BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – Pro Nick Salvucci of Atascadero, Calif., brought a five-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces to win the Toyota Series event at the California Delta and earn the top payout of $24,795. Salvucci’s three day total of 15 bass weighing 54-10 gave him the victory over Elk Grove, Calif. angler Ken Mah, who weighed in 15 bass totaling 51-12 to finish second and earn $9,608.
Salvucci overcame tough fishing conditions to get the win. An influx of cold, muddy water made large portions of the Delta unfishable and put the bass in a funk. Some pre-tournament chatter predicted the winning three-day weight would fall in the mid-40s. While Salvucci easily surpassed that mark, he thinks the slow bite actually worked to his advantage. He believes it suited his stubborn nature.
“I like tough bites because I can go hours without getting a bite throwing the same lure,” he said.
That’s what he did in this event. Salvucci said every one of the bass he weighed in ate a spinnerbait with double Colorado blades and a 4.3-inch Keitech swimbait trailer. He did his damage on the southern end of the Delta – an area he said he has rarely fished in the past. But by covering lots of water during the two-day practice period (he estimates he burned 80 gallons of fuel) Salvucci found a few stretches of cleaner water with submerged hydrilla patches near riprap banks and tules.
“I was looking for hydrilla grass clumps up against tules and up against the riprap,” he said. “A lot of them were right where the tules went to the riprap, it made that ambush point. That’s where I’d catch them.”
After declaring on Thursday evening that he would do something different on the tournament’s final day, Salvucci set out to do just that, throwing a double-bladed buzzbait in search of a big bite in the morning. Eventually, though, he returned to the area where he’d had success on Day 1, when he landed a 22-05 limit.
The first fish that bit his spinnerbait wrapped his line around “the one standing stick” in the area and came unhooked. He didn’t get another bite until about 9:30 a.m., he said, before catching three fish in less than an hour, including two over 3 pounds. When noon arrived with no more bites, he returned to the spot where he’d missed the big fish and caught his largest bass of the day, a 4 1/2-pound largemouth. He credited fellow competitor and former Bass Pro Tour angler Ish Monroe for helping put that fish in the boat.
“I didn’t do any trailer hooks, and then I was talking to Ish last night and he was throwing a spinnerbait, and he told me he caught two 4-pounders on his trailer hook,” Salvucci explained. “So I put a trailer hook on last night, and I ended up catching my big one on the trailer hook.”
Salvucci added another fish over 2 pounds to his livewell shortly thereafter, which improved his bag by about half a pound. But, he still believed he needed another big bite to take first place. His goal for the day, after all, was 22 pounds. So he spent the final hour of the day punching mats, to no avail. Salvucci returned to the boat ramp discouraged.
“I said, well, I blew my chance,” Salvucci said. “Came in with my 15 pounds thinking I was going to get my butt kicked. And I guess it was a tougher day than I expected.”
Here are the final totals for the Top 10:
1st: Nick Salvucci, Atascadero, Calif., 15 bass, 54-10, $24,795
2nd: Ken Mah, Elk Grove, Calif., 15 bass, 51-12, $9,608
3rd: Nicholas Cloutier, Oakley, Calif., 14 bass, 48-14, $7,438
4th: Ty Faber, Pagosa Springs, Colo., 15 bass, 47-03, $6,199
5th: Nick Nourot, Benicia, Calif., 13 bass, 46-09, $5,579
6th: Mark Lassagne, Dixon, Calif., 11 bass, 42-10, $5,759
7th: Hunter Schlander, Modesto, Calif., 15 bass, 42-07, $4,339
8th: Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., 12 bass, 39-01, $3,719
9th: David Valdivia, Riverside, Calif., 13 bass, 38-03, $3,099
10th: Kyle Grover, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., 15 bass, 38-02, $2,479
Patrick Touey of Santa Maria, Calif., won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Wednesday with a bass weighing 8-14. On Thursday, Lassagne earned the prize after bringing a monster 10-10 largemouth to the scale.