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Weyer’s wide open in Cal Delta

Weyer’s wide open in Cal Delta
California pro Charlie Weyer was the only competior to break 30 pounds on day one.

STOCKTON, Calif. - OK, the cliche police are going to have to look the other way on this one, because the phrase "what a difference a day makes" fits perfectly for the opening round of the EverStart Series Western Division event on the California Delta.

Throughout the practice days preceding this tournament, anglers well-heeled in Delta fishing had been doing the dark-to-dark regimen with very little reward for their efforts. Now sure, eliminating water is a big part of practice, but several competitors reported three or more days of painfully low productivity. But then came Wednesday, May 4 - one of those light-switch kind of days when things change in a big way.

That change was a huge wave of big spawn-ready female bass; a movement of profound proportions that, by all reports, seemed to occur on yesterday afternoon's incoming tide. Much to the delight of anglers, who as recently as 24 hours earlier had bemoaned a stingy Delta, this movement transformed a lot of sparsely populated areas into largemouth maternity wards.

Given the Cal Delta's vastness, it was commonly expected that anglers could find fish in all three phases of their spawning cycle - prespawners staging along the edges, fish on beds and postspawners recuperating in deep water. Until yesterday afternoon, the middle stage was hard to come by, but day one of the tournament brought a new look with the potential for big sacks. Indeed, 15 anglers broke the 20-pound mark, with West Hills, Calif., pro Charlie Weyer claiming the top spot with 32 pounds, 9 ounces.Charlie Weyer

The only angler to break 30 pounds, Weyer holds a 4-pound, 8-ounce lead heading into day two. Buoying his effort was a massive 10-pound, 10-ounce fish that earned Big Bass honors and $254.

Having spent a lot of practice time running and looking, he had located several big fish late yesterday afternoon and went right to work on day one. This morning's high tide kept a lot of fish hidden until the water started falling. However, that didn't impede Weyer's strategy.

"There were fish I marked in practice, so I blind-cast to them because I knew they were there," he said. "If I was up looking for them, I'd be able to catch them, but I stay off of them because it's easier to catch them that way.

The 20-pound mark extended to fifteenth place - occupied by Arizona pro Ron Colby."I caught two fish in the first 10 minutes - that 10-pounder and a 5 - and I lost one about 6. I ran around and tried to find new fish, and then I ran to where I saw them in practice, backed way off and caught them when the tide went down. I was just blind-casting to them."

Weyer said he covered a lot of water today from the central to northern parts of the Delta. He hit 70 to 80 spots and caught fish on about 30 percent of his stops. His was an aggressive strategy designed to hit quick and stay mobile.

"I put the trolling motor down, and I was fishing fast," Weyer said. "You can't sit in one area. You have to keep moving because once you catch fish in an area, it's done."

Weyer, who's no stranger to punching heavy rigs through dense cover, used weightless and lightly weighted plastics - mostly Roboworms and Yamamoto baits. He was pitching his baits into tule pockets with a particular complement of vegetation.

Byrd's combines jig and dropshot for second

Moab, Utah, pro Benjamin Byrd sacked up a strong limit of 28-1 to take the second-place spot. TargetingSecond place pro Ben Byrd tempted his fish with a football head jig and then closed the deal with a dropshot. bed-fish in tule pockets, he pitched a 1/2-ounce Rippin Lips football-head jig to get the fish agitated and followed up with a drop-shot to close the sale.

"I was seeing every fish I caught," Byrd said. "I don't think color really mattered. Once I got them worked up with that jig, you could have thrown anything in there. You could have dipped your toe in there, and they would have bit it.

"I caught one 5-pounder on the jig. The rest wouldn't commit to it - they'd just circle it. I think if I had worked it longer, they would have eaten it, but once I saw them getting agitated enough, I'd follow it up with a little bait."

Byrd said the Wednesday afternoon movement clearly impacted his performance. "That bank was good before. I was catching (2- and 3-pound fish), but then that wave moved up yesterday and I started seeing big ones."

Stafford punches into third

Punching mats produced a third place sack for Sean Stafford.Weighing in the first flight, California pro Sean Stafford was the first angler to break 20 pounds. He did so with a limit of 27-7 that landed him in third place.

Working the Delta's west side, Stafford caught his fish by punching thick mats with brown Reaction Innovations Double Wide Beavers. He boated eight keepers today.

"I had been struggling lately, but yesterday I got a little clue as to where I should go and what I should do," he said. "I started this morning and didn't do that, and after two hours of not having a fish for the fourth day in a row, I just put away everything I had been doing and just started punching."

Tosh takes fourth

Stephen "Bub" Tosh stuck with his bread-and-butter baits and served up a 27-pound, 4-ounce limit that put him inWhile many punchers targeted pennywort mats, fourth place pro Stephen Tosh worked submerged hydrilla beds. fourth place. Tosh caught one fish on his Paycheck Baits Transporter Frog and bagged the rest of his limit by punching his new Psycho Dad plastic on a 4/0 hook with a Paycheck Baits Punch Skirt and an ounce and a half punch weight.

"A lot of guys are catching bed-fish, but they go away once you catch them," Tosh said. "I'm just fishing - I'm not looking at them. I'm avoiding the sight-fishing completely because that's what everybody's trying to do, and I didn't want to compete with them on that."

Tosh noted that he's foregoing the common punching targets - pennywort mats - in favor of submerged hydrilla. "I think a lot of guys are punching pennywort and looking for mats they can see. The grass I'm punching, you can't really see until the tide is about halfway out. You have to know it's there."

Pirch places fifth

Working tules with a variety of plastics led Arizona Pro Clifford Pirch to a fifth place performance on day one.Fresh off an FLW Tour win on Lake Chickamauga, Arizona pro Cliff Pirch sacked up a limit that weighed 26-8 and claimed the No. 5 spot on day one. Pirch used a selection of what he described as "good spawn tools" - creature baits and weightless worms.

"I just fished spawning fish. I got to see a few of them that I caught, but most of them were blind-fishing," he said. "I was just casting at those light spots, and I had a good day."

Best of the rest

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

6th: Ken Mah of Elk Grove, Calif., 25-4
7th: Vu Au of Tucson, Ariz., 23-8
8th: Michael C. Tuck of Granite Bay, Calif., 23-6
9th: Sean Minderman of Spokane, Wash., 22-14
10th: Steve Geffs of Antelope, Calif., 21-15

Frogs and worms put Baker in co-angler lead

Kyle Baker of Lancaster, Calif., took the lead in the Co-angler Division with a limit weight of 16-13.
A mix of Snagproof Bobby's Perfect frogs and Texas-rigged Senkos in watermelon-candy delivered thCo-angler leader Kyle Baker sacked up a limit weighing 16-13.e best.

"When I was near mats, I threw the frog, and when I was in open water, I threw worms," he said. "With the worms, I just fished it really slow. You just hope it lands on a bed and a fish eats it."

Best of the rest

Mike Chen of Stockton, Calif., tied for first place, also with 16-13, while Jared Frantzich of Sacramento, Calif., placed third with 16-11. Fourth place went to Trevor Young of Fontana, Calif., and Phil Risnes of Hartford, S.D., was fifth with 15-10.

Rounding out the top 10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Cal Delta event:

6th: Lester Albury of Temecula, Calif., 14-8
7th: Chris Hughes of Orangevale, Calif., 14-3
8th: Toshiyuki Tanokura of Tokyo, Japan, 14-1
9th: Greig Sniffen of Saratoga, Calif., 13-12
10th: Matthew Nadeau of Grass Valley, Calif., 13-10

Steven Cook took the Big Bass award and $169 on the co-angler side with a 6-12.

Day two of EverStart Series Western Division action on the Cal Delta continues at Friday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. Pacific at the Weber Point Event Center, located at 221 North Center Street, Stockton, Calif.

Tags: david-a-brown  headline-story  2011-05-05-california-delta 

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