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Home > Blog > Frank Villa Lands Trip To B.A.S.S. Federation Nation National Championship!

Frank Villa Lands Trip To B.A.S.S. Federation Nation National Championship!

Posted by on June 5, 2012

FrankVilla2012.JPG     The Centennial Bass Club member and current Colorado BASS Federation Nation Youth Director stayed consistent throughout the event to land the top spot for the Colorado State Team contenders and in October will represent Colorado at the National Championship event on Wheeler Lake, AL.  Here is a run-down from Frank on how he accomplished this goal.

     The Western Divisional event at Flaming Gorge, on the Utah/Wyoming border was held May 28-June 1, 2012.  The 28-29 were official pre-fish days and the three tournament days were the 30-1.  Frank Villa, who travelled with his wife Echo, also helped to coordinate the Youth contenders, including Michael Harpell and his own son Josh Villa, along with Youth Boat Captain Chad Brekke.  Frank qualified on the State Team as a co-angler and fished out of a different boat each day.

     One thing that played on the minds of most anglers in the event is the no-cull rule; once a fish is placed into the live well it cannot come out and be replaced with another, larger fish.  In this event, as in previous events at Flaming Gorge, one of the themes on the weigh-in stage was, “I had my limit but let them go!”  Knowing what average size would be needed to stay on top was crucial and Frank Villa led the Colorado Team from Day One with a limit each of the first two days and four in the box on Day Three.

     On the first day of official pre-fish, Frank and partner John Beranek of Southwest Colorado Bassmasters, decided to check out the up-river portion of the lake and travelled up the Green and Blacks Fork Rivers.  “We were able to find some spots…able to shake off quite a few.  The water was slightly to mostly stained and our baits included mostly soft plastics with a jerk bait and crank bait thrown in.  Water temp was in the mid-50’s and the wind was variable at 5-15 mph.”    The second pre-fish day the duo decided to check out the lower section of the lake and traveled to the Anvil Point area.  “We were able to see a few fish that were bigger and I felt very confident that if I drew someone that took me south I could catch my five fish.  The south end of the lake had very clear water which made a jerk bait a great choice.”  Water temp: mid-50’s, winds variable 5-15 mph.

     On Day One of tournament fishing Frank drew Seth Garrison from Farmington, NM, who wanted to run to the clear water in the south end of the lake.  “We began our day in the swim beach area where the area looked very similar to Navajo Reservoir. I began by throwing a jerk bait and after a few misses I put my 1st fish in the boat which was a 13 1/2 incher.”  Garrison released a few “nice ones” before also putting two in his live well, and then they left for nearby Anvil Point area, where Garrison caught another bass but Frank did not.  “The next spot really produced, Seth finished out his limit at 9:15 am and so he said to take the boat and he would just watch.  I pulled four bass from that spot to finish my limit.  We were done by 10:30 am.”  The two anglers considered continuing to fish to locate new areas but eventually returned to the marina to await the start of weigh-in.  Frank said, “The day was bright and sunny with variable winds.  I felt the bite was still going to be slow because of the water temp so I worked my jerk bait with a very slow cadence.”     The second day Frank drew Andy Bravence from Globe, AZ.  “He said his spot was up the Black and I actually had some spots there, too.  When we arrived at his spot he positioned his boat 10 feet from the bank and paralleled his casts down the bank.  Fishing as a non-boater and being in the back of the boat I was at a disadvantage because I had no ability to cast anywhere, so I bided my time and I knew that when I had my chance I needed to capitalize on it.  After about an hour Andy had only one fish and decided to give that spot a break.  He decided to run across the river and fish a bluff wall that transitioned into a flat, which what John and I pre-fished.  I became very focused and placed my cast in the areas I wanted.  As Andy continued to throw his crank bait, I caught my 5 bass in about 20 minutes in a 50-yard stretch of bluff wall pitching a tube. I put my equipment away and waited for Andy to catch the rest of his limit.
     He did and the limits were done by 9:30 am.  They, “went to a cove and talked, ate snacks, and drank water. Basically we just relaxed for a few hours while we waited for weigh in. This day was another bright and sunny day with a few clouds and I felt that I needed to get my bait in front of the fish. It seemed like they didn't want to move very far to eat. The tube, Texas-rigged with a very light weight on a bluff wall in stained water is perfect for that.”

