Robert Reid and Donny Biagi are both relatives of the bass fishing Nixon family – Larry, Leland, and Paul to name a few. Donny’s older brother, John Biagi, is a well-known stick in northwest bass fishing circles. That well of bass fishing DNA sprung to life in the first ever ABA event for either angler. Robert is still recovering from a broken back suffered in a sledding accident this past winter (which limited their participation to just one of the two tournament days), so in addition to inexperience, there was plenty of other adversity to overcome.
Interesting to note that despite the spinnerbait taking a backseat over the last several years to a whole host of other baits, it still has its time and place where it is a very good option.
The following is as told by Donny Biagi
Robert and I fished together two weeks prior to the tournament. The water clarity was pretty stained and about 55 degrees. We caught fish in the 2½ – 3 pound range on hard structure near subtle depth changes with some weed growth present. We thought that this was perfect spawning areas, hopefully the bigger females would be coming into the area in the next couple weeks. We compared where we caught the fish to the Google images of the area. We wanted to position the boat to maximize our baits in the optimal areas. We had the most success on this prefish day with bright-colored rattletraps.
We prefished separately the weekend prior to the tournament, fished from about 1:30-6:30. The goal was to fish about 15 areas very quickly to see if there was any fish or if general activity was present. Had some success with spinnerbaits on areas with structure consisting of rock and transitions from reeds to rock, shallow to deeper. We had 3 smallies in the 4-5 pound range using cranks near a flat with current, an eddie, and rock boulders.
We thought from the feedback of prefishing that we had a pretty good plan, but that doesn’t always equate to catching on tournament day! Many times in the past, we have had a couple of “go-to” spots that just didn’t pan out. The hardest challenge I would say is do we wait or do we go? Letting the feedback dictate what we do after we have exhausted all possibilities was the goal. GOA has really been helpful in analyzing the feedback and making decisions based on the analysis.
Recap of the Day
The day of the tournament didn’t start out so hot, as I forgot to tell Robert we had to drive by the dock to do the live well checks. We drew #11 and boat #10 was the first boat out, as we were out in the marina waiting for them to call our number, I remembered about the live well check, OOOPS!! By the time we got through the live well checks boat #13 was ahead of us.
Generally, Robert and I like to fish in the front of the boat together so we can maximize each cast. Sometimes, that can be a little challenging. We finally arrive at out first area and Robert makes his first cast, before the spinnerbait gets going he breaks off the biggest one of the day – my rod. There were many Disney words that came out of his mouth. Little did we know what was about to happen. I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to fish with your best friend. I told him it could be worse, your spinnerbait is hooked on my pole and it could have been in the water. Robert reties his spinnerbait and the first cast lands a 5.4 LB largemouth! For the next half hour we proceeded to catch fish after fish bringing our weight up to about 21 pounds by 7:30! Say what?!!! The next area we fished was close by and consisted of hard structure where we caught many fish, the biggest one was a smallie just over 3 ½ pounds. This put our weight up to around 23 pounds by about 9:30. We fished both areas for till about 10:00 before deciding to go flip. At that point we were still pinching ourselves, looking in the livewell for affirmation, asking ourselves if that just happened! High-fiving, pointing to the sky (Big Man upstairs), and an occasional hug with the expressions of feeling blessed and very thankful. We don’t like to flip, but we knew it was what we had to do if we wanted a to seal the deal. We did catch one flipping but it was only 3 ½ so it didn’t cull. We decided to go back to the original area and ended up catching one more largemouth that was just over 4 ½ pounds.
Throughout the day there was one other boat that fished in the general vicinity for about 30 minutes. Typically, when there is no one around us we think to ourselves “what do they know that we don’t?”
Our strategy was to fish the above mentioned areas and then move to other areas nearby with similar characteristics. We were able to stick with our strategy, which is typically not the case.
Lews Speedspool reel, Shimano Curado reel, St. Croix Legend rods, Nichols spinnerbaits (Chart/White blades, chart/white skirts – with a trailer hook, which was very important), War Eagle Spinnerbaits (all copper, black/copper) and Dry Creek tubes.
We would like to thank my brother John Biagi for his guidance.
I believe we found these fish to be in very specific area and we were able to fish it very thoroughly. Even though we won, there is always room for improvement. Bass fishing is a very humbling sport. Although we had some minor lapses in the morning we landed every fish.