Two heavy-hitting days buoyed Gregory Troughton to a 6-pound, 11-ounce lead going into a tough day three in the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. The Discovery Bay, Calif., pro stumbled in the final round with a limit of 12-13, but outlasted the field and secured the win with 60-2.
Click here to read the full details of Troughton’s winning pattern.
Read on to learn about the rest of the top 10.
2. Barrack goes big
Coming into day three in seventh place, Bobby Barrack knew he had a lot of ground to make up, so he pulled out all the stops and sacked up 19-3 – the final round’s heaviest bag – to end up finishing runner-up with 53-7.
A longtime Delta fixture, Barrack recently relocated to Maud, Texas, but flew out west to fish his home away from home.
“September is the trickiest month out here; it’s transition time,” Barrack says. “The nights are getting longer. The water temperature is lower in the morning. Knowing that, I started deep today [Saturday] with a jig.
“The first bite I got was a 5 1/2-pounder, and I thought, ‘OK, here we go.’ But it was just one here, one there.”
After running out of patience at his first stop, Barrack made a 38-mile run to a promising area that delivered a 5, then a 3 1/2 before he lost a difference-maker. He worked both his main spots with a two-pronged attack using a frog and a punch bait. He also threw a 1/2-ounce Dandy Baits Football Jig. Stroking the jig proved most effective.
3. Monroe punches his way to third
Fishing his first Delta event in more than a year, California pro Ish Monroe turned in a consistent performance with limit catches of 15-14, 18-9 and 18-8. His efforts landed him in third place with 52-15.
Monroe caught most of his fish punching a Missile Baits D Bomb with a 4/0 River2Sea New Jack Flippin Hook and a River2Sea Trash Bomb tungsten weight. He used 1- and 1 1/2-ounce weights and added a Bub Tosh Paycheck Baits punch skirt with the latter for larger profile.
Specific tackle, Monroe says, was essential to his success, including using the Daiwa Tatula Elite Ish Monroe punch rod.
“You want something high speed, but not too high. When you get those fish bowed up in that mat, if you have a reel with a gear ratio that’s too high, you can’t turn the handle,” Monroe says. “It’s kind of like going up a hill [in a car]. You want to kick it in low gear, but then when you’re going down the hill you want it in high gear.”
4. Mah punches, glides and buzzes
Before the tournament, Elk Grove, Calif., pro Ken Mah predicted a winning weight of about 51 pounds, so he was admittedly surprised to find himself in fourth place after tallying 52-12.
Despite solid limits and a few fish in the 5- to 6-pound range, Mah couldn’t locate those Delta giants so necessary for a winning bag.
“I fish here a lot, and I just wasn’t getting the big bites,” he says. “Greg [Troughton] got two 7-pound bites and a 9-pound bite. Jerred Jennings got three 7s, and that’s why they were 1 and 2 going into day three.”
5. Jennings frogs, fishes on top
Stockton, Calif., pro Jerred Jennings took the early lead with a day-one bag that weighed 22-11, but yielded a spot after Troughton’s huge day-two catch overshadowed what was, in fairness, a strong second-round catch of 17-15. Unfortunately, day three confounded Jennings, and a small limit of 10-10 moved him back to fifth with 51-4.
“I kept a punch rod in my hand about 80 percent of the time, but I was able to get some fish on a buzzbait and some fish on a frog,” Jennings says. “It’s typical September out here: Your bigger fish are going to come in the grass or in the mats, and if you get lucky, you get one on topwater.
“The tide got later every day, and I knew I’d struggle the last day. I fished some areas that I’d fished in practice but I didn’t fish the first two days. It just didn’t work out.”
6. Cordiale punches to sixth
Jason Cordiale of Orinda, Calif., placed sixth on day one 19-8, dropped to 10th on day two after adding 14-7, but regained the No. 6 spot in the final round when his limit of 17-3 gave him a tournament total of 51-2. Punching with a Reaction Innovations Kinky Beaver accounted for all of his fish.
Cordiale’s game plan required patience, as the day’s high, outgoing water made him wait for what he wanted.
“I was chasing a low tide, so it didn’t happen ’til the end of the day,” he says. “With a high tide almost all day, it was always an afternoon bite for me.”
7. Nourot takes AOY title
The day-three blues caught up with Nick Nourot, but the overall picture turned out quite nicely for the Benicia, Calif., pro. A 19-pound, 12-ounce bag on day one put him in fourth place, and adding 18-3 the next day bumped him up to third. In the final round, Nourot found only 12-10 and ended up seventh with a tournament total of 50-9. His performance secured the Western Division Strike King Angler of the Year title.
“I’m shocked that I actually won it,” Nourot says of AOY. “On day two, I was asking my friends to add up the points.
“I fished totally different on day three because my goal was to win Angler of the Year. I knew I needed to finish in the top-10, and I’d already done that, so I went for a big bag.”
The first two days, Nourot caught all of his fish punching with 1- and 1 1/4-ounce weights. He also punched on day three, but added keepers on a frog and a wacky-rigged finesse worm.
8. Cloutier adjusts, takes eighth
Nicholas Cloutier of Oakley, Calif., spent two days milking a highly productive stretch of vegetation on which he had won a local tournament a few weeks prior. On day three, the spot finally ran out of gas, and he had to move.
“I ran up north and found this spot, and when we rolled up there, I was like, ‘There’s a 6, there’s a 5, there’s a 4. Let’s figure it out,’” he says. “My co-angler got most of them, but I got some.”
The first two days, Cloutier stuck with punching grass. In the final round, he caught his fish on a 1/2-ounce Cloutier Custom bladed jig with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver trailer and a wacky-rigged Yamamoto Senko.
9. Grover goes with the bladed jig
Kyle Grover of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., compiled weights of 16-13, 17-5 and 11-8 to place ninth with 45-10. After two good days in his main area, Grover struggled on day three and had to scramble around for his limit.
“I caught them in there on day two, but you could tell it was getting dry,” he says. “I couldn’t get bit in there. The birds weren’t working. I just think I caught too many.
“I caught one punching on day two, and around noon on day three I went to my punch stuff. I caught all my weight after 12:30.”
Grover caught his fish on a Ladies Man bladed jig and a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.
10. Slow final day drops McKay to 10th
A tough final round left Jeremy McKay with only three keepers for 4-14, giving him a 10th-place total of 39-15.
“My spot was starting to dry up, so I made a long run that didn’t pan out. I came back south and tried to punch for a big bite, but it didn’t happen,” McKay says.
A Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight produced all of McKay’s fish.