It’s Delta vu all over again

BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. - Something strangely familiar happened at the Delta on Saturday. It wasn't just that Jimmy Reese caught yet another 22-pound sack of bass and won the Stren Series Western Division finale at the California Delta, nor that he clinched the Pro Division standings title in the process. But did he have to go and beat Justin Kerr too? Now that's just eerie. Saturday's weigh-in was like watching one of those retrospective shows on VH1 where they make fun of pop-culture highlights a week or a year after they happened. Hey, remember in 2006 when Jimmy Reese beat Justin Kerr at the Delta to win Angler of the Year? Wasn't that funny? Sure, but funny is when it happens once. If it happens twice, it's a phenomenon. Indeed, Stren Series fans couldn't be faulted if they felt they were in a time warp Saturday afternoon. There he sat in the finals, Kerr in the leader's hot seat after weighing in a 20-pound sack, watching as the last pro, Reese, came to the scale with a huge fish limit of his own. It's May, the California sun is shining, and the kids are fishing in the trout pond behind the crowd in the parking lot of the Antioch, Calif., Wal-Mart. Yup, feels like 2006, all right. Only, it's not. This happened today, Saturday, May 19, 2007 - just like it did on Saturday, May 6, 2006. "Isn't it funny? It's the exact same thing," Kerr laughed. "There was nothing I could do." "Justin, he catches them. He's a stud fisherman who certainly deserves to be there," Reese said. "I don't know. I'm not even supposed to win here." Pro Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., won the Stren Series Western Division finale at the California Delta - for the second year in a row - with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 92-15.Second verse, same as the first For the record, Reese actually clinched the standings title Friday when he made the cut out of the opening round at the Delta - which, incidentally, is exactly how he did it last year. We'll check the books to make sure, but this is likely the first time anyone has won back-to-back points titles in the Stren Series. It's certainly the first repeat champion at the California Delta in FLW Outdoors competition, and Reese said he used his standings win to good effect Saturday. "Winning the Angler of the Year took the pressure off for today," he said. "I just went fishing. Whatever was in front of me was what I fished. If it was beds or deeper current or weeds, that was what I went after. I'd get to a spot and I'd ask, `How am I going to fish what's in front of me?' I broke a fish off today on a hook set, but other than that I didn't lose a fish all week. Everything just went right." Reese caught a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 5 ounces in Saturday's 10-boat finals. He was the only angler to break 20 pounds all four days of the tournament, and his winning total, 92-15, beat Kerr by almost 10 pounds. Reese unsurprisingly maintains that he has a secret for doing well at the Delta. Judging by his track record here, that's probably the most truthful thing an angler has said here all week. What we do know is that Reese fished mainly in Franks Tract all week, working a variety of spots and patterns. On Saturday morning, his first reaction-bait area proved unproductive, so he moved out toward "middle Franks" and filled out his limit on a Senko. Then his partner, Mike Iloski - who, not coincidentally, won the Co-angler Division - reminded him of a spot that he knew of but hadn't fished yet. There he popped two 5-pounders. After that, toward the end of the day, Reese was finally able to fish a spot that had eluded him all week because of boat traffic. There, he was able to cull up with three good keepers. "There was a boat in there, so I couldn't fish it all until today," he said. "I go in there this afternoon, and it was whack, whack, whack." Jimmy ReeseAs for exactly how Reese caught what, where and when remains the mystery that wins California Delta tournaments. One key hint, however, might lie in the array of baits that he said he used not just all week, but even just today. Officially, his winning baits were a Margarita-Mutilator-colored Roboworm for his drop-shot, a watermelon-colored Yamamoto Senko and a Wild Vibe lipless crankbait. One wonders, however, if the key element was the eye-grabbing MS Slammer swimbait that he didn't admit to using until Saturday. Whatever the case, that's the kind of versatility that wins Angler of the Year titles. This year, Reese finished 16th at Shasta Lake in January, sixth at Lake Mead in February and 26th at Clear Lake in April. Those three fisheries alone are about as different as they come from each other, but then throw in the labyrinthine tidal rivers of the Cal Delta and you've got yourself a mind-boggling mess to fish for a season. But for Reese, who hails from Witter Springs, Calif., and calls Clear Lake (where he also won last year) his home water, it's all in a day's work. "It's just a thinking process of going through the tournament, making the right decisions," he said. "I did make some changes throughout the week. I fished a little longer and harder the first two days to get better weights, but I was also trying to leave some fish in key areas for later. There were a lot fewer weeds this year, and that changed the area that I fished last year. It set up totally different, and I didn't even fish it. "This