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They said it couldn’t be done, but the first day of the WON BASS Nitro/Mercury Delta Invitational saw a welcomed break in the storms and a great exhibition of bass fishing skills combine for an impressive day on the Delta in the dead of winter as a pair of locals posted weights over 18 pounds and two SoCal pros were close behind with heavy sacks in the 16 to 17-plus-pound range. As you would expect on the Delta, big fish were a part of the picture.


The current leader is Jim LaRosa of Tracy, pictured above, whose 6.49-pound largemouth anchored an 18.64 bag that held up through the four flights of 60 boats entered in the event. “I had to drive all of 20 minutes to get here,”joked the local pro. His AAA Greg Rozycki of Berkeley goes into the second day leading that division.


Dozens of pros pulled out in the days leading up to this first WON BASS Pro Circuit event of 2010, discouraged by rain, wind and a tough bite, but Harvey Naslund’s return to pro bass fishing inspired more than one longtime SoCal pro to stick with the program. Dave Nollar, Naslund’s team tournament partner in recent years, was the first to the weigh-in Friday, Feb. 5, and he plunked down an impressive 13.54-pound sack that set the pace for a day that would see many limits over 11 pounds weighed.


Nollar was followed by LaRosa’s bar-setting limit and then it was time for another Southern California to keep the pressure on. This time it was one of the young guns from the Southland as Ricky Shabazz  came in with 17.34 pounds. His AAA Mikel Turner leads the big fish race in that division with a 5.54 largemouth.


“Unfortunately it’s pretty common knowledge where the fish are,”said Shabazz. “It’s a race. I was the first one there today and I know a shortcut, so hopefully I’ll be there first tomorrow.”


Duane Dunstone  and AAA Andy Manahl (who came all the way from Phoenix and fishes the south as a pro) were next up and Dunstone quickly upped the ante on the big fish with an 8.10 largemouth.

Andy Manahl and Duane Dunstone's first day catch.


“Andy had the big fish’s twin on when I got this one but lost it,” said Dunstone.  “At least I know I’m fishing where the big fish are.” Manahl did manage to get a 3.61 to put himself in contention for AAA big fish. The anglers finished the day with 13.49 pounds.


One of the Delta’s legends found one of the Delta’s legendary quality bucketmouths, but Dave Gliebe’s 7.98 was one of only two fish that resulted in a 10.23 weight for the day. Still, with a storm bringing changing conditions, he’s still within range.


Robert Lee and Toua Yang with their 17.55 pounds.

Robert Lee has also finished atop the field many times in WON BASS events and with some help from AAA Toua Yang is right there again with a sack that tipped the scales at 17.55 pounds. Yang posted a 4.80 big fish.


Lee was asked if the bite was as tough as everyone said going into the event. “Yep,” was the brief reply. When asked how he felt about the next day’s prospects, Lee said, “Not good.”


At this point in the weigh-in it seemed like lots of good bags of fish were in the water tanks waiting to weighed and one of the best was brought up by the rising northern star Sean Stafford, who checked in with 16.58 pounds.


Then the big fish of the first day of competition was weighed in as Phil Burgess of Verman hefted up a 9.12-pound beauty for the cameras. When asked what his total weight for the day was, Burgess nodded toward the fish and said, “That right there.”


Phil Burgess and the day one 9.12 big fish.

Then it was time for the South to rise again as Dick Watson weighed in 16.62 pounds.


“I’ve got two spots, and they’ver been hot and cold in pre-fish,” said Watson. “I got to the first and I was just for one or two.  We got the fifth and I was really surprised. I’ve

got it to myself so I’m going there tomorrow and just beat it to death.”


Some other good weights came in, but by now the top 10 called for at least 13 pounds, especially when Ken Phillips of Antioch came up to the stage with 18.32 pounds of  solid 3 to 4-plus pounders in his bag.

Ken Phillips sack was full of bass to 5 pounds.


We had a good day, we culled out a few times,” said Phillips. “I looked for clean water and used light line and six inch worms. There’s clean water in the dead end sloughs and marinas. Clean water and finesse-type baits, that was it.


