UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Lake Norman

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Out of sight

The top-10 pros and co-anglers prepare for their final Delta take-off.

STOCKTON, Calif. - It's often noted that, given the region's tidal fluctuations and fickle weather, you can't win a Cal Delta tournament solely by sight fishing. No doubt, that truism will resonate clearly with today's EverStart Series Western Division finalists.

After the first two mornings brought calm, sunny and warm conditions, the top-10 pros and co-anglers needed an extra layer of clothing for a day three launch that was a good 10 degrees cooler. With a cold front entering the Delta, streaky clouds muted the sunrise and a steady wind whipped the American flag posted on the FLW checkout boat. This meteorological lineup will make spotting fish difficult.

Additionally, today's tide schedule will find high water for the first several hours of fishing. MostContrasting the clear, calm conditions of the first two mornings, day three dawned with cool, windy weather and gathering clouds. anglers favor the outgoing tide, as it draws down the depth to afford a better look at any fish in the shallows. The dropping water also moves fish out of the deep reaches of Delta vegetation and positions them along the more accessible edges.

So, in short, the top-10 field will start their day with high water and cool, windy conditions. The early to mid-morning hours show the greatest promise for light penetration, but as the day progresses and the water falls, increasing cloudiness will likely dim the visibility.

That being said, today's finalists have a diverse array of strategies for maximizing their final shot at what remains a fish-rich Delta. A day before the event, a huge wave of spawning fish moved up to the shorelines. The changing weather has agitated many of these fish and disrupted their spawning movement. Some will pull back to deeper water and others may stick near the nests, but a straightforward bed-fishing day, this is not.

The top-five anglers shared their thoughts on today:

1st Place: Charlie Weyer, West Hills, Calif.
Top pro Charlie Weyer will try lighter line today in hopes of tempting bigger bites.Weyer took the early lead on day one with 32 pounds, 9 ounces, but a tougher day two yielded only 16-12 for him. Yesterday saw the beginning of the cold front's affects, so Weyer has had time to calculate what he needs to do today.

"I'm not going to be able to see them as well to find new fish, but I still have about 20-30 fish on beds that I haven't been able to catch, so I'll just be blind casting to them,
Weyer said. "One thing I'm going to do is switch to lighter line and get farther away from them. I've been fishing with 15-pound fluorocarbon or 65-pound braid and today I'm going to fish 10-pound fluorocarbon."

Weyer will mostly fish dropshots with Robo Worms, but he'll throw lipless and shallow running crankbaits early to try and trigger a reaction bite in the deeper water. Later, he'll work a spot where he saw a hefty bed fish on day two.

"I'm going to go back to my big-fish spot because there's on in there that's bigger than the (10-pound, 10-ounce bass) I caught on day one," he said. "I'm just going to go in there with lighter line and pray. If she bites, I'll be chasing her for 10 minutes."

2nd Place: Sean Minderman of Spokane, Wash.
Turning in two bags of 20-plus, Minderman has been one of the most consistent of the top-10. He'll stickStarting today in second place, Sean Minderman is confident that he can find fish in protected areas. with the same unweighted Senkos and heavily-weighted Sweet Beaver he fished yesterday. Minderman said the wind won't be a significant deterrent for him.

"The wind may affect some of the areas, but I have a lot of water to fish so I'll just move around and try to use the wind to my advantage," he said. "You can go way south to get away from the wind, or into the marinas."

"Every day is different here and it's constantly changing. The fish may move from a foot of water to three feet of water. You just have to start your day with a fresh mind and start putting together your pattern. Once you start catching fish, just keep adjusting."

3rd Place: Mark Casey, of Fairfield, Calif.
California pro Mark Casey, who reached the top-10 with a big day two improvement, hopes the wacky-rigged Senko delivers again on day three.Casey's 29-pound, 6-ounce catch was the heaviest of day two and the second largest of the event. This big limit pushed him up from 27th place to third.

"I'm kind of in shock; I wasn't expecting to catch 29 pounds yesterday," he said. "I was thinking that if I got lucky, I could get 20. I got lucky with one big fish yesterday and ended up with 29. I think there are more big fish in my area because I saw them cruising around. Hopefully, I can get them today."

Casey will stick with the baits he threw on day two: A 7-inch wacky-rigged Senko and a Sweet Beaver on a 2 1/2-ounce punch rig. He said the Senko has produced the majority of his fish.

4th Place: Clifford Pirch, of Payson, Ariz.
Pirch also broke 20 pounds on days one and two, so he's confident he can locate big-fish areas.Arizona pro Clifford Pirch said working with the wind will be the key to his day three success. Today, he'll move around as necessary to work areas that are best for the current conditions.

"I'll have to play the wind angle," he said. "Fortunately, I have areas in which I can adjust for about three different wind directions, so hopefully I can make those adjustments."

Pirch has been working a variety of spawn baits, with a dropshot and a weightless worm accounting for most of his action. "Depending on the wind, it could take the weightless worm out of the picture. Other than that, I'll probably stick with the same baits. If I can find some protection from the wind, we'll do what we can."

Pirch said he might try a swimbait to tempt a big fish in the windy conditions.

5th Place: Stephen "Bub" Tosh, Jr., of Modesto, Calif.
Fifth place pro Stephen Tosh Jr said itA Delta veteran, Tosh said a day-to-day approach is the wisest strategy for this fishery: "If you want to catch them out here, you must have a short memory. Every day is different with that tide and today is very windy."

A devout punching enthusiast, Tosh said the windy conditions may play into his favor. He rarely wants to look at fish anyway, so if he can find fish stacked under weed mats, he's golden. Tosh will use punch hooks, 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weights, punch skirts and a prototype craw bait from his Paycheck Baits company.

"I think the sight-fishing game is done," Tosh said. "I hope the fish all move to the weeds instead of staying on the bank. I'll just keep punching until that doesn't work and then I'll scramble and try something different."

Logistics

Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Weber Point Event Center, located at 221 North Center Street, Stockton, Calif. The weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. is free and open to the public.Swimbaits may trigger some of the big fish to bite, especially on high tide.

Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with 200-horsepower outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on Kentucky Lake in Buchanan, Tenn., Oct. 27-30.

The EverStart Series tournament on the California Delta is being hosted by the Stockton Sports Commission.

Saturday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:08 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 50 degrees
Expected high temperature: 78 degrees
Wind: WSW 10-20 mph
Humidity: 30 percent
Day's outlook: Cloudy

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

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