CA Delta report by Christopher Evola

Comprehensive California delta fishing report and techniques for pre-spawn, post frontal Florida strain largemouth bass. 

Date: March 27, 2017 

Location: California Delta

Water temperature: 55-59 degrees 

Water visibility: 0-1′ 

Tide: outgoing 

Air temperature: 49-62 degrees 

Wind: 7-15 mph gusting to 25 mph out of the Northwest 

Moon phase: 🌑 New moon 

Conditions: POST FRONTAL 

The month of March was starting out to be exceptional for bass fishing on the California delta. Large stringers in the thirty-pound range were rewarding local tournament anglers. Several local tournaments required a minimum of twenty-five pounds to even have an opportunity at a paycheck. Water temperatures were warming nicely into upper fifties and in some areas into the upper sixties. The first wave of pre-spawn buck bass along with a few big females transitioned from their secondary breaks outside their wintering holes on up into the shallows to begin looking for a bedroom. 

Florida strain largemouth bass being the predator fish they are become extremely easy to catch when in this state. They don’t share their spawning areas with any other fish and the buck bass will do anything and everything to protect their spawning areas. The big female bass will hang back and wait for the bucks to do their thing, and if I forage such as a crawfish, tule perch, or bluegill presents itself, the big female will take the opportunity and feed. Once the buck bass has made a bed he will wait in that area to be chosen by a female bass. The female bass will choose a bed with a buck bass present and courtship will begin between the two. 

Everything was setting up nicely and anglers were reportedly seeing large females on beds in all the flooded ponds. I too partook in some of the pre-spawn activities, catching nice size hens on the Optimum baits Furbit popping frog, and the River2sea Whopper Plopper. Just when everything seemed as if it was going as planned here comes the spring rain storms. A double header set of storms hit the California delta dropping three quarters of an inch of rain in some areas. The overnight low dropped down to the low forties and an artic wind began to blow from the north. Water temperatures plummeted down into the low fifties, and water clarity due to the recent storms was nearly nonexistent. Anglers began to struggle and several tournaments were won with weights ranging from seventeen to twenty-one pounds which is way below average for this time of year. 

With the bite being as tuff as it was due to the post frontal conditions, I knew it was going to be a long tedious grind to catch a good bag.  Most anglers I know see this as a hindrance, but I see this an opportunity to go out and learn. 

I launched my boat in the central delta and blasted south. My plan was to target dead end slough where there was thick healthy submerged grass such as egeria densa otherwise known as Brazilian pond weed present. More specific to these areas I was also looking for banks that were east facing and adjacent to spawning flats. The reason why I chose to target these areas is simple. With the bass setting up the way they were prior to the recent storms, I knew the bass would be positive feeding fish. The bass that were still transitioning from their wintering patterns would become neutral feeding or in a negative feeding state, which would make the bass extremely difficult to catch. The reason I chose east facing banks, which many of you already know, is because the water warms up faster on those banks due to more sun exposure. I’ve found this is extremely important when you’ve had a recent dramatic drop in water temperature. I’ve found that even a half degree increase in water temperature during post frontal conditions can be the key to getting more bites. 

The first bank I pulled up to had scattered grass, rip rap rock, and with the high tide it had a five-foot-wide trough. My bait of choice was a River2sea biggie series crankbait in delta craw color. I made the longest casts I could trying to cover the maximum amount of water targeting the center of the trough. I caught several buck bass within the first thirty minutes of fishing but the largest was maybe two pounds. I knew I was on a good bank because in the past I’ve seen and caught several fish in the six to eight-pound range in that area. I had zero visibility in that area so I was unable to see if there were any spawners present. I hopscotched up the slough to banks which were nearly identical in habitat. I caught a couple smaller bass on my crankbait. The tide continued to fall and my trough dwindled down to nearly nonexistence. I knew in the back of my mind the big ones weren’t on those spawning flats, but I needed to prove it to myself so I could focus on my primary technique which would be flipping. 

I put my Dobyns Champion Series 736 cranking rod back in my rod locker, and took out my Dobyns Champion Series 805 Flip/Punch, and my Dobyns Champion Extreme XP 745 Heavy Jig Rod. Both rods were paired with Abu Garcia Revo Rockets for maximum efficiency and power. 

My punch set up consisted of, 70 pound Fitzgerald braid, paycheck baits punch stop, 1 ounce River2sea tungsten trash bomb, 4/0 Gamakatzu extra heavy cover flipping hook which was tied using a snell knot. My bait of choice was a Nemesis baits bullet craw in a black/blue color. 

My jig set up consisted of, 25-pound test Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon. My jig of choice was a TNT Baits Wada Jig, which is a custom hand tied jig designed and manufactured by master guide and delta legend Andy Cuccia. Due to nonexistent water clarity, I chose the larger profile Wada Bomb Jig which was all black in color.

With two rods on the deck negating from any further distractions, I went back to the section of bank where I first started fishing first thing in the morning. The tide was about half way out exposing a more defined grass line. There were also large holes in the grass which were present along with some scattered hyacinth which was in its decomposing state. 