And that was it for day one of the WON BASS Delta Invitational.


Look for the second day results and final standings tomorrow on this site and


-- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor



4:06 PM We've got a race! Ken Phillips just put 18.32 on the scales. Photos and more to be posted this evening.

3:56 PM 12 pound bags pretty common. Dick Watson came in with 16.62.

3:46 PM Lots of good  bags coming in. Robert Lee just weighed 17.55. New big fish Phil Burgess 9.10.

3:33 PM Some good weights despite dire predictions. Dave Nollar kicked off the day with 5 for 13.54 then Jim LaRosa upped the bar to 18.64 which has held up through 3 flights. Big fish is 8.19 for Duane Dunstone. 

Friday 2-5-2010 - 3:00 PM  It won't be long.

2/5 10 a.m. Delta Invitational is underway and all 60 boats launched, although one boat had to come back in due to water in the fuel and the Mercury rep was hard at work trying to get the anglers back on the water. We've got a surprise this morning -- sunshine. There's a good breeze up so that could help the reaction bait specialists find a few fish. Our WON BASS team tournament last Saturday was won with more than a 20-pound bag, so they're out there. Of course, second place had only 7 pounds. As noted, however, there are some great anglers out on the water, including some old school northern pros. Contrary to what was previously reported, Dee Thomas backed out of fishing, but there are longtime pros like Howard Hughes out there giving it their best.
2/4 8:45 pm and 60 boats are entered in the WON BASS Nitro/Mercury Delta Invitational based out of Russo's Marina. The mood was surprisingly upbeat considering the conditions -- tough fishing and rough weather on the way -- but this reporter and Bill Mays, who's back on board helping out with coverage this year, chalked it up to U.S. Open syndrome. That is, the playing field is level, the turnout is good enough for a decent payout and everyone who entered has a huge jump on the rest of the field that plans to compete this year in WON BASS for the three Nitro/Mercury  boat/motor packages on the line one way or another. Biggest winner so far is Gene Buchholz of Hook, Line and Sinker, since the cold weather kept anglers in the warmth of his store and no bass fisherman can resist great tackle and red tag deals to boot.

Not that anglers didn't score by just showing up, since they got over $100 in tackle thanks to Owner, Angler's Arsenal, Ardent, Plano and Excalibur, as shown below.

THE DELTA FLIPPIN' KIT courtesy of Angler's Arsenal and Plano.

NEW BAITS FROM EXCALIBUR AND OWNER were part of the swag given away at the check-in.


To top it off, Buchholz and the local Lion's Club provided a great tri-tip dinner and WON BASS provided the beverages. While the wind blew, the rain held off until just after the draw was completed.

CHRIS RICCI AND THE BARBECUE provided at the check-in for the WON BASS Delta invitational.

Back to prospects for tomorrow, there are a lot of great sticks, young and old, in this event despite the fact many Delta locals backed out at the last minute, not to mention other notable names, mainly from the north, that just couldn't step up to the plate no matter the conditions. In addition, many anglers, both pro and AAA, ventured to the Delta from Southern California, while some of the hottest young, emphasis on young, northern pros are all in. Of course, one reason for the optimism is the "Delta Rats" for the most part are out, with the exception of a handful of young, there's that word again, hot shots ready to roll.

We launch at  7 a.m. tomorrow, or safe light, which could be later with the storm. Stay tuned for updates live from Russo's Marine -- I hate to say this -- weather permitting.

-- Rich Holland

2/4 2:55 p.m. Check-in at Hook, Line & Sinker in Oakley is underway with anglers from Phoenix, AZ to Brentwood, CA  already showing up, including the legendary Dee Thomas. The barbecue is fired up and the tri-tip will start getting sliced about 4 p.m. with the draw at 5. It's cold and the wind and rain are on the way. You can bet the pros will be throwing everything in Gene Buchholz' incredibly well-stocked tackle (and guns and ammo) store to try and get some fish in the boat.

