OAKLEY, Calif. – Pro Nick Salvucci of Atascadero, California, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces to win the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at the California Delta Presented by Psycho Tuna and earn the top payout of $24,795. Salvucci’s three day total of 15 bass weighing 54-10 earned him the victory over Elk Grove, California pro Ken Mah, who weighed in 15 bass totaling 51-12 to finish second and earn $9,608.
Salvucci overcame tough fishing conditions to get the win. An influx of cold, muddy water made large portions of the Delta unfishable and put the bass in a funk. Some pre-tournament chatter predicted the winning three-day weight would fall in the mid-40s. While Salvucci easily surpassed that mark, he thinks the slow bite actually worked to his advantage. He believes it suited his stubborn nature.
“I like tough bites, because I can go hours without getting a bite throwing the same lure,” he said.
That’s what he did this week. Salvucci said every one of the bass he weighed in ate a spinnerbait with double Colorado blades and a 4.3-inch Keitech swimbait trailer. He did his damage on the southern end of the Delta — an area he said he has rarely fished in the past. But by covering a ton of water during the two-day practice period (he estimates he burned 80 gallons of fuel total) Salvucci found a few stretches of cleaner water with submerged hydrilla patches near riprap banks and tules.
“I was looking for hydrilla grass clumps up against tules and up against the riprap,” he said. “A lot of them were right where the tules went to the riprap, it made that ambush point. That’s where I’d catch them.”
After declaring on Thursday evening that he would do something different on the tournament’s final day, Salvucci set out to do just that, throwing a double-bladed buzzbait in search of a big bite in the morning. Eventually, though, he returned to the area where he’d had success on Day 1, when he landed a 22-5 limit.
The first fish that bit his spinnerbait wrapped his line around “the one standing stick” in the area and came unhooked. He didn’t get another bite until about 9:30 a.m., he said, before catching three fish in less than an hour, including two over 3 pounds. When noon arrived with no more bites, he returned to the spot where he’d missed the big fish and caught his largest bass of the day, a 4½-pound largemouth. He credited fellow competitor and former Bass Pro Tour angler Ish Monroe for helping put that fish in the boat.
“I didn’t do any trailer hooks, and then I was talking to Ish last night, and he was throwing a spinnerbait, and he told me he caught two 4-pounders on his trailer hook,” Salvucci explained. “So I put a trailer hook on last night, and I ended up catching my big one on the trailer hook.”
Salvucci added another fish over 2 pounds to his livewell shortly thereafter, which improved his bag by about half a pound. But, he still believed he needed another big bite to take first place. His goal for the day, after all, was 22 pounds. So he spent the final hour of the day punching mats, to no avail. Salvucci returned to the boat ramp discouraged.
“I said, well, I blew my chance,” Salvucci said. “Came in with my 15 pounds thinking I was going to get my butt kicked. And I guess it was a tougher day than I expected.”
The Top 10 pros on the California Delta finished:
1st: Nick Salvucci, Atascadero, Calif., 15 bass, 54-10, $24,795
2nd: Ken Mah, Elk Grove, Calif., 15 bass, 51-12, $9,608
3rd: Nicholas Cloutier, Oakley, Calif., 14 bass, 48-14, $7,438
4th: Ty Faber, Pagosa Springs, Colo., 15 bass, 47-3, $6,199
5th: Nick Nourot, Benicia, Calif., 13 bass, 46-9, $5,579
6th: Mark Lassagne, Dixon, Calif., 11 bass, 42-10, $5,759
7th: Hunter Schlander, Modesto, Calif., 15 bass, 42-7, $4,339
8th: Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., 12 bass, 39-1, $3,719
9th: David Valdivia, Riverside, Calif., 13 bass, 38-3, $3,099
10th: Kyle Grover, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., 15 bass, 38-2, $2,479
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Pro Patrick Touey of Santa Maria, California, won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Wednesday with a bass weighing 8 pounds, 14 ounces. On Thursday, Lassagne earned the $500 Berkley Big Bass prize after bringing a monster 10-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass to the scale.
Casey Dunn of North Highlands, California, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Friday with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 35 pounds, 11 ounces. Dunn took home the top co-angler prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers on the California Delta finished:
1st: Casey Dunn, North Highlands, Calif., 10 bass, 35-11, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd: Tom White, Tustin, Calif., 10 bass, 25-7, $3,218
3rd: Turner Mason, Windsor, Colo., nine bass, 22-11, $2,574
4th: Rachel Uribe, San Diego, Calif., five bass, 21-9, $2,327
5th: Anthony Delgado, Cerritos, Calif., 10 bass, 20-12, $1,931
6th: Matthew Greene, Amherst, Va., nine bass, 19-9, $1,609
7th: Bruce Harris, Oakdale, Calif., eight bass, 19-2, $1,287
8th: Jordan Padilla, Concord, Calif., six bass, 19-2, $1,126
9th: Marcus Maestre, Santa Clara, Calif., six bass, 18-10, $1,040
10th: Kevin Gross, Redding, Calif., seven bass, 18-2, $804
Uribe and Maestre each earned a share of Wednesday’s $150 Berkley Big Bass award as both weighed in 6-pound, 10-ounce bass to split the prize, while the Day 2 $150 award went to winner Casey Dunn with a 7-pound, 11-ounce fish.
With two regular-season events in the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse now complete, Nick Salvucci of Atascadero, California, leads the Western Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 508 points, while Bruce Harris of Oakdale, California, leads the Strike King Co-angler Division AOY race with 509 points.
The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at the California Delta Presented by Psycho Tuna was hosted by the City Oakley. It was the second of three regular-season events for the Toyota Series Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will be the Toyota Series at Lewis Smith Lake, March 21-23, in Cullman, Alabama. For a complete schedule of events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2024. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2023 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 2-4 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, and is hosted by ExploreBranson.com.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Toyota Series include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Gill, Grundéns, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.