March 31, 2012 by David A. Brown
OAKLEY, Calif. - When a co-angler whacks a sack of fish heavier than most of the pros - in the challenging conditions of a severely windy day, no less - it's not surprising that said co-angler fares well. Such was the tale of James Tate, who topped the FLW EverStart Series Western Division tournament on the California Delta.
The Calabasas, Calif. co-angler started day three in third place, but a limit catch of 23 pounds, 6 ounces quickly moved him to the front of his field and there he'd stay to capture the title with a 57-pound, 5-ounce total and a hefty margin of 5-15. Tate's winning catch was anchored by a chunky bass estimated at 10 pounds.
"I started out with a dropshot and made a cast and said 'Look at that one tule in my way' and DONK - big fish," Tate said. "We got that fish in and then it started blowing like crazy so what else can I do, but pick up a crankbait. I caught a couple good ones on that; caught another one on the dropshot and that was the day."
Tate was the only co-angler to break 20 pounds on day three.
Elliott slips to second
Day-two leader Tom Elliott, of Downey, Calif. dropped one notch in the final round to finish second with 51-6. Elliott caught his fish by capitalizing on reaction bites with a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap crankbait and balancing his day with finesse presentations, specifically a 7-inch Robo Worm (margarita mutilator).
Elliott said he caught fish throughout the day, but the rough weather increased the challenge level. "The wind made it difficult to fish. It made casting and boat positioning more difficult."
Nourot improves to third
Nick Nourot, of Benicia, Calif. got off to a strong start with a 23-pound, 14-ounce bag on day one and then remained near to the top of the co-angler division with a fourth-place effort on day two and, ultimately a third-place finish in the final round. His tournament total was 45-5.
Nourot described his bait selection as: "Senkos, Senkos and more Senkos and then I had a big fish (approximately 8 pounds) on a Berkley Crazy Legs Chigger Craw."
Limbrick Jr., Au take fourth, fifth
Carl Limbrick Jr., of Bonita, Calif., caught a limit weighing 12 pounds and improved from sixth to fourth with a total weight of 42-11. Tai Au, of Gilbert, Ariz., made the biggest move of the day by shooting up five spots from 10th to fifth with 42-8.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Cal Delta event:
6th: Travis Moran, of Reno, Nev., 41-3
7th: Ryan Bottini, of Benicia, Calif., 41-1
8th: Brandon Marcis, of Tempe, Ariz., 40-9
9th: Daniel Leue, of Colusa, Calif., 38-4
10th: Gayle Janes, of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., 35-14