By Andy ‘Cooch’ Cuccia
Springtime bass fishing on the California Delta can be nothing short of exhilarating. The opportunity to catch a double-digit fish of a lifetime is greatly enhanced when the big hens of the river move shallow to spawn. This river system can appear to be seemingly endless with over 1,000 miles of shoreline, and for many anglers, the Delta can be feast or famