OAKLEY, Calif. — The California Delta can be one fickle creature and if you doubt that, just ask Obedie Williams. After leading Day 1, the pro from Discovery Bay, Calif. is back on top of the Wild West Bass Trail Duel on the Delta presented by the City of Oakley Calif. with a 2-day total of 45.01, but the two days were starkly different.
Williams led the first day with a limit of 27.71 — the event’s heaviest bag — which gave him more than a 2-pound margin over APEX pro Ken Mah. That bag came together by early afternoon, but Day 2 took a stingy turn and Williams faced the late day hours wondering if he was about to blow his lead.
Thankfully, he was able to scrape together a competitive limit of 17.3 that sends him into the final round 2 1/2 pounds ahead of second-place angler, APEX pro Alex Klein.
“On Day 1, it happened pretty quickly and then, to go all day today, it was tough,” Williams said. “It was a grind today — I caught my first fish at 11. I had to work for every bite.
“This is my first time leading a pro-am, so I feel that added pressure of being in the lead. To come back today and (remain) in the lead, it’s just mind blowing.”
After the Day-1 weigh ins, Williams stated that he had intentionally laid off his best spots, in hopes of finding them ready to produce again today. As it turned out, he found too many boats crowding his main Central Delta areas, so he turned to his back-ups.
“I had a tough time in my back-up spots because of the wind,” Williams said. “It got up to 15-20 mph today and that made it hard to fish most of my areas. The wind messed me up with the tides and only one of my spots was (in the lee).”
As Williams explained, the wind actually stimulated numbers of fish, but the vast majority were small. Finding quality amid excessive quantity proved challenging.
“I went through 30 small fish today,” Williams lamented. “On my second-to-last spot, I got a 2 3/4- and a 3-pounder. I got to my last spot at 3 p.m. with a super small limit; I had those two from the previous spot and three line burners.
At 3:20 I got a 7 1/2-pounder that bumped up my bag and got me back in the lead. That took so much stress off my shoulders.”
Williams caught his fish on the same topwater and punch baits he used on Day 1. Conditions tempted him to make a change, but he felt confident sticking with his guns.
Assessing his prospects for Day 3, Williams said he’ll likely fish his spots in reverse order. If he can start the final round by getting back on the bites he found toward today’s end, he could position himself to close out his first Wild West Bass Trail pro-am win.
“I need to fish clean; I missed a solid fish today,” Williams said. “I just have to tell myself to stay patient. Tomorrow I’m just going to go fishing. I just hope the fish I catch are the right ones.”
Hailing from Oroville, Calif., Klein placed second with 42.48. After weighing a fourth-place bag of 22.92 on Day 1, Klein added 19.56.
“I don’t really know what was going on; all I know is they weren’t biting like they were yesterday,” he said. “I just ground it out and kept my head down. I stayed focus and got the right bites.
“I’m not getting a lot of bites, but when I get bit, it seems to be the right one.”
Spending his day in the San Joaquin River, Klein targeted areas with good water movement next to clumpy grass adjacent to deeper water. He caught his fish by fishing a 1/2-ounce Heavy Hitter bladed jig with a Yamamoto Zako trailer and punching a Big Bite Baits College Craw with a 1/2-ounce weight.
“The most important thing today was the discipline to stay focused and pay attention,” Klein said. “Everything looks good down here, so you have to constantly be paying attention, so you don’t miss a bite.”
Hulen Johnson of Oakley, Calif. is in third with 39.78. He posted a limit of 21.90 on Day 1 and backed that up with a second-round weight of 17.88.
Johnson anchored his Day-2 bag with a 7.52 that grabbed his flipping bait around noon. Noting that he also caught keepers on a topwater bait and a reaction bait when the wind picked up, Johnson said he stayed within a 10-mile range of Central Delta waters.
“I have a few key spots that were pretty close,” Johnson said. “I’m looking for bluegill, good grass and some tules nearby.”
Craig Gong leads the big fish standings with a double-digit Delta darling that went 10.05.
Luke Wilson leads the Co-Angler Division with 24.94. Wilson placed third on Day 1 with 14.34 and boosted his total with a second-round bag of 10.60. Wilson heads into Championship Sunday leading Roy Desmangles by just over half a pound.
“I had a 5-pounder on today, but it spit a dropshot,” Wilson said. “I could’ve had a little cushion going into Day 3, but that’s how it goes.
“Anytime I make a top-10 I’m happy. I’m fishing with Ken Mah tomorrow and he’s a stick on the Delta, so I’m sure I’ll learn something.
Both days, Wilson caught his fish on tule islands and riprap with tules. On Day 1, he caught his two best fish on a ChatterBait and his others on unweighted Texas-rigged Yamamoto Senkos. Today, he did all of his work by dropshotting a 6-inch Roboworm Fat in the red crawler color.
Mike Hummel holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 7.47.
Sunday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time at Big Break Marina. The weigh-in will be held at the marina at 3 p.m.