By David A. Brown
OAKLEY, Calif. — Harvey Pulliam ended his Major League Baseball career in 1996, but the upbeat pro from San Francisco beat the tag at home by an eyelash with a 3-day total of 66.94 pounds that topped the Wild West Bass Trail Duel on the Delta presented by Garmin Fish & Hunt.
After leading Day 1 with 27.29 — the tournament’s heaviest bag — Pulliam added 20.99 a day later and slipped to second. In the final round, he posted a limit of 18.66 and slipped past Day-2 leader Logan Huntze by a margin of .02. Notching his first Pro-Am victory, Pulliam earned a $25,000 first-place award.
“First of all, the key to my success was God,” Pulliam said. “At the end of the day, when the Lord blesses you and it’s your time, nobody can take that away from you.
“Logan’s a great fisherman; he had a great day, as well. I want to show him a lot of love.”
Day 3 saw Pulliam return to the same stretch of central Delta bank where a rock/tule mix provided a handy setup for bed fish, as well as staging prespawners. The big winds of Day 1 left his spot muddy on Day 2, but he was able to amass a competitive limit. Today brought a more challenging situation.
“Water skiers started coming by and they made it tough,” Pulliam said of the stirred water he fished. “I only got three bites on my main spot and I had to make some adjustments and make a few runs (to similar habitat) to get my limit.”
Pulliam caught his initial limit by flipping a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver in the Bloody Mary color, a wacky-rigged black/blue 6-inch Yamamoto Senko, a Yamamoto Flappin Hog in green pumpkin red and a dropshot with a 6-inch Roboworm in Aaron’s Magic.
Realizing that his main pattern may not deliver all that he needed, Pulliam made a late-day call that yielded a small fish with a huge impact. Relocating to a rock bank on a channel bend with good current exposure, he decided to stake his outcome on the reaction bite.
“I picked up that little red crankbait (Luckycraft CB100), made six casts and caught one keeper at 2:30,” Pulliam said. “I culled up from 1.37 pounds to 1.40,” he said. “That was the fish that won the tournament for me.”
Describing his day as a grind in which he had few bites, Pulliam noted that his professional sports background prepared him for the final-round pressure.
“It was like runners on second and third, two outs, bottom of the 9th, World Series; it’s just like that,” Pulliam said. “Being a Major League Baseball player helps because of your mental game. Everybody saw me with my bibs on and said ‘Harv, you’re not hot?’ I said, ‘Naw man, this ain’t nothing, bro.”
Acknowledging the magnitude of his victory, Pulliam said: “I won a championship in AAA and made it to the playoffs in the Major Leagues, but it was nothing like this. This is awesome. Thank you Jesus.”
Hailing from Discovery Bay, Calif., Huntze finished a close second with 66.92. After struggling with the first day’s winds and placing sixth with 22.32, he added the event’s second-largest bag — 27.22 — and took over the lead. With Day 3 bringing a tougher bite, Huntze weighed a limit of 17.38 and settled at second.
“I ran from east Delta to south Delta and ended in west Delta; I was all over the place,” he said. “I punched grass and hyacinth mats all day because that’s what I had all my big bites on the last couple of days. I didn’t get many bites today and I was catching a lot smaller fish as well.
“It was a grind running around trying to find bites. I didn’t have a limit until the afternoon. I think it was all the pressure on the water yesterday and today. The fish are getting pounded and I was fishing some of the same stuff, so my (spots) were getting pounded too.”
Vincent Bernal of Los Banos, Calif. finished third with 62.37. Kick starting his day with a reaction bite, he spent the rest of his time targeting bed fish.”
“I caught my biggest one — 4.97 — on a Chatterbait this morning and after that, I went sight fishing once the tide pulled out enough so I could see,” Bernal said. “I punched for about an hour at the end of the day, but all the fish I weighed in were from sight fishing and the Chatterbait.”
Bernall threw a 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Jackhammer with a green pumpkin Berkley Havoc Pit Boss. He sight fished with a 1/2-ounce jig with a white craw trailer, a a white/chartreuse laminate Yamamoto Senko and a dropshot with a 4-inch Roboworm in margarita mutilator.
Bernal’s daily weights were 22.17, 20.32 and 19.88
APEX pro John Pearl of Upper Lake, Calif. won the Big Fish with his 10.58.
Jack Farage or Discovery Bay, Calif. won the co-angler division with 42.85. Day 1 saw Farage place second with 22.53 before adding 12.84 and taking the Day-2 lead. He closed the deal with a final round weight of 7.48.
“This week was really stressful; I had an okay practice and caught a couple of big ones, but I knew it was tough,” Farage said. “I figured it was going to take a lot of weight to win and I was fortunate enough to do that on Day 1.
“The majority of my fish were on finesse baits — wacky-rigged Senkos and dropshots with Roboworms. If you don’t have a margarita mutilator Roboworm, you’re missing out. I also caught fish on a a 3/8-ounce Z-Man Chatterbait JackHammer with a Yamamoto Zako trailer.”
Richard Alcantar of Gridley, Calif. won the Big Fish award among co-anglers with his 13.81.