Lake Havasu is as tough a lake as any to win a tournament at these days. That’s because Lake Havasu City is home to some of the west’s best bass tournament anglers. When tournament organizations started to move their big payout annual tournament championship events to Havasu, many Southern California anglers saw the opportunity to cash in. They flooded to the shores of Lake Havasu to take up residence and hone their skills year-round so that come championship time, they’d have a home-field advantage. And it worked.
Havasu locals like Shaun Bailey and Billy Skinner have done particularly well, winning numerous boats and large cash purses on their backyard lake.
San Diego County’s Kevin Norling and Tom Leedom are arguably the best two bass tournament anglers in San Diego right now, and they joined forces to compete with the locals at National Bass West’s Lake Havasu Open on March 21st and 22nd. The two day tournament drew a field of 29 teams, among those were teams led by both Billy Skinner and Shaun Bailey, as well as western US pros Roy Hawk and Clint Goodwin.
Turns out, it looked like the tournament took place in San Diego, as Norling and Leedom brought in the biggest bags each day (18.96 and 22.23) to win the event. And their closest threat came from another team making the 300 mile road trip from San Diego; Klayton Belden and Adam East. They brought in the 2nd biggest bag each day (18.86 and 21.58) of the tournament, finishing only .55 pounds behind Norling and Leedom overall.
The winning two-day total of 40.99 pounds came without the benefit of any of the tournament’s biggest bass on either day, instead Norling and Leedom climbed to the top via two limits of solid 3-5 pound bass class bass on each day of the event.
Norling attributed the win to hard work during pre-fish, and execution when it counted. “I left San Diego on Thursday morning at 2 AM, and got on the water at 8 AM. I spent the next 10 hours marking waypoints on the GPS for fish that were sitting on spawning beds, or cruising structure areas and tule lines, covering areas from the main lake on up 4-5 miles into the river,” he revealed. “On Friday I spent most of the time flipping the main current [of the river]and working the backs of main bays around the main lake area.”
Leedom left for Havasu after getting out of work on Friday and joined Norling that evening. The two got off on the right foot on Saturday morning, “We went to town on Saturday morning and had 15 pounds in the first few hours, slowly upgrading as the day went along, and hit about 50 of my 80 total waypoints from practice. We caught fish on senkos, flipping the drop shot in scattered tules, and even added a few on the frog.”
Leedom, known as a structure and drop shot specialist, contributed mightily. “He had a 4 pounder, then a 5, then another 4 and before we knew it by 8:15 AM we had over 20 pounds in the livewell. I was able to get a few on the senko as well, and we culled up to over 21 pounds.”
Altogether for their efforts, Leedom and Norling took home over $3,000 and spent their weekend pulling on 4 and 5 pound bass at one of the most scenic reservoirs in the world. They also served notice that Lake Havasu isn’t for locals.