OAKLEY, Calif. – Nick Salvucci walked away from the scales Thursday feeling like his day had been “kind of a fail.” The Atascadero, California, native weighed in five bass for 16 pounds, 8 ounces on the second day of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Western Division tournament on the California Delta. That mark came up nearly 6 pounds shy of what he’d caught a day prior and 3 ½ pounds below his goal weight of 20 pounds.
The rest of the field might have some quibbles with Salvucci’s definition of failure.
Salvucci kept his lead atop the standings entering the event’s third and final day. He’s 4 pounds clear of second-place angler Ken Mah and 4-12 ahead of Ty Faber.
The Western Division of the Toyota Series is presented by Tackle Warehouse, and this event is sponsored by Psycho Tuna.
Still recovering from an influx of cold, muddy water, the Delta continued to be stingy for much of the 74-boat field. But, like on Wednesday, a few anglers managed to crack the code, with eight limits of more than 16 pounds coming to the scales.
For the second straight day, one of those was Salvucci. Salvucci said he fished largely new spots in similar areas to where he found success in Day 1, with clean water being his primary focus. His fish have been in and around classic spawning habitat, but the water conditions still have them finicky. The key has been “slowing down and tricking one to bite.”
While he got more bites Thursday – around 20, he estimated, landing 12 or 13 – he couldn’t entice a big female. He caught about 14 pounds in the morning and spent the rest of the day trying to cull up, but ultimately weighed in “all 3-pounders, basically, and a 4.”
Salvucci said he’s planning to abandon his previous areas and explore new water on Day 3, when the field will consist of the top 25 anglers. With Thursday bringing calm, sunny conditions with a high in the mid-60s and Friday’s forecast calling for more of the same, he believes the bass are making a push toward their spawning beds.
“These fish, they’re moving to the bank,” Salvucci said. “There’s bedding fish right now.”
Two anglers topped the 20-pound mark on Day 2 after only Salvucci did so on Wednesday, and Mark Lassagne brought the biggest bag of the tournament to the scales with a five-fish limit weighing 26-1. The stringer was anchored by a 10-10 brute that took home Berkley Big Bass honors by nearly 3 pounds. The big day vaulted the Dixon, California, native and Toyota Series veteran into fifth place after he caught two bass for 6-6 on Day 1.
The other 20-pound sack came from Mah. The local hammer weighed in five largemouth for 20-9 to place himself within striking distance of Salvucci. Salvucci believes he needs to replicate his Day 1 success in order to keep clear of Mah, who has racked up eight career Top-10 finishes on the Delta.
“I’d feel comfortable if I caught what I caught the first day,” Salvucci said. “I got a 4-pound lead, so if (Mah) catches 26 … I need over 20 to have a shot.”
In the Strike King Co-Angler standings, Day 1 leader Rachel Uribe didn’t weigh a fish on Thursday but remains atop the standings thanks to her massive 21-9 bag from Wednesday. Uribe, who finished in the top five out of the back of the boat on the Delta in both 2020 and 2021, has a 1-5 lead over Casey Dunn.
Both Uribe and Salvucci will be searching for their first Toyota Series victories on Friday. Despite his 4-pound cushion, Salvucci has no plans to play it safe. He plans to cover new water and target the big females that he believes will continue to swim to the shallows.
“I’m gonna run around,” Salvucci said. “There’s water I haven’t hit, so I will hit that and see if it produces. But just going to go for five big bites tomorrow. If it’s my time, it’s my time. If not, it is what it is.”
1. Nick Salvucci – 38-13 (10)
2. Ken Mah – 34-13 (10)
3. Ty Faber – 34-1 (10)
4. Chris Kinley – 33-12 (9)
5. Mark Lassagne – 32-7 (7)
6. Phillip Dutra – 32-6 (10)
7. Nick Nourot – 31-0 (8)
8. Nicholas Cloutier – 28-7 (9)
9. Kyle Grover – 27-13 (10)
10. Joseph Price – 27-2 (8)