OAKLEY, Calif. – He said he struggled, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the 8-pound, 8-ounce lead that Oakley, Calif., pro Mike Andrews holds after two days of Stren Series Western Division action on the California Delta.
After blowing away the competition on day one with 36 pounds, 3 ounces – the heaviest stringer in Stren Series history – Andrews brought another 24 pounds to the scale and recorded a two-day total of 60 pounds, 3 ounces. No doubt pleased to retain his lead, Andrews said day two brought a greater challenge than day one, in which he caught 5-pound fish on practically every spot.
“This morning, conditions were similar to day one – we had some of that haze and the wind came up,” he said. “I thought with conditions being (close to) the same, I’ll catch at least half of what I caught yesterday, but I didn’t even get that. It was definitely tougher today.”
The combination of increased fishing pressure, extreme heat reaching over 100 degrees and day one’s winds stirring up several of his prime spots drastically reduced Andrew’s overall productivity. Forced to put in a lot of time running from spot to spot, Andrews caught his weight fish on wakebaits, Senkos, ChatterBaits and crankbaits. The latter, he said, has proven exceptionally productive this spring since much of the common weeds have died.
“We had a really cold, muddy winter, so those weeds didn’t get the sunlight and temperature they needed to grow,” Andrews explained. “A lot of the rock banks are void of weeds. You used to have to fish them with frogs or topwater baits. On the banks that are clean, I’m throwing crankbaits, and on the banks with weeds, I’m throwing the ChatterBait because it’s pretty weedless.”
Thompson up to second
In second place, Orinda, Calif., pro Zack Thompson moved up three notches with a limit weighing 24-4 and a total of 51-11. Hinging his success on a particular tactical feature borne of local knowledge, Thompson was mum on lure specifics, but said he was fishing reaction baits and down baits.
He said water movement was central to his strategy: “It’s tide-related, so I just try to get on one of my spots when the tide is working in the right direction, catch a few and then wait until I can get to another spot where the fish are biting again. It’s just a matter of waiting for some water to move and being in the right place at the right time.”
Thompson said that during slack tide, he targets various turn breaks where lag times between tide schedules finds water moving around points. “If you keep moving around, you can find moving water.”
Zipton flips way to third
Jeremy Zipton of Discovery Bay, Calif., improved on his eighth-place finish of day one by weighing 24 pounds, 9 ounces and grabbing third place with a 49-15 total. Zipton caught his fish by flipping jigs and wacky-rigged Senkos around tules.
Rest of the best
Timothy Venkus of Wilton, Calif., slipped one spot to fourth with 49-10, while 18-year-old Hunter Schlander of Modesto, Calif., gained two spots to fifth with 49-3.
Dugan McIntosh of Palermo, Calif., collected Snickers Big Bass honors with his 10-pound, 3-ounce fish.
6th: Kyle Porter, Acampo, Calif., 47-3
7th: Chris Raza, Roseville, Calif., 45-8
8th: Chris Zaldain, San Jose, Calif. 44-13
9th: Gene Gray, Atascadero, Calif. 43-8
10th: Beau Joudrey, Oakland, Calif., 42-14
Reitz rocks with nearly a 4-pound co-angler lead
Aaron Reitz of Soda Springs, Calif., traded his trusty drop-shot for a ChatterBait and caught a limit weighing 22 pounds, 4 ounces to take the co-angler lead with a two-day total of 38-4. Working rip-rap edges, Reitz and his pro partner found a blazing bite when they got on a pile of fish feeding heavily ahead of the incoming tide.
Maintaining a sharp mental focus, even in stifling heat, was the key to success for Reitz. “I’m just trying to work hard and stay positive. I only caught seven fish today, but obviously they were the right ones.”
Peak climbs to second
Rest of the best
Dean Krambeck of Vandenberg AFB, Calif., sits in third with 33-13; fourth place went to Tony Gold of El Dorado Hills, Calif., who had 32-13; and Joseph Bricker of Pleasanton, Calif., finished fifth with 32-7.
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the Stren Series California Delta event:
6th: Roy Desmangles Jr., Lincoln, Calif., 31-2
7th: Quin Smith, Galt, Calif, 31-0
8th: Craig Taylor, Olympia, WA, 31-0
9th: Randy Bruno, Huntington Beach, Calif., 31-0
10th: David Koehler, Galt, Calif., 30-10
Tom Goldston of Garnerville, Nev. caught the biggest bass on the co-angler side, a 9-13 that ate a wacky-rigged Senko near an old broken down dock.
Day three of Stren Series action on the California Delta continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. CDT at at Russo’s Marina located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island, Calif.