1/30 Daiwa Announces "Beat Mike Folkestad" Award
Mike Folkestad is already up in the Delta for the WON BASS Nitro/Mercury Delta Invitational slated for Feb. 5-6 out of Russo’s Marine.

And while Mike will do his best to win this event just like his many victories on the WON BASS circuit, he’s got a great prize from Daiwa for whoever manages to be the lucky angler who places one spot in front of him.

If no one can “Beat Mike Folkestad” (as in he wins the tournament) then the prize goes to the pro who finishes just behind Mike.

The prize? How about a Daiwa TDA2000A spinning reel with the Daiwa TD-X6101MLFS-C Drop Shot rod? That’s right, the smoothest spinning reel on the market with the classic drop shot rod Folkestad helped Daiwa design. The combo goes for about $340 retail and Mike will be giving the same award at every event on the Pro Circuit this year.

“I like a rod that is light in weight, but not necessarily in action, which should be parabolic,” said Folkestad of his original design input for a drop shot rod. “It should be long – for me 6’10” is ideal, but there are longer ones that work well – and it needs a flexible tip so you shake the bait.”

For the U.S. Open and the Western Classic Daiwa has sweetened the pot even more with a combo that retails for $385. The winner of the Beat Mike Folkestad award will still get the Daiwa TDA2000A spinning reel, but for those two events the reel will be matched with Daiwa’s TD Fuego TDFG721MXS Drop Shot rod. The rod is Daiwa’s latest version of Mike’s original drop shot design No wonder Mike wants them to give the combo away “after” the Open and the Western Classic.

Folkestad will personally present the award at each tournament.

You know the only three-time U.S. Open winner will be there again this July for more glory under the sun and you have got to like his prospects for reaching the Western Classic as one of the 60 qualifiers (30 from each region North and South).

First of all, even though he said he’s been lucky to catch a bass a day so far pre-fishing the Delta – he’s THERE. No one has been more fearless throughout his career when it comes to fishing whatever venue WON BASS puts on the table.

“The fishing will pick up for the tournament, there will be fish caught,” said Folkestad, and no doubt he’ll pick up enough weight to get a hefty chunk of points as insurance heading into the long haul of the Angler of the Year race that culminates with a Nitro bass boat/Mercury outboard combo going to the winner.

The way the points are set up, just about everyone who shows up at the Delta will go away with a good stash of points for both the overall race and the North points division.

And one of the pros will have the distinctionof being better than the rest of the field AND the tough conditions, scoring a win and the recognition that will follow in the pages of Western Outdoor News.

“I started with WON BASS in 1974 the first time Harvey (Naslund) was the director,” said Folkestad. “If it wasn’t for Western Outdoors News and the visibility I got...well Western Outdoor News can make an okay fishermen into a hero.

“When I went national the folks back East already knew who I was and I was able to get endorsements worth up to six figures a year,” added Folkestad. “I’m back here now and it came down to five figures, but it’s all due to WON.

The young guns out there – and there are more and more of them and they are harder and harder to beat – should be fishing the circuit that will give them the most impact,” he said.

And this year, if the young guns beat Mike Folkestad they get not only the satisfaction, but also some quality Daiwa tackle that combines both history and the finest technology.

Tournament check-in, pairing of partners, rules meeting and BBQ will be held at the Hook Line & Sinker at 3100 Main St., Oakley, not at Russo’s as originally announced. Please be advised that the BBQ is hosted courtesy of Gene Buchholtz, owner of the "Hook." All boats are to be off the water at 2 pm on that Thursday, Feb. 4. Tournament check-in will commence at 2 pm at the Hook, Line & Sinker. And, yes, Gene is serving tri tips, potato salad, green salad and rolls — sorry, no hot dogs. Cocktails included.

Harvey Naslund

For hot young pro Chris Zaldain
of San Jose, the WON BASS Delta Invitational is the next stop after a fantastic second place finish at Lake Shasta.

“I didn’t even know there was going to be a tournament, I never heard of a pro event on the Delta in February,” said Zaldain of the Feb. 5 and 6 WON BASS tour stop based out of Russo’s on the Delta. “A co-angler called me up and asked me to fish it with him, that’s how I found out.”

He said his focus was on FLW and it paid off as Zaldain finished just behind Brent Ehrler in the Lake Shasta event.

SMALLMOUTH BASSare a favorite of up and coming pro Chris Zaldain of San Jose, who nailed this pair topped by a 3.24 pounder at the U.S. Open. Zaldain will be looking to keep a hot streak going when he fishes the WON BASS Delta Invitational Feb. 5-6.

“I don’t feel too bad, Brent Ehrler is the best in the world,” noted Zaldain. “It’s too bad the payout was cut from last year, but I’ll settle for $20,000.”

That was just one change made by FLW, which did away with its Stren series, instead putting the National Guard event on that series’ Shasta date in January. The National Guard events come with a closed period that put Shasta off limits for the originally scheduled WON BASS Pro Circuit debut the previous weekend.

Which is the reason the WON BASS Mercury/Nitro Delta Invitational was moved up to February and will run come hell or high water. Or should we say mud and high water?

“I’m going to check it out tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 23). With all this rain it’s going to be like running on peanut butter, but the tides are going to be the same as during the tournament,” noted Zaldain. “It’s probably going to be tough fishing for the tournament, but, hey, the best man wins right?”

And the best man will get one heck of a boost in the race for WON BASS North Division champ, which comes with a Lowrance HDS-7 with Structure Scan and Sirius Weather scan and a Lowrance Endura Out and Back handheld GPS, and the overall WON BASS Angler of the Year title, which is accompanied by a Nitro Z-7 bass boat and Mercury Optimax outboard motor. The top 30 anglers in each WON BASS division qualify for the Western Classic, where the winner also gets a Nitro/Mercury combo.

The other two events in the North Division will be held at Lake Shasta Apr. 2-3 and at Clear Lake in October. The Clear Lake event is the last of the six WON BASS Pro Circuit events and as such is dubbed the “Gran Finale.” As such, yet another Nitro/Mercury combo goes to the Clear Lake winner, while the cash purse remains intact to be distributed from second place on down.

Zaldain’s early success has him in the hunt for Angler of the year on the FLW circuit, which has three events to go.

“I figure I’ll be slugging it out with Ehrler the whole way,” said Zaldain. “But I’m very familiar with two of the places we’ll fish, the Delta and Lake Mead, so that will help.”

Zaldain fished his first WON BASS U.S. Open on Lake Mead last year and said he’s looking forward to the July 17-21 event this summer.

“It was my first time and I had a blast,” said Zaldain, who finished 17th in the Open. “I got second in the poker tournament — You guys are going to have that again aren’t you? — and I caught a smallmouth close to 3 1/2 pounds the first day for some big fish money.”

Smallmouth and muddy water helped Zaldain to his big finish at Shasta, he noted.

“My daily pattern was to go fish the deep, cold water by the dam in the morning with a 1/4-ounce head and a Roboworm,” said Zaldain. “Then I would head to the Pit Arm where the muddy water comes in and throw the rip baits. I did well on the smallmouth there. The second day I got a kicker on a BaitSmith swimbait that really kicked me up in the standings.

“I really like fishing those brown fish, that’s one reason I’m going back to the Open and some friends of mine are going to fish it this year, too,” said Zaldain. “In fact, I’m going to call them and tell them about the Delta and all the stuff WON BASS is giving away this year. Maybe we can get 75 to 80 boats out there.”

For more information and to sign up for the WON BASS Delta Invitational, call Ashley Hartman at (949) 366-0030 ext. 38. You can also find an entry form at

WON BASS sponsor Quantum
raised the stakes for the Feb. 5-6 Delta Invitational even higher as the longtime WON BASS supporter has pushed all in with an amazing supply of product for prizes and giveaways at Pro Circuit events.

Pros and AAAs headed to the Delta for the first WON BASS Pro Circuit event are quickly going to find out they’ll be competing for more than cash.

