UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Fortunes rise and fall

Fortunes rise and fall
Rusty Salewske spent most of his day punching and caught enough to take over the pro lead.

OAKLEY, Calif. - Day two of the Walmart FLW Series National Guard Western Division event in Oakley, Calif., saw big changes - and we're most certainly NOT referring to the tide.

Those who understand the fish-stimulating benefits of current like to see steep peaks in their tide charts. This means swift water movement during the change from high tide to low tide, and vice versa. Today, the California Delta tide charts looked more like gopher mounds. Read: Putzing current.

The morning saw decent incoming movement, but when the water turned, it moved like Jell-O sliding down an iceberg. Not surprisingly, most of the bigger fish bit in the morning, so those who missed thePunching vegetation with soft plastics and heavy weights has been the most common tactic for Delta anglers. early opportunities struggled the rest of the day. A few saw late-day spurts when the afternoon tide started its rise, but the window of opportunity was brief - make that nonexistent for anglers in early flights.

As for standings, the Pro Division top 10 took a major shuffling with some making major advancements, some taking major tumbles and a couple staying consistent. On day one four pros caught more than 20 pounds. Of that quartet, only one remains in the top 10. That's fourth-place pro Charlie Weyer, who dropped a notch from third. Day-one leader Bryan Roland of Brentwood, Calif. slipped to 12th with 7 pounds, 5 ounces, while yesterday's second-place pro, Gene Gray of Atascadero, Calif., managed just 3-12 and fell to 22nd. Nicholas Kanemoto of Elk Grove, Calif., blanked today and tumbled from fourth to 43rd.

On the other extreme, a handful of pros put the pedal to the metal and raced up the list with big day-two performances. The award for most improved goes to Chris Zaldain of San Jose, Calif., who took 55th place Punching a heavy weed mat in front of a dock produced the dayon day one with a 9-pound, 2-ounce bag, but turned around and blasted into eighth with a 24-6 effort - thus far the biggest bag of the tournament. Ken Mah of Elk Grove, Calif., rose 18 spots from 24th to sixth, while Ronald Hobbs Jr. climbed from 22nd to ninth.

On top of the Pro Division is Alpine, Calif., pro Rusty Salewske, who recently represented the West in his fifth-place finish at the Forrest Wood Cup in Pittsburgh. Rising seven spots from eighth place on day one (17 pounds, 13 ounces), Salewske caught the day's heaviest limit - a 22-14 effort that yielded a total of 40-11 and a 3-pound, 5-ounce lead over second place.

The day got off to a slow start for Salewske, as his livewell held only one fish at 11 a.m. Fortunately, the midday period offered better productivity. "The key is to never stop fishing. I could have quit several times today, but I went from down and out to as happy as I could be in about an hour."

Salewske threw a crankbait early, but found most of his success punching weeds with a Texas-rigged Sweet Beaver and an ounce to an ounce and a half weight. "I don't think I'm doing anything different (than everyone else). I just found an area where there are a lot of good ones."

Flipping king Thomas takes second

He rose from 17th to second and put his partner on enough fish to maintain the co-angler lead. SoundsDelta flipping legend Dee Thomas struggled with slow current, but gained 15 places to second. like Brentwood, Calif., pro Dee Thomas found what he was seeking. His day-two limit of 21 pounds, 3 ounces paired with a day-one weight of 16-3 yielded a total of 37-6.

Known as the "father of flipping," Thomas employed his self-styled strategy, but he did so knowing that it wasn't going to be a day of high numbers.

"Fishing's really tough right now, so all I'm doing is fishing for five bites, one at a time," Thomas said. "I got eight bites today, I lost two fish, and you can see what the results are from six fish."

Thomas targeted tule points skirted by weeds. He's confident in the spots he's fishing, but better tidal conditions would make the areas even more productive. "You have to have a certain amount of current, or the fish won't be there. The water is so hot right now, when they get in those backwater areas, the temperature can get up to 77 to 78 degrees, and the fish don't eat good.

"With the current, it's down around 73 degrees, and they're still active there. If I had some hard-running current, I could get a bigger bag."

Hite hangs in for third

Finding a particular pattern in a small canal, Brett Hite improved to third.A year and a half after winning the FLW Series event on the Cal Delta in March 2008, Phoenix pro Brett Hite finds himself in serious contention for another Delta title. Starting day two in 15th place with 16-5, Hite sacked up a nice limit weighing 20-3 and marched up the standings 12 spots to third.

Hite caught his biggest fish in the morning by flipping a green-pumpkin Gary Yamamoto Flappin Hog. He worked the rest of the day with a Phoenix ChatterBait-style lure with a 4-inch green-pumpkin Yamamoto Swimming Senko trailer - the same bait he used in his 2008 victory.

"I had a great practice for this time of year; I was on fish from the first day," Hite said. "I have one canal all to myself, and it's loaded with 2 1/2- to 4-pounders."

Best of the rest

Ricky Shabazz of Rialto, Calif., follows Weyer in the standings with a fifth-place total of 34-15.Despite a slow day two, Charlie Weyer only dropped one spot to fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the FLW Series Cal Delta event:

6th: Ken Mah of Elk Grove, Calif., 34-3
7th: Brian Carpenter of Livermore, Calif., 33-11
8th: Chris Zaldain of San Jose, Calif., 33-8
9th: Ronald Hobbs Jr. of Orting, Wa., 33-4
10th: Ishama Monroe of Hughson, Calif., 32-15

Orinda, Calif., pro Jason Cordiale rocked the Folgers Big Bass contest with his chunky 9-pounder worth $293.

Wright retains top spot in Co-angler Division

Downsizing to finesse worms kept JR Wright in the co-angler lead.J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., employed his new-found punching skills on day one to take the early lead in the Co-angler Division. Today he found equal success by downsizing to 8-pound line and flipping a Texas-rigged Roboworm in the Margarita Mutilator color. No doubt, that was a good move, as Wright bolstered his position by adding 17 pounds, 12 ounces to his 13-13 from day one for a 31-9 total that kept him in the top spot.

Best of the rest

Dean Ziemer of Tracy, Calif., took second with 26-1, and Robert Faaborg of Ramona, Calif., was third with 25-7. Tracy Patton of Oakdale, Calif., placed fourth with 21-1, and Hideki Maeda of Osaka, Japan, finished fifth at 20-15.

Rounding out the top 10 co-angler leaders at the Walmart FLW Series National Guard Western event:Jack Farage caught the top co-angler bass, a 7-pound, 6-ounce largemouth.

6th: John Niedosik of Avondale, Ariz., 20-8
7th: Gary Haraguchi of Brentwood, Calif., 19-13
8th: Gayle Janes of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., 19-4
9th: Brian Carnahan of Flagstaff, Ariz., 18-9
10th: Mike Iloski of Escondido, Calif., 18-4

Folgers Big Bass honors and $195 went to Jack Farage of Discovery Bay, Calif., who caught a 7-pound, 6-ounce largemouth.

Day two of FLW Series action on the California Delta continues at Friday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. PT at Russo's Marina located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island, Calif.

Tags: david-a-brown  headline-story  2009-09-23-california-delta 

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