By David A. Brown
OROVILLE, Calif. — Logan McDaniel had a score to settle and when he finally got his shot at redemption, he capitalized on the moment and boated a huge kicker that anchored a 2-day total of 30.10 pounds and propelled him to the lead on Day 2 of the Wild West Bass Trail Pro-Am on Lake Oroville presented by Price Family Dealership.
After posting a Day-1 limit of 9.12, McDaniel added a second-round bag weighing 20.98 — the event’s heaviest limit and the only one to break 20 pounds. McDaniel also holds the distinction of catching the only double digit fish — a beastly largemouth that went 12.86.
On the strength of that massive fish, the pro from Oroville, Calif. heads into Championship Sunday with nearly a 5-pound lead over Day-1 leader J.R. Wright.
“About a month ago, I went into this pocket that I’ve fished since I was a kid and dropped two 12- to 13-pounders at my boat,” McDaniel said. “Going into this event, I was kinda hoping I could get back on those fish again.
“Today, in the (strong) winds, I started on the opposite end of the lake and by 12 o’clock, my first spot, where I caught my fish yesterday, just fell apart. I just put everything down, pulled out my wind baits and raced up into this backwater.”
McDaniel entered the area with a lone keeper in his well. He worked through the area once and on his second pass, he nabbed the giant. The bite, the fight and the catch were spectacular, but lightning nearly struck twice for McDaniel.
“Four casts after I caught that big one, I had another fish the same size boil at the boat,” he said. “I had it on for a couple of seconds but it shook off.”
McDaniel caught his big kicker in the North Fork in 5 feet of water around shallow rock. Burning down the bank, he targeted the smaller rock in muddier windblown areas. On his way back to check-in, McDaniel caught a final keeper that gave him a small cull.
Noting that he caught only seven fish today, McDaniel said the big fish ate a moving bait. His first keeper ate a finesse bait, three others also bit moving baits, while his late-day cull fish bit a Float-n-fly with a custom tied The Minnow fly tied by Ryan Williams of North Valley Guide Service.
With the Day-2 weather whipping Lake Oroville into a frothy slop, McDaniel said his Phoenix PHX 21 and 250 Mercury Pro XS allowed him to efficiently navigate the rough water.
“I felt I had an advantage in the wind today,” McDaniel said. “With 4-footers across the main lake, this boat cut through it like a knife.”
Looking ahead to Day 3, McDaniel said. “I’m going to give it all to God and just go out and have fun.”
Wright, who makes his home in Truckee, Calif. took the early lead with 12.93. In the second round, he added 12.20 for a 2-day total of 25.13.
Resuming the pattern that produced his Day-1 fish, Wright targeted points. He found the points with some type of irregularities were most productive.
“I did the same thing I did yesterday; I’m just running around and fishing new water,” Wright said. “I hit probably 15 points. With today’s weather, I fished more windblown points.”
Wright caught his fish by alternating between Keitech 2.8 and 3.3 Swing Impact Fat swimbaits on 1/4-ounce Ladies Man ball heads. He fished his baits on 7-pound Daiwa J-Fluoro, which sinks fast and ensures maximum bait motion.
“About every point that looked good had a fish on it,” Wright said. “I only had a couple of points where I caught multiple fish.”
Ryan McIntosh of Oroville, Calif. is in third place with 23.22. McIntosh took second on Day 1 with 12.87 and bolstered that with today’s limit of 10.35.
After starting in Canyon Creek, McIntosh caught his fish in Middle Fork and South Fork. There, he fished shallow trees in 15-20 feet.
McIntosh caught his fish on an 1/8-ounce smelt-matching hair jigs tied by his dad. Trusting the sensitivity of his Powell Rods, McIntosh said he found distance and patience were his allies.
“I tried to stay as far away from the fish as I could,” he said. “The thing that helped me the most was just super slow fishing — as slow as I could go.”
McDaniel is in the lead for Big Bass honors with his 12.86.
Ryan Gutierrez of Weiser, Idaho, leads the co-angler division with 21.16. His daily weights were 9.51 and 11.65.
Targeting areas with a mix of sand and larger chunk rock, Gutierrez caught his fish on Keitech 2.8 Swing Impact Fat swimbaits on 1/8-ounce ball heads. The light weight, he said, proved strategic for his presentation.
“The bass I’m targeting are in about 6-12 feet and that lighter head doesn’t sink as fast,” Gutierrez said. “I feel like the fish are feeding looking up, so with that lighter head, I can get it out there and it doesn’t go to the bottom as fast, so I can retrieve it slower.
“I’m fishing my bait on a 7-2 medium M1 Phenix rod. It’s super lightweight and sensitive and it fits what I’m doing.”
Gutierrez holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 3.79.
Sunday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. Pacific at Loafer Creek Recreation Area. The weigh-in will be held at Loafer Creek at 3:30 p.m.