OAKLEY, Calif. – When a co-angler whacks a sack of fish heavier than most of the pros – in the challenging conditions of a severely windy day, no less – it's not surprising that said co-angler fares well. Such was the tale of James Tate, who topped the FLW EverStart Series Western Division tournament on the California Delta.
The Calabasas, Calif. co-angler started day three in third place, but a limit catch of 23 pounds, 6 ounces quickly moved him to the front of his field and there he'd stay to capture the title with a 57-pound, 5-ounce total and a hefty margin of 5-15. Tate's winning catch was anchored by a chunky bass estimated at 10 pounds.
"I started out with a dropshot and made a cast and said 'Look at that one tule in my way' and DONK – big fish," Tate said. "We got that fish in and then it started blowing like crazy so what else can I do, but pick up a crankbait. I caught a couple good ones on that; caught another one on the dropshot and that was the day."
Tate was the only co-angler to break 20 pounds on day three.
Elliott slips to second
Day-two leader Tom Elliott, of Downey, Calif. dropped one notch in the final round to finish second with 51-6. Elliott caught his fish by capitalizing on reaction bites with a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap crankbait and balancing his day with finesse presentations, specifically a 7-inch Robo Worm (margarita mutilator).
Nourot improves to third
Nick Nourot, of Benicia, Calif. got off to a strong start with a 23-pound, 14-ounce bag on day one and then remained near to the top of the co-angler division with a fourth-place effort on day two and, ultimately a third-place finish in the final round. His tournament total was 45-5.
Nourot described his bait selection as: "Senkos, Senkos and more Senkos and then I had a big fish (approximately 8 pounds) on a Berkley Crazy Legs Chigger Craw."
Limbrick Jr., Au take fourth, fifth
Carl Limbrick Jr., of Bonita, Calif., caught a limit weighing 12 pounds and improved from sixth to fourth with a total weight of 42-11. Tai Au, of Gilbert, Ariz., made the biggest move of the day by shooting up five spots from 10th to fifth with 42-8.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Cal Delta event:
6th: Travis Moran, of Reno, Nev., 41-3
7th: Ryan Bottini, of Benicia, Calif., 41-1
8th: Brandon Marcis, of Tempe, Ariz., 40-9
9th: Daniel Leue, of Colusa, Calif., 38-4
10th: Gayle Janes, of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., 35-14