Frank2.jpg     On the final day of competition Frank drew Rob Johnson from the Utah team, who wanted to fish his morning bite to the south.  Frank agreed and they went to the “Grindstone” area, where Rob caught two but Frank only had one fish short of the 12-inch minimum.  The fished the area for three hours more then moved to the Lucerne area for a few more hours without success.  “I remember talking with Dave Gerhardt and Joe Conway and they both said, ‘Don’t give up.’  Keep trying and you will find them.”  This encouragement, experience and Frank’s own thought process helped, “I was getting nervous that I was going to go to weigh in without a fish to weigh but I stopped and sat down for a few minutes and contemplated what had changed.  I knew the wind was blowing harder but the water was still warmer than it had been in three or four days.  I threw my jerkbait and increased the speed of my cadence and I pulled my 1st fish, I looked at my watch and it was noon and I knew I only had 1 1/2 hours to get my fish. I asked Rob if we could go to the swim beach area because I knew I could catch a fish or 2 there.  He said he had one more cut in that area that he can usually get a few fish from. I caught a nice 2 pounder on a crankbait there then we moved to the swim beach where I caught my 3rd fish. My 4th fish, the last one I would catch for the day, came with 6 minutes to go on a point right outside Buckboard Marina Cove.”

Frank’s lures:

     I primarily used a Lucky Craft Pointer jerk bait in Ghost Minnow color in the clear water. In the dirtier water I changed to a 3.5 inch Strike King Green Pumpkin Coffee Tube or 3 inch Mad Bass Custom Baits Tube in Ole Ugly and a Wiggle Wart in a Green Craw color.

     In clear water I fished anywhere from 5-15 feet deep but the key was making long casts, in the dirtier water I used the Tube or the crank bait.  With the tube I Texas-rigged it with a 3/16 ounce bullet weight but I would go down to a 1/8 ounce if I felt I needed a slower fall.  I used it on bluff walls that were in 15ft of water as the wall transitioned to a flat.  I would occasionally change to the Wiggle Wart crank bait. The key to the crank bait was it needed to have bottom contact.

WesternDiv2012_053.jpg     My greatest key to success was having the ability to change with the conditions.  As a non-boater, many times you don't get to choose the position of the boat or the area you want to fish, and each day is different; it is either the weather, the boater, the area, etc., but it’s always different.  You need to be able to look at the conditions you are fishing and pick the right lure or the correct presentation.  There also is a little luck involved and being on fish really helps, but the greatest key to success is being confident.  You need to always be positive and believe on every cast that you will be getting a bite.

Frank's Equipment:

     Frank’s equipment included a 7’ MH Fast Action Custom Tiger Rod for the jerk bait, with a Quantum Incyte reel spooled with 8 lb. Berkley Vanish line.  His crank bait tools are a 7’2” Skeet Reese Crank bait rod with a Bass Pro Shop RCX reel and 10lb. Berkley Vanish line, and he tosses tubes with a 7’ Skeet Reese Senko rod, Quantum Incyte reel, and 8 lb. Berkley Vanish line.

Frank’s sponsors include: Naked Baitco, Fintech, Lake Fork Tackle, OBB Lures, Mad Bass Custom Baits, and Parasite Weights.     Colorado as a team was consistently in the middle of the pack and ended up in 6th overall in competition
between the states. The two Colorado Jr. contenders also landed a sixth place finish in their respective age groups.  Click on this link for more coverage, standings and photos from