First Trip to the CA Delta
by: Jeff Jones 7/3/2013
The event was the California BASS Nation State Team Qualifying tournament #1, to decide a State Team to represent CA at the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional Tournament. Bass Club Anglers from near and far attended this tournament in hopes of being one of the 12 anglers to move on to the divisional, where the Top Angler at the divisional event will go on to represent the state of California at the B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship Tournament and a chance at competing in the prestigious Bassmasters Classic.
On the first day I fished with a friend from my local bass club, Martin Brian from the Ventura County Bass Club, as we tried to figure out a game plan for the next day’s tournament. Martin has fished The Delta before so had some good areas to start looking. Having never fished tidal water, I was surprised to see so many big ships so far inland as we passed by everything from little Zodiac’s to ocean capable cruisers to a small cruise ship to tankers and cargo ships. For a new Delta angler it was an experience. Every shoreline looks so similar and the Delta’s channel twists and bends, its sloughs and backwaters, kept me lost all day. If I had been navigating on my own I would have spent at least twice as much time getting from one place to another with map and GPS being constantly referenced.
By the end of the day we had successfully eliminated backwater areas, as we failed to get a single bite from areas that did not have moving water but we did have bites when the current was present. This was important to success the following day. The tough fishing and smaller size bass were likely also affected by 104-degree air temps both days.
The tournament is a draw format, meaning that a boater and non-boater are paired at a random drawing and will fish together. Being my first time fishing The Delta, I elected to enter as a non-boater so I could learn from more experienced anglers.
I drew a club member from Auburn who did know how to fish tides and because of Ed Peterson we were fishing productive water all day and I learned even more about tidal water bass fishing. Ed had found a lot of bass in practice but was concerned that they would be too small to have a chance at winning the tournament. I, on the other hand, had had a few bites in practice but had not landed a single bass, although Martin had landed many.
We started out fishing an incoming tide along a bank mixed with rock and reeds. Ed quickly hooked up with a keeper and was on the board. The incoming tide was raging and even a momentary lift of the foot on the trolling motor pedal would send Ed’s Ranger coasting backwards; finding a small eddy helped to find fish.
I mixed my presentations up with flipping a Chigger Craw and casting a crank bait, but most of the time I threw a white buzzbait. In practice I had used a black buzzbait, which caused some vicious slashes and strikes but the bass must have been hitting the blades or just slashing with a closed mouth as every single one failed to get hooked even though I had a custom made buzzbait with a TroKar hook on it.
Ed got another bass and a short one before I finally got hit, but it was the largest one of my day. We had moved to another area and started in current but had moved around a point, near but not in the current, where the water was calm. I tossed the buzzbait in the middle of four telephone pole size wood columns and got an immediate reaction strike from a 2.89 lb. Delta largemouth. A little while later, back in the current and casting near cover, another bass reacted to the bait and I had two.
I have to be thankful to Ed Peterson, who was uncommonly generous as we kept moving around to different areas that he felt were good places to try the buzzbait and kept telling me to take the front and “get your limit, get that big kicker.”
The big kicker bass never hit, but I did get a limit thanks to Ed’s help, all on the buzzbait. I am very happy for this since it was my first time fishing there, and on the day before I failed to land anything. I ended up in 10th place overall in my first CA B.A.S.S. Nation Event as a CA Bass club member.
Thanks to Martin and Ed for a great time on the water and the Tournament Director Mike Landy for putting on the event. I look forward to a return to The Delta!
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