I started off by pitching my jig on the edge of the grass line and in the holes in the grass. Both areas were productive and I boated two fish over four pounds in the first fifty yard stretch of bank. The bass struck the bait on the fall which gave me the intuition to speed up my presentation allowing me to cover even more water. 

I came to a section of bank where no holes were present in the grass and the grass appeared to be more congregated. I set down my jig rod and picked up my big stick. I began flipping my bait into the grass mats in various distances from the edge. I knew the bass were buried in the grass but it wasn’t clear exactly where. Approximately thirty minutes went by without a bite. 

With the tide, almost completely out I started up the big motor and ran down the slough to an area adjacent to a big spawning flat. The area I pulled up on was a classic forty-five-degree angle delta bank which was substantially deeper, however the same well defined grass line was present. I began flipping my one ounce River2sea trash bomb weight into the heart of the matted grass. My rod immediately doubled over. I set the hook and landed a beautiful six-pound bass. I continue down the bank which was set up the same. I preceded to catch several more bass in the four and five-pound class. Bites were steady but lots of water needed to be covered. 

All in all, it was a productive day but I never got the big kicker I was after. Catching bass in heavy cover using big heavy duty equipment is one of my favorite ways to catch them. Hopefully this fishing reports helps you catch more fish next time you’re out on the water. 

RB Bass Angler,

Christopher Anthony Evola 

 

Delta fishing report by Christopher Evola 3/12/17

Water temp: 56-59
Water Clarity: 6″-2′ 
Air Temp: 56-74 degrees 
Wind: Northwest 2-7 mph 
Tide: Outgoing
Moon: Full ?

My brother Justin Ross and I, launched my boat at 0645 hours out of the Tiki Lagun Marina & Resort, located at 12988 W. Mcdonald  Road, Stockton, California, 95206. 

After launching we made our way out to the North side of Mildred Island. We started off throwing reaction baits such as the River2sea Ish Monroe Square Bill in delta craw color, and the River2sea Ish Monroe Bling Spinnerbait in the cold blooded color. We had zero bites on these baits in the first thirty minutes of fishing. I knew there were fish in the area because it’s a well known spot by almost everyone who fishes the delta. With the water warming the way it has, the full moon, stable weather, and high tide, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why they wouldn’t eat a moving bait. 

Without hesitation I knew exactly what needed to be done. The warm weather had me so excited for the pre spawn I forgot about winter transition. The bass needed to transition from their wintering holes up into the secondary breaks. From the secondary breaks they needed to feed on a forage that provides high calories, minerals, magnesium, and calcium which will sustain them through the spawning process. They needed to feed on crawfish which were becoming more active with the warm weather. I looked at my brother Justin and quickly put away all my rods but one. The only rod I left on the deck was my Dobyns 735 matched with my Abu Garcia Revo Rocket. This combination compliments my 1/2 ounce TNT Baits Dragon Fly Wada Jig extremely well.  This particular color is my go to when the bass are in their winter transitioning stages. 

We pulled up to a break on the north side of Mildred where the water was ripping out of the island. The rocks on the break were barely exposed and several scattered  tules were present. I pitched my jig into a hole between the tules and rock about the size of a basketball. I felt a small tick so I leaned in and set, boat flipping a three pounder onto the deck of the boat. I looked over at my brother Justin and I told him we’re throwing jigs the rest of the day. He agreed and we continued down the bank catching several three to three and a half pounders. The tide was over half way out so we decided to run to Mandeville. We pulled up on the south side of Mandeville and it just looked perfect for a big girl to be present. It had a hard rock break scattered tules and a hard well defined grass line five feet off the bank. This area is what is referred to as a trough. I pitched my jig into the trough popped it twice and my line shot under the boat. I cranked on my Revo Rocket twice and leaned back with a cracking hook set. My rod doubled over and a nice chunk largemouth jumped right next to the boat. I flipping her up onto the deck of the boat and was greeted by a fist bump from my brother. That’s a seven he stated and I obliged him as I slipped her carefully into the livewell. As we made our way down the bank we caught several more three pounders along with several fish in the two pound class. As the tide fell out even further we noticed the fish were reacting towards a more aggressive swimming action on our jigs. This was beneficial because it allowed us to cover more water quicker rather then a traditional slow retrieve. 

We came to an area where the trough was no deeper then two feet and there was lots of wood present. My brother flipped in between two limbs which were submerged and his line jumped approximately two feet. He leaned in and set the hook as he landed a nice largemouth which weighed five and a half pounds. We ran out of good looking water so we started up the motor and blasted back towards Mildred. We settled in an area we call three ponds which is located Northeast to Mildred. This area is basically tules with mixed in grass but the exterior has deep water around it which makes it ideal for winter transitioning bass. We fishing there for approximately twenty minutes when we doubled almost simultaneously on twin four pounders. With limited time before we had to leave, we took a quick photo and ended the day. 

If I had only one tip to give it would be this. Just because the water is warming rapidly and there is a few fish getting ready to bed, doesn’t mean they all are. Keep an open mind while your out on the water and always stay optimistic. Hope this fishing report helps you catch more fish, and good  luck out there next time your on the water.

RB Bass Pro Staff Angler 

Christopher Anthony Evola