By David A. Brown
OAKLEY, Calif. — Harvey Pulliam of San Francisco, Calif. fancies himself a run-and-gun kinda guy but confining himself to about a mile and a half of central Delta waters led to a 5-bass limit of 27.29 pounds that leads Day 1 of the the Wild West Bass Trail Duel on the Delta presented by Garmin Fish & Hunt.
“I’m usually a guy who likes to make a lot of moves, but the wind was blowing 20-25 mph out of the north, so it was really hard to make moves,” Pulliam said. “That was kind of a good thing because you had to settle down and fish your area pretty hard.”
A former MLB outfielder for the Kansas City Royals and the Colorado Rockies, Pulliam focused his efforts on a mix of rock and tules. With the fish in a mix of prespawn and spawning modes, his day involved some of both.
“One of the fish I caught, her tail was beat up (from fanning out a bed),” he said. “I’m just going down the bank fishing hard and if they’re spawning, I’m not seeing many of them.
“The prespawners were sitting off a little deeper. They hadn’t moved up, but with the full moon on Sunday, I’m thinking a lot of big fish are moving up. I saw some big fish and I threw at them, but I couldn’t get most of them to go.”
Pulliam caught most of his fish on a wacky-rigged 5-inch Senko and a dropshot. While blind-casting through what he considered a likely zone produced most of his fish, Pulliam caught a 5-pounder off a visible bed later in the morning.
“I flipped over there and she was on it so fast, so I didn’t really have to work hard for her,” Pulliam said. “It was really cold early this morning, but I feel the rock was warming up a little faster. I feel like that might have been a key factor for those fish being in that area.”
For Day 2, Pulliam will take off in the first flight. He’s anticipating some big opportunities with bed fish that may be getting right.
“Today, I pulled up on a couple of spots I know and a couple of big girls showed up for me and it was a great day,” he said. “I have to back it up tomorrow, so hopefully with low light conditions tomorrow morning, I can catch more of them.”
APEX pro John Pearl of Upper Lake, Calif. is in second place with 25.45. Fishing the south Delta, he focused on mats and caught most of his limit fish punching a Strike King Rodent in the Falcon Lake Craw color with a 1 1/2-ounce weight. Pearl also caught one keeper on a dropshot.
“Around 1:30, I caught a 10.58 and a 6 out of a thick mat on back-to-back casts,” Pearl said. “I caught those fish on the (incoming) tide switch.”
Pearl had wanted to fish that big-fish mat in practice, but mechanical problems limited his time on the water. He said he believes the mat’s location on a current seam is what made it so productive. He caught his dropshot fish by working the outer perimeter of a mat.
Garrett Bradshaw of Oakley, Calif. is in third place with 25.12. A key midday adjustment lead him to a big opportunity.
“Around 11 o’clock, I had a certain part of the tide where I figured my big fish would move from a spawning flat to the secondary staging positions,” Bradshaw said. “I ran from one side of the Delta to where I thought my best chance was.
“I was punching mats on the edge of a flat and lost a big one; but 10 minutes later, I caught one that was 6 1/2. Five minutes later, I caught my big one — a 7 1/2 — in the same mat. I had caught an 8 1/2 in practice in the same mat, so I knew there were big fish in the area. The plan just happened to work like we dreamed it would.”
Bradshaw punched a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver in the red craw color. He caught his other three fish by flipping a wacky-rigged 5-inch Senko to hard tule walls. Depth of at least 3 feet was essential to this scenario.
Jason Austin is in fourth place with 24.86, followed by Hunter Schlander with 24.30.
Pearl is in the lead for Big Fish honors with his 10.58.
Richard Alcantar of Gridley, Calif. leads the co-angler division with 23.56. Despite reporting an overall tough day, Alcantar started his morning with fireworks when a giant bass of 13.81 pounds ate his white Z-Man JackHammer Chatterbait around 8 a.m.
“I think this was a prespawn fish because it was on the edge of a flat with grass,” Alcantar said. “The fish was about 15 feet off the bank in 7 feet of water.”
Alcantar caught his remaining limit fish on a wacky-rigged 5-inch green pumpkin Senko and a dropshot with a 6-inch Roboworm in the margarita mutilator color. Thanking his pro, Nick Salvucci, for allowing him plenty of water to fish, Alcantar attributed his success to persistence.
“We were grinding; it was tough,” he said. “The key was just keeping your nose down and keeping your bait in the water. I only caught six fish today.”
Alcantar holds the Big Fish lead among co-anglers with his 13.81.
Saturday’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.