The "Senko de Mayo" celebration on the California Delta brought over 300 fishermen, women and children to the tidal waters for the 2013 Yamamoto Big Bass Challenge. The event - a competition of fish catching and strategy - allows anglers to chose their own weigh-in time each day. Scales open and close hourly from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., while inviting anglers to bring in their biggest, any time they choose.
With this year's full field, the event paid six hourly winners, each day for the top -5 - 1st - $500, 2nd- $350, 3rd - $300, 4th - $200 and last in the money - $150 with the Overall Big Fish earning $3,000. At the closing of the scales on Day Two, each day's six hourly winners of the $500 are gathered for a drawing of the Super 12, for a grand prize of $10,000 cash.
The fun and excitement of the event drew anglers of all skill levels. The scales welcomed bass from touring pros and fishing families alike.
Day One was warmer, nearing 90-degrees with moderate NW winds. Day Two temps dropped nearly 15-degrees, the cloud cover settled in and the SW winds eased slightly to 10 MPH.
On Saturday, contestants saw consistent weights throughout the day with two of the 30 fish that earned checks in the five pound class range and the remaining bass all in the six and seven pound range. The day-to-day condition change shook up the fishing on Sunday with an influx of most of the biggest bass of the event at the first weigh-in of the day.
Three of the four biggest of the Challenge were put on the scales in Sunday's 9 o'clock hour. Two nine pounders and a eight took the top trio of payouts. Derek Dagneau's 9.17 won the hour, Back to Class Delta guide Bobby Barrack took runner -up position with a nine-even and rounding out the top-3 of the first hour was Nick Abaro's 8.47.
Dagneau's 9.17 bit a Yamamoto spinnerbait about 6:45 a.m. in a shallow area, near rocks. Barrack's came about 7:30 a.m. from 12-feet on a Red Yamamoto Craw and Abaro's was his first in the morning from shallow water with a six-inch, wacky-rigged green pumpkin Senko.
Cleaning up with the most catches that cashed in the event was Steven Yee. New to the Yamamoto Big Bass Challenge, Yee pocketed three of Sunday's payouts with a 2nd place check for a 6.81, a 3rd place check for a 6.49 and a 5th place check for a 5.66.
Fishing with teammate Victor Fong, Yee found Saturday a struggle and left his known water from Day One to find new water on Day Two. He also upsized his Senko from a five-inch to a six. The adjustment worked out well for him.
"I got all of them in one spot," stated Yee. "I was fishing a bank in the Central Delta, about a quarter mile long. They started biting at about daylight and it lasted until about 10 a.m."
All of Yee's fish hit a six-inch, black with blue flake Senko that he drug on the bottom. Putting his fish in the well prior to the 10 a.m., Yee hit the 10 o'clock weigh-in with his first one, then hung out in Frank's, making the 11 o'clock weigh-in for his second payday. He then moved into Little Frank's coming back for the final weigh-in of the day for his 3rd cash.
The Day Two noon hour greeted the first and only double-digit, an 11.56.
The Overall Big Fish honors went to Luke Ellison. "I caught it about an hour and a half ago," said Ellison at the 12 o'clock weigh-in. "I didn't want to leave that area; the bite was too good. I got the first one and it was a good one. I casted back and got this one and I just didn't want to stop. I wasn't going to take any chances while I was still stickin' 'em."
Ellison's big fish area produced four quality bass, including the eleven. She came out of six-feet of water, approx. five feet off the bank and was tempted by a weightless, Texas-rigged, six-inch, watermelon Senko.
"The fight took too long," recalled Ellison. "It almost gave me a heart attack. It probably really only lasted a minute, but it jumped, shook, rolled - everything. As soon as I could see it, I knew this was it. It was the biggest bass that I've ever caught."
Ellison fished the event with five-year-old son, Logan for their first team tournament. While dad put the watermelon Senko into action, Logan threw a black and blue one. He was described by Luke as a lucky charm.
THE $10 GRAND
The $10,000 Grand Prize was drawn by Sunday's 9 a.m. winner Derek Dagneau. At first college student, Dagneau was overwhelmed with the win and stated, "I'm not sure what I will do with the money; I've never had $10,000 before." After thinking about it a few minutes he had plans to save some money for school, buy his girlfriend and mom something and continue to fish. Dagneau fished only one day of the event with his father. It was a profitable day on the water.