind.   When I asked if the rain would help, Gerard said, “Sure!” Then paused and said “NO! It will make it worse!”

Winning Weight?
“I’d say 31 pounds. But, it might be a bit less. We don’t know what the storm will do to the fishing.” Warns Cocks. “The average weight will be about 8 or 9 pounds. Fishing hasn’t been that good.”

Steve Hashimoto
Steve has a long tournament career and is no rookie on this lake. Steve will be fishing with Russ Watkins.  The pair won the Balsam Top Bass event this July making Steve’s opinions exceptionally significant.

Steve and Russ after their Balsam win.
Lake Conditions
“Fishing has been very tough!” explains Hashimoto. “It has been difficult to develop any pattern because I am catching one here and one there. The weeds are perfect but there are a lot of them.” This makes narrowing the search more daunting even.  Though Steve has put several days of practice in, he is still not happy he’s on them great.

“Water temp is failing which worries me. It was 75 degrees F and today (Thursday) it is 73F. With the front moving in this weekend, it might really change the fishing conditions.” Fears Steve.

“We’re after both smallmouth and largemouth. I think you have too to do well here.” Reflects Steve. Their victory in July was with all largemouth but they (bass) haven’t been as willing as Steve hoped for.

Having already spent several days on the water, Steve has searched shallow and deep. He didn’t explain in complete detail his approach (nor did I ask for it) but he was clear that he left little to chance.

Winning Weight?
“About 27 or 28 lbs should do it. I cannot imagine it being over 30lbs.”  Guesses Steve. “The average tournament bag should be around 10 to 12 pounds.”

Good Luck to both teams and stay tuned for photos, leader board and details throughout the weekend. 

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