is good. It feels great. We are really fortunate to have (FLW Outdoors) come out here and put on this show for us," he said. "I honestly didn't think I could win here again, but I guess you can." Out West, Reese has certainly been the show's biggest star the last two years. He has three wins - two at the Delta, one at Clear Lake - and, with his $25,000 winner's check today, over $243,000 in career earnings. That's not to mention the Ranger boats, including one this week, that he has won. And don't forget the 755 points this year for Jimmy Reese, who is now your 2006 and 2007 Stren Series Western Division Angler of the Year. Pro Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., grabbed his second runner-up finish at the Delta with a four-day total of 83 pounds, 3 ounces. His limit Saturday - 20 pounds, 7 ounces - was the second-heaviest of the day.Lost fish cost Kerr Kerr, who hails from Simi Valley, Calif., grabbed his second runner-up finish and earned $8,917 at the Delta with a four-day total of 83 pounds, 3 ounces. His limit Saturday - 20 pounds, 7 ounces - was the second-heaviest of the day behind Reese's. He caught it mainly on a black frog from Reaction Innovations known as a Swamp Donkey, but also used a drop-shot with a Roboworm. "I think a lot of females were sitting off the beds a little bit, so I could catch them on a frog when the tide was coming in," he said. Kerr's main problem this week was dead fish. He had one Saturday and also one Wednesday. Fishing regulations here state that an angler cannot cull a dead fish. If it goes in the livewell, it stays in the livewell. The issue with Kerr's lost fish was that they were early catches each day, and they were small. In addition to the 8-ounce penalty he suffered for each fish, he lost major weight in his limits since he had to keep small fish. "I had to cull out 4-pounders because of those 2-pound fish. It probably cost me 4 or 5 pounds, total, this week," he said. "Like Jimmy said, he fished flawlessly. I was not flawless." But he's still a stud. Not only did Kerr exhibit true sportsmanship in following the dead-fish culling rule to the letter of the law, he accumulated his fifth Western Division top-10 finish this week. He's still searching for that big win, though. "Like I said last year, I'm just going to keep plugging away," he said. "Eventually, I'll win one of these things." Zack Thompson of Orinda, Calif., caught a limit weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces and finished third for the pros with a total weight of 81-5.Thompson third Zack Thompson of Orinda, Calif., caught a limit weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces and finished third for the pros with a total weight of 81-5. He earned $8,026. "It's been a really fun week. Today I had an opportunity in the last five minutes to catch a really big fish, but I just couldn't land that big kicker," he said. "I had one game plan the entire week. I was flipping pretty shallow with Berkley Mad Critters and a Sweet Beaver on 65-pound-test line. These fish aren't line-shy out here." Rob Riehl of Tracy, Calif., caught a limit Saturday weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces and he finished fourth for the pros with a total weight of 81-2.Riehl fourth Rob Riehl of Tracy, Calif. - who caught the biggest limits of the day Thursday and Friday - had trouble backing that up in the finals. His limit Saturday weighed just 11 pounds, 11 ounces and he finished fourth for the pros with a total weight of 81-2. "My biggest problem the last two years here is that, by day four, I have no fish left," he said. "I didn't have that problem this week, but I lost a lot of fish today. I was throwing a big bait and I got a lot of big bites, but I couldn't keep them on the hook." Riehl earned $7,134. Ken Mah of Elk Grove, Calif., slid up to finish in the fifth position for the pros with a final total of 80 pounds, 13 ounces. He caught a nice limit weighing 19-3 Saturday.Mah moves into fifth Ken Mah of Elk Grove, Calif., slid up to finish in the fifth position for the pros and collected $6,242 with a final total of 80 pounds, 13 ounces. He caught a nice limit weighing 19-3 Saturday. "Every morning I started out west throwing a crankbait, and then I'd leave the west with 16 to 19 pounds and come back here," he said. "With the wind we had all week, the conditions were just perfect to throw big baits." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers at the California Delta: 6th: Mike O'Shea of San Ramon, Calif., 79-7, $5,350 7th: Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., 79-5, $4,905 8th: Neil Campbell of Fallbrook, Calif., 77-6, $4,459 9th: Wayne Hinrichs of Novato, Calif., 76-6, $4,012 10th: Brett Davies of Davis, Calif., 73-1, $3,568 Coming up This concludes the 2007 Western Division season. Here are the final Pro Division season standings. The next Stren Series event is a Central Division contest at Columbus Pool near Columbus, Miss., June 6-9.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

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Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

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/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

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/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

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Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »