STOCKTON, Calif. — In a tight grind on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, better known as the California Delta, the top anglers fishing the Wild West Bass Trail College Team Series tied during the event held April 14, 2019.

Launching out of Ladd’s Marina in Stockton, the team of Tyler Wood and Zion Jerge of De La Salle High School tied with Herbie Leblanc and Tshu Xiong representing the University of California at Merced. Each team brought in five-bass tournament limits weighing 13.38 pounds.

“It was a grind, but we stuck it out and picked up the bites when we needed them,” Wood confirmed. “We burned a lot of fuel looking for fish.”

“We caught fish on varied lures, but it was mainly a soft-plastic bite,” Jerge echoed.

Leblanc and Xiong caught all of their fish on either wacky-rigged Senkos or a Zoom Baby Brush Hogs. They also had to search for their fish, picking up one bass here and another one there, but did get several good bites in one spot.

“We flipped the Senko around brush on the inner weed line and flipped the Baby Brush Hog in the tulies,” Leblanc explained. “We caught our first fish at about 10 a.m. Then we caught two big ones and one more at about 1 p.m. After that, we just grinded it out to get one more bite with 30 minutes to go to get our limit.”

In third place, Austin Crane and Tyler Firebaugh of Chico State University brought in a five-fish limit going 11.34 pounds. They also roamed the lake looking for fish in the shallows.

“We ran history today, fishing spots where we caught fish before,” Firebaugh said. “We’d catch a couple in an area and then go to another area and catch a couple more. We were looking for prespawn bass. All of the keepers came shallow.”

“We didn’t catch a limit until about 1 p.m. and caught our big one about five minutes before we had to quit,” Crane added. “That helped a lot. We caught the big one right on top of a weed line on a swim jig. We found a big one on a bed and tried to catch it for about an hour, but never did.”

The best Wild West Bass Trail College Team Series anglers will compete again in the trail championship to be held later this year at Clear Lake. The largest natural freshwater lake entirely within California and one of the oldest lakes in North America, Clear Lake covers 68 square miles or about 43,500 acres. About 19 miles long and eight miles wide, the lake drops to about 60 feet deep in places. Clear Lake traditionally ranks high among the best bass lakes in the nation.

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By John N. Felsher