A day of big bites

Number of anglers enjoy two-bag day

Denny Brauer

STOCKTON, Ca. — The weigh-in process for the TroKar Duel in the Delta starts with a simple question when the anglers pull up at the dock at Weber Point Park.

"How many bags you need?"

One weigh-in bag is for smaller fish, any additional bag is for a fish over 5 pounds.

Today, finally, was a multiple-bag day for many of the anglers competing in the Elite Series event on the California Delta.

As the first flight of boats pulled in this afternoon, it was obvious that the BASS weigh-in helpers were going to run short of bags. Chad Griffin, two bags. Clark Reehm, two bags. Greg Hackney, two bags. Greg Vinson, Shaw Grigsby, Gary Klein, Rick Morris, Scott Rook, Derek Remitz, Stephen Browning, Skeet Reese, all two bags.

It was part of a barrage of bigger largemouth that tripled the cut weight from yesterday, and finally gave the field a peek at what the California Delta is known for.

"The big ones bit today," Iaconelli deadpanned.

The difference from today to yesterday, according to an equally deadpan Grigsby after putting 18-14 on the scales: "It rained, man."

Iaconelli, more than any other of the 93 anglers working today to make the 47-man cut, would know about the quality of the bite Friday vs. Day One.

After hooking 20 fish Thursday and confidently declaring that he felt like he had a pattern and two key locations figured out, the New Jersey native hooked 18 fish on Day Two and weighed in the heaviest bag of the day with 25 pounds, 12 ounces, nearly doubling his Day One output.

"I feel like I'm on a spot with a lot of fish, but I didn't have any big bites yesterday," Iaconelli said. "These fish are pre-spawn: they're moving up. This place, man, one fish here can change the lead. There are 10-, 12-pounder swimming out there."

Alabama pro Greg Vinson came closest to clipping the 10-pound mark today, weighing in an 8-10 to take over the tournament's big-bass lead and catapult from 26th place to seventh, but Arkansas' Scott Rook made the biggest move based on big fish.

Rook, who was out of the top 50 after a Day One haul of only 4-7, bagged 25-11 to land in the top 10, thanks largely to a pair of hawgs that went roughly 7 and 8 pounds apiece.

"You can fall behind here and get caught up real quick because of fish like that," said Rook, who fished spots today that he fished in practice, but on a different tide. "The tide here might have moved the fish I found in practice, but I didn't figure that out yesterday. And they didn't bite at one time, either. I had to work all day."

That was a change from Day One, when many of the anglers in the top 20 caught the majority of their fish in a fairly constricted 3-hour window after the late-morning tide change. John Crews, who stood at the holding tanks 5 minutes before weighing in one of the biggest pairs of the day, shaking his head at the number of 5-plus-pounders being weighed , culled only one fish all day and had six bites.

"It's not like I'm getting 100 bites," Crews said. "It's not fast and furious, at least not in the area I'm fishing. I had to work pretty much all day. It's a grind, but, I think there are more big fish out there."

And Day Two leader Stephen Browning, who entered the day 2-3 ahead of Dave Wolak, seems to be on them as much as anybody. Browning was admittedly surprised to find out that his biggest fish was a 7-9, but he nonetheless increased his lead to just over 5 pounds over Iaconelli.

"I'm shocked," Browning said. "I guess I'm getting confused on my 5s and 7s. I'm not judging them very well this week, but that's great as long as I'm misjudging them in the right direction. These guys are pushing hard, but I have to stay ahead of 'em. This place is known for big fish, and tomorrow would be a great day to catch a big sack."