Quantum’s High Five Award will go the Pro and AAA pairing that posts the heaviest stringer each day. The anglers who weigh the heftiest five-fish limit will be awarded a Quantum spinning rod and reel combo and a Quantum baitcasting combo to split up however they decide. Since the Pro Circuit events are two-day affairs, that means four Quantum rod and reel combos will be given out. This same award will be in place for both the U.S. Open and the Western Classic. That’s a total of 40 Quantum rod and reel combos for the taking.

The WON BASS Mercury/Nitro Delta Invitational will not only kick off the Angler of the Year race and Western Classic qualifying, it will be the first chance for AAAs who moved up to the Pro ranks in 2010 to distinguish themselves. Spurred by a one-time $100 discount on a Pro entry for AAAs who have never fished at the top level (contact Harvey Naslund at for more info on the promotion), the number of former co-anglers launching their own boats is expected to be the biggest in years.

Not only will these new Pros be in charge of their own destinies, the former AAAs who have the best season in both the South and North regions will be recognized with the Quantum Leap Award. While these new pros will have a solid year’s experience to draw on heading into the next season, the Quantum Leap Award winners will also be fully equipped with Quantum gear. The winners from both North and South will each be given two (2) Quantum baitcaster rod and reel combos, two (2) Quantum spinning rod and reel combos and a Quantum hat, jacket and shirt. That’s another eight Quantum rod and reel combos.

Team tournament anglers, don’t worry, Quantum has you covered, too. The anglers that make up the top team in the nine WON BASS Team Tournament regions will each be given a Quantum hat, jacket and a rod and reel combo. That’s 18 more rods and reels from Quantum.

The amazing level of participation by sponsors such as Quantum can only be termed a pleasant surprise and a sure sign things are turning for the better on the WON BASS scene.

It’s well known by now that four Nitro bass boat/Mercury outboards are the backbone of the Pro Circuit events and U.S. Open this season, and besides those two outstanding companies and Quantum, others who have also committed to making the WON BASS Tour a success in 2010 ar Costa Del Mar, Lowrance, Heddon, Owner, Seaguar, Spro, Global Fishmounts, Ardent, Hi-Seas, El Cardon Resort and the Trolling Motor Doctor. You’ll be hearing more about what they’ve put on the table very soon. If you would like to enter the Delta Invitational, contact Ashley Hartman, (949) 366-0030 ext. 38,

— Rich Holland

Long list of pros already committed to the Delta event

A long list of professional bass anglers from across California and the West has already committed to competing in the WON BASS/Mercury/Nitro Delta Invitational to be held out of Russo’s Feb. 5-6 (Friday/Saturday).

Included in the list are legends from the early days of competitive Western bass fishing like Dee Thomas and some of the top new names in the game like Sean Stafford.

The Delta Invitational is the first in a series of six WON (Western Outdoor News) BASS pro circuit events slated for 2010 that will ultimately crown the Angler of Year. That lucky – and good – bass fisherman will be rewarded with a Nitro Z-7 bass boat fully rigged with a Mercury outboard.

The bass fishermen who fish the Delta will have the jump on other Western pros, since the Angler of the Year will be determined by a points system based on the best five finishes out of the six tournaments. Only anglers who fish the Delta will have a chance to “cull” one of their results.

The Delta event will kick off Thursday night at Russo’s with the partner pairing party. All WON BASS pro circuit events are run on a shared weight basis (five fish a day, live release) between pro and AAA (co-angler) fishermen. The pro entry fee is $350 and the AAA entry is $100 and each division has a separate cash payout. For instance, first place in the pro division gets $10,000 and first place in the AAA division gets $2000 (based on a full field of 150 boats).

A new $100 Pro Option will be open to both pros and AAA anglers and will be divided between the top 10 weights after the two days of competition.

Look for lots more info on the Delta and other WON BASS events to follow, along with some great features and tips from the top pros. If you would like to enter the Delta Invitational, contact Ashley Hartman, (949) 366-0030 ext. 38,

— Rich Holland

Reader Comments
Where can I find the exact check-in times and nonboater draw meeting start time?
Ed Schneider
Ed, E-mail
Rich Holland
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