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Massive 12.58-pound largemouth wins NorCal 90 tournament at Oroville

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ/WON Staff WriterPublished: Apr 10, 2019

OROVILLE — Dennis Helms of Chico chose an excellent time to catch a new personal record 12.58-pound largemouth bass, easily propelling his team to victory in the NorCal 90 bass tournament at Oroville on Saturday.

Helms fished the tournament with backseater Brent Foster of Paradise, and the pair hadn’t had a chance to pre-fish. It didn’t matter. After blast-off, the duo headed into the South Fork past the Enterprise bridge, caught a limit and starting culling. They had 9.5 pounds when it was time to start fishing their way back to the weigh-in.


dennishelmesofDENNIS HELMS OF Chico is all smiles after easily winning Saturday's NorCal 90 bass tournament on Lake Oroville on the strength of a beautiful 12.58-pound largemouth. The fish was caught on a Lucky Craft ripbait tied onto floss, light 8-pound line. He fished with Brent Foster of Paradise, who is holding some of their 5-fish limit that went 20.43 pounds. WON PHOTO PAUL LEBOWITZ

“I stopped at a couple of spots to throw a ripbait. Suddenly it was there. I didn’t know what it was it was so heavy. Ten minutes later we got it in and the rest is history,” Helms said.


Helms said his Lucky Craft ripbait in the Ghost Minnow color pattern was tied onto 8-pound line, which must have made for an equally nervous and exciting fight.


Helms and Foster weighed 5 fish for a total of 20.43 pounds, massively eclipsing the rest of the NorCal 90 37 boat field. Robby Merwin and Rich Hunter were second with 12.22 pounds, and Ryan Friend and Matt McKenzie were third with 10.69 pounds.


Retired guide Craig Bentley said the better bassing has been in the South Fork, where the water is cleaner and warmer, up to 56 degrees. Secondary points are producing well, and the larger fish are holding about 40 feet from the bank. “They look fat, full of bait fish,” he said.


Brett Brady of Bare Bones Guide Service said he fished Oroville on Thursday for several limits of landlocked king salmon. The fish were holding shallow, at 15 to 25 feet. “Nothing big, but they are there. I caught them on custom spoons by RD Tackle, green hoochies and dodgers.”


On Sunday the lake elevation was 854 feet, just two feet higher than last week, and the stable water level should be a boon to fishing.


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