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 

 

2016 BBT T.O.C recap by Ron Howe

In 2016 I fished the Delta Wine Region of the Best Bass Tournament Trail. It was a up and down season, My Partner Bob Miller and I just didn’t really have any great finishes, but we did manage to finish 3rd in the points for the AOY Race. The Delta has been so up and down for me over the years. I win a lot of practices and I get teased about that plenty, But in 2016 at the Championship I got the last laugh! I was able to put 2 solid days together and it was good enough to win the 2016 BBT T.O.C we had 21.80 on day 1 with a 8.55lb Kicker fish the biggest Bass of the Event and we had 21.28 on day 2 with 4 Solid fish and a 2lber. I really didn’t think it was enough to win, I felt like we needed 23-24 Lbs on day 2 to win. The BBT and its Staff did a great job keeping us in suspense right to the end.

ron-howe-8lber-png

I spent as much time on the Delta as I could , from May thru summer into Fall. I was determined to win a Championship , its a bucket list thing! Right? So every chance I got on the weekends to hit the Delta I did. I fished Wild West Pro-Am ,BBT, UFC, Snag Proof Open, Tracy Bass, and The River2Sea Open.  It was a odd year for me, I was catching more quality Bass in the 3 lb range than I had in a long time, but the 7,8 Lbers were non existent for me. I was able to find key areas punching that had Bites. They sometimes would be 2 Lbers and other times they were 3’s with some 4’s , but no Big ones. As I kept at this , These areas always put a solid fish in the boat, and then I finally got a few Big Bites, but I could not get the fish out of the Heavy Cover and would go home Scratching My head. Finally in the Championships the River2Sea Trash Bomb and Various Craw baits with a new Faster Tipped 7-11 ABU Garcia Villian Rod made the difference! The Big Bites came, and they all went in the live well. My Partner Bob Miller and I had been chasing a Championship for years and we came close once in Second Place, we never forgot that Feeling. Finally The Monkey is off my Back and We won a Championship and $20,000.00 Dollars!  Thanks to the BBT for Hosting a great event. Thanks to all of my Sponsors for your Support! Thanks to my Partner Bob Miller. Most of all Thank my Mom for getting me into fishing as a kid!

My Sponsors are:

Christophers Construction , Greater Bay Protective Services, Monsterfishingtackle.com, Ima, Optimum Baits, Persuader Baits, River2Sea, TTi Blakemore, Daiichi Hooks, ABU Garcia, Berkley, Trilene, The Rod Glove, GB Galaxie Graphics

 

 

Delta Fishing Report

Delta Map

The California Delta has been fishing up and down if your tossing a Frog around! The last 30 days the delta has been blasted by many different brands of top water Frogs for the UFC and the Snag Proof Open. Some days the bite has been good and some days it has been tough. The evening Bite has by far been the best, but you can pick up fish all day long if your patient and know what to look for. Fish are from Post Spawn to Summer mode and in many cases not where you would normally catch them this time of year. There has been a lot of short bites and missed hooksets. With that being said when you connect it can be a good one! We caught fish mostly in the current the last 30 days and all in Open water. The mat or Cheese bite has not been on when were on the water. Stay in the current for the most Bites. Fish slower, these fish have been pressured and boat traffic on the weekends has been crazy. Popping Frogs in River 2 Sea, Snag Proof and Furbit the Frog by Optimum baits , Bleeding Frogs and Bobby’s Perfect frog have all been working. Each day the fish change a little and you have to adapt, Dark frogs early and late and white frogs in mid day. Use your favorite Frog with your Spiderwire and go have some fun!

Ron Howe and Kevin Cornwell    

Ron 5er

Kevin 6er