By David A. Brown
OAKLEY, Calif. — Greater access and improved precision enabled Logan Huntze to sack up a 5-bass limit of 27.22 pounds and lead Day 2 of the Wild West Bass Trail Duel on the California Delta presented by Garmin Fish & Hunt with a total weight of 49.54.
Despite yesterday’s winds of 20-plus mph, the pro from Discovery Bay, Calif. caught a solid limit of 22.32, which put him in sixth place. Today, he was far more time-efficient on what he described as a long-distance milk run through several key central Delta spots.
“It was the same game plan as yesterday, but with no wind, it was easier to go do what I wanted to do,” Huntze said. “I got a couple good bites yesterday and had a couple good ones today too. I had one kicker fish that was about 8 pounds and three that were about five.”
Huntze spent his day fishing down hard banks and islands where he targeted a mix of mats comprising hyacinth, primrose and dead tules. Each type of mat produced fish, but the larger picture was most important.
“The (specific vegetation) didn’t matter as much, as long as you’re in the right area,” Huntze said. “It had to have good cover with good water and it had to have fish around. It was best when I had depths of about 3 to 5 feet.”
Yesterday, Huntze found his greatest consistency in the mats’ current-swept sections. Today, his bites were less confined.
“I caught fish in all parts of the mat and then, toward the end of the day, I caught that big one in a mat that didn’t have much current at all,” he said. “It was consistent yesterday, and then today, it just varied. I caught them with current and no current.”
Huntze surmises that today’s warm, stable weather prompted more big fish to move shallow, with many positioning under mats. Also, a significant decline in wind speed facilitated boat positioning and bait presentations.
“Yesterday, it was blowing so hard that a lot of areas I wanted to fish were unfishable; and even the areas you could fish, you were getting blown around quite a bit. I’m sure there were fish under there, but it was a little harder to target them than it was today.”
Punching a craw colored Missile Baits D-Bomb produced all of Huntze’s fish. He rigged his bait on a 4/0 Gamakatsu flipping hook and used a 1 1/4-ounce tungsten weight.
“I was just making a ton of flips into key locations in the mat,” Huntze said. “I was just grinding it out. I wasn’t catching a lot of fish but the areas I was in had some good fish.”
Harvey Pulliam of San Francisco, Calif. is in second place with 48.28. After leading Day 1 with 27.29, the former MLB player, added 20.99 today.
Pulliam returned to the same central Delta area he fished on Day 1 and again targeted rock and tule banks in 4-5 feet, where he expected to find a mix of shallow spawners and deeper staging prespawners. Despite today’s calmer conditions, Pulliam still contended with visibility issues.
“I had a lot more boat traffic and people were waking out my spot a little bit,” he said. “The water had gotten a little muddy from all that wind yesterday, so you had to present your bait right in their face.
“It was a lot tougher today, but I stayed on that pattern because when you get bit, it’s definitely a solid fish.”
Pulliam caught most of his fish on a wacky-rigged worm, but he also caught a few fish on a 1/2-ounce jig with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver in black/blue and Bloody Mary.
Vincent Bernal of Los Banos, Calif. is in third place with 42.49. He improved from seventh place by adding 20.32 to his Day-2 weight of 22.17.
Bernal fished backwaters where he knew he’d find likely bed fish areas. Here, he fished a wacky-rigged green pumpkin Yamamoto Senko and flipped a 1/2-ounce jig with a white Zoom Speed Craw.
“I was fishing flats with rock because I knew there would be clear water there,” Bernal said. “I also looked for good grass, because if you don’t have that, you’re not going to get the filtration to keep the water clear.”
APEX pro John Pearl of Upper Lake, Calif. is in the lead for Big Fish honors with his 10.58.
Jack Farage or Discovery Bay, Calif. leads the co-angler division with 35.37. Farage placed second on Day 1 with a limit of 22.53 and took over the Day-2 lead by adding 12.84.
Spending his day in muddier waters than he fished yesterday, Farage said he struggled to get bites and found his fish in mats and weed clumps and under docks.
He caught his keepers by punching a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver in California 420, casting a 3/8-ounce Z-Man Chatterbait JackHammer with a Yamamoto Zako trailer and pitching a dropshot with a margarita mutilator Roboworm.
Richard Alcantar of Gridley, Calif. holds the Big Fish lead among co-anglers with his 13.81.
Sunday’s takeoff is scheduled for safe light at Big Break Marina. The weigh-in will be held at the marina at 3 p.m. Pacific.