The Freedom High School team of Tyler and Justin Hurney walked away winners of the high school team event.

Walnut Creek pro angler Blake Dyer caught a five-bass limit last Saturday, weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces, to win the three-day Costa FLW Series on the California Delta presented by Power-Pole.

Dyer’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 62 pounds, 13 ounces was enough to earn him the victory by a 1-pound, 9-ounce margin over second-place pro Jason Borofka of Salina, California, and earn him the top prize of $31,114. The tournament was the third and final regular-season tournament of the year for anglers competing in the Costa FLW Series Western Division.

Dyer weighed in a monster 27-pound, 3-ounce limit on day one of the tournament, catching all of his fish punching grass with a green-pumpkin-colored Reaction Innovations Spicy Beaver and a 1.5 ounce weight. He said that most of his damage was done pretty early in the morning.

“I had what I had by about 9:45 in the morning,” Dyer said. “On the first stretch I went to, I caught two big ones. I think the biggest one was close to seven and then another one over five. I went to another little stretch not far away and, on my first cast, I caught a 5 pounder there. I went to the next stretch and caught two small fish, then I went to the backside of that spot and caught two more over five.”

Cooler weather and steady winds forced Dyer and many others to adjust on day two. Dyer skipped one of his starting spots because the wind had blown the mat he intended to fish completely away.

“At my second spot, it was blowing and I tried to punch those mats, but I just wasn’t getting through, because the wind really compacts those mats,” Dyer said. “I didn’t want to waste any more time and lose the tide down in my south spot, so I ran to a tule island and caught a 2 pounder on a Senko and then booked it down south to my main spot.”

His southern area was considerably more protected, and he alternated between fishing a vibrating jig in the open areas and punching the mats.

“That spot salvaged my day,” Dyer said. “I punched one that was almost 4 pounds, I caught one that was almost 5 pounds on a ChatterBait and then filled out my limit.”

Carrying the momentum of two big catches into the final round, Dyer started day three by returning to the Central Delta Slough where he had done most of his previous work. He actually had a different starting spot on days one and two, but his best area sees a lot of waterski and wakeboard activity on the weekends, so he decided to beat the rush. With the exception of a few locals, who graciously gave him a wide berth, Dyer had the spot to himself.

Despite the week’s cold front, which cranked up winds of 15 to 20 mph and dropped air temperatures a good 20 degrees from day one, his fish started biting in short order — but only after a key adjustment.

“I noticed the grass was flowing the opposite direction, and I was going too fast, so I gunned it to the other end of the slough, turned around and started fishing the other direction so my bait was in the current, where the fish are looking up,” Dyer said. “Fish tend to point into the current, so they see what’s coming at them. If you’re going the other way, they don’t have a chance to see it. My first cast, I catch a 3 pounder and then 10 minutes later, I catch a 6 pounder that made all the difference and won the tournament.”

In the college team competition, the Sacramento State University duo of Ilya Guryanov of West Sacramento and Will Karnthong, of Antioch, won behind a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 7 ounces. The victory earned the Hornets’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

“I’m a local, so I’ve spent a lot of time on the Delta, and we definitely put in our practice time for this one,” said Karnthong, a freshman majoring in construction management. “We mainly stayed around the Central Delta – I had 10 to 15 spots where I knew we could catch fish. The name of the game for us was just covering a lot of water, then slowing down in the high-percentage areas.”

“We tried our best to find the big fish punching the grass – and we caught six – but those were all little guys,” said Guryanov, a sophomore majoring in nursing. “Our big fish came on a ChatterBait. We caught around 20 fish, but it was a slow day and we had to just grind it out.”

The duo’s main bait of choice was a green-pumpkin-colored Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer – Karnthong with a Z-Man Super Shad trailer and Guryanov with a Yamamoto Zeko trailer. They used a Big Texan-colored Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver when punching.

“Being a local was a huge advantage for us, because we had more water to fish,” Karnthong went on to say. “A lot of teams were covering water and running and gunning, but I had pre-fished a lot and was able to go from spot to spot knowing that the fish were there, instead of looking for them.”

The fellow Sacramento state team of Discovery Bay’s Aaron Nguyen and Sacramento’s Christopher Orgon finished second, with a five bass total of 13 pounds, 2 ounces. The duo walked away with a $1,000 award for their bass club.

In the high school competition, The Freedom High School duo of Tyler Hurney and Justin Hurney, both of Oakley, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 16 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing California Delta Open.

A field of 59 teams competed in the no-entry fee tournament, which launched from Buckley Cove in Stockton, In FLW and The Bass Federation High School Fishing competition, the top 10-percent of teams competing advance to the High School Fishing National Championship.

The Freedom squad was the only East County team to make the cut, but the Heritage High squad of Drew Ziemann and Hunter Holguin finished 10th, bringing in five bass totaling 8 pounds, 14 ounces.

— Courtesy of Joseph Opager