Blake Dyer set the pace on day one with a 27-pound, 3-ounce bag and he never relinquished the lead in the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. Weighing 15-8 on the final day, Dyer totaled 62-13 to stay ahead of a final-day charge from Jason Borofka. For his win, which is his first with FLW, Dyer takes home $31,114 and a trophy that will last forever.
“I can’t believe it; I’ve fished so many team tournaments out here the last couple of years since I got my boat and I’ve kinda been getting my butt kicked,” Dyer says. “I was determined to figure this place out.”
Carrying the momentum of two big catches into the final round, Dyer started day three by returning to the Central Delta Slough where he had done most of his previous work. He actually had a different starting spot on days one and two, but his best area sees a lot of waterski and wakeboard activity on the weekends, so he decided to beat the rush.
With the exception of a few locals, who graciously gave him a wide berth, Dyer had the spot to himself. Despite the week’s cold front, which cranked up winds of 15-20 mph and dropped air temperatures a good 20 degrees from day one, his fish started biting in short order — but only after a key adjustment.
“I noticed the grass was flowing the opposite direction and I was going too fast, so I gunned it to the other end of the slough, turned around and started fishing the other direction so my bait was in the current, where the fish are looking up,” Dyer explains. “Fish tend to point into the current so they see what’s coming at them. If you’re going the other way, they don’t have a chance to see it.
“My first cast, I catch a 3-pounder and then 10 minutes later, I catch a 6-pounder that made all the difference and won the tournament. Once that stretch was done, I ran around like a crazy person trying to cull out a couple of little ones.”
Dyer caught most of his better fish this week on a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer with a Yamamoto Zako, also in green pumpkin. He also caught keepers by punching hyacinth and hydrilla mats with a 1 1/2-ounce Woo! Tungsten weight, Dirty Jigs Punchin' Skirt in the big Texan color and a Reaction Innovations Spicy Beaver in the tramp stamp color.
Dyer says his choice of ChatterBait tackle proved essential to his success.
“I used to throw my ChatterBaits on a fiberglass rod, but I’m not into that anymore because I lost too many fish,” he says. “I use a 7-6 medium-heavy G. Loomis rod with a really soft tip. I put a slower gear ratio reel on it. A lot of the year, I was using a 7.4:1, but I slowed down to a 6.3:1 and I think that helped."
Reaching back to his 15 years of co-angler experience, Dyer also employed a drop-shot rigged with a 6-inch Roboworm Fat Straight Tail Worm in the Delta classic margarita mutilator color. This bait produced two big bites on day two and one quality keeper on day three.
“It’s tough to remain consistent for three days out here,” Dyer says. “The key was going with my gut and being versatile. I’m very comfortable with a spinning rod in my hand. I know a lot of the guys out here that are big sticks will punch all day and get what they get. I know in my gut when it’s time to put it down and pick up the spinning rod with the worm."
Dyer admits that his final day tested his resolve. He missed a couple of early opportunities, but keeping it together and making the right decisions helped him overcome the disappointments and finish strong.
“I lost a couple of fish that kind of messed with my head a little bit, but 10 minutes later I caught that 6-pounder,” he says. “You keep your head in it, you just go fishing. I tried to keep my nerves calm; I wasn’t completely freaking out.
“I was lucky enough to have such a magical day one; everything came together. I love coming out here, I love fishing FLW. I just can’t believe I won!”
Top 10 pros
1. Blake Dyer – Walnut Creek, Calif. – 62-13 (15) – $31,114
2. Jason Borofka – Salinas, Calif. – 61-4 (15) – $13,579
3. Austin Wilson – Citrus Heights, Calif. – 57-0 (15) – $9,274
4. Nick Nourot – Benicia, Calif. – 55-4 (15) – $7,728
5. Mike Birch – Oakley, Calif. – 53-13 (15) – $6,956
6. John Pearl – Upper Lake, Calif. – 50-5 (15) – $6,183
7. Michael "Bub" Fong – Sacramento, Calif. – 49-5 (15) – $5,410
8. Bub Tosh – Modesto, Calif. – 48-2 (15) – $5,833
9. Phillip Dutra – Concord, Calif. – 47-3 (15) – $3,864
10. Jamond Andrews – Oakley, Calif. – 46-1 (15) – $3,091