Stafford leads Stren Series event on California Delta - Major League Fishing

Stafford leads Stren Series event on California Delta

May 3, 2006 • MLF • Archives

SHASTA LAKE, Calif. – Ranger pro Sean Stafford of Fairfield, Calif., caught the second-heaviest five-bass limit in Stren Series history Wednesday to lead the circuit’s Western Division tournament presented by Yamaha on the California Delta with an incredible 33 pounds, 9 ounces. The only limit heavier – weighing 34-4 – was caught by pro Ricky Scott of Van Buren, Ark., on Lake Amistad in Texas earlier this season.

“This place is so amazing,” Stafford said. “I had all my fish by nine and just went looking for a bigger bite the rest of the day.”

Stafford is no stranger to the Delta. He has two fifth-place finishes on the phenomenal fishery. His first came in 2000 as a co-angler fishing the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and his second came last year during his second pro appearance in the Stren Series.

“I found my fish on beds at low tide during practice,” he said. “The tide was high today, so I just stayed back and threw to them. I used braided line and tungsten weights so I could feel when the bait was in their nest. The key is to have confidence in what you are doing.”

Confidence may be an understatement considering what Stafford has his sights on for tomorrow.

“I found a fish that probably weighs 15 pounds,” he said. “I took my co-angler there today just to see if she would bite, and she did. I let her spit it out and hopefully I can catch her tomorrow.”

A 15-pound bass would be a new FLW Outdoors record.

Rounding out the top five pros are Gary Collins of Paradise, Calif. (five bass, 26 pounds, 8 ounces); Donald Davis of Discovery Bay, Calif. (five bass, 25 pounds, 5 ounces); Jon Strelic of Alpine, Calif. (five bass, 23 pounds, 11 ounces); and Neil Russell of Nampa, Idaho (five bass, 23 pounds, 6 ounces).

Shawn Milligan of Roseville, Calif., earned $725 for the Snicker’s Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to an 11-pound, 7-ounce largemouth bass.

Pros are competing for as much as $64,500 and valuable points that could qualify them for a trip to the $1 million Stren Series Championship for a shot at $140,000. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the Stren Series Championship will also earn a spot in the new $2 million 2007 Forrest Wood Cup where they will compete against top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and Ranger owners’ tournaments for bass fishing’s first $1 million top award.

Roy Desmangles Jr. of Lincoln, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award worth as much as $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. He caught five bass weighing 22 pounds, 12 ounces while fishing with pro Kent Brown of Roseville, Calif.

“Kent was the consummate gentleman, and I appreciate everything he did for me,” said Desmangles, who is fishing in just his fifth FLW Outdoors tournament. “He knows the Delta well and put us on the fish.”

Desmangles used a variety of baits and tactics to land his impressive limit.

“I threw rip-baits, topwater baits, swimbaits and even finesse worms,” he said. “This is a tidal fishery, what works one minute, won’t work the next. You have to lay out a menu for these fish.”

Desmangles landed a 9-pound, 10-ounce bass using a finesse worm tied to 6-pound test line, a combination that usually works to the bass’ advantage.

“When you hook up on a fish that size on 6-pound line, you just have to hope she comes back out the hole she went in,” he said. “Fortunately, she jumped out of the tulles and headed for open water. I just kept the pressure on and waited.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Jim Tatum of Bishop, Calif. (five bass, 21 pounds, 5 ounces); Allen Vance of Mineral, Wash. (five bass, 20 pounds, 5 ounces); Kirk Beardsley of Huntington Beach, Calif. (five bass, 16 pounds, 11 ounces); and Brad Lewis of Redding, Calif. (five bass, 16 pounds, 2 ounces).

Tatum earned $245 for the Snicker’s Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 10-pound, 5-ounce bass.

Anglers will take off from Russo’s Marina in Bethel Island at 6 each morning. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held at the marina, which is located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island beginning at 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4893 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, Calif., beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of three rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday and Thursday, and the top 20 pros and co-anglers – based on two-day accumulated weights – advance to day three. Anglers start at zero Thursday and compete for 10 spots in each division in the final round. Winners are determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.

Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Stratos Owners’ Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $37.9 million through 249 events in 2006.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit or call (270) 252-1000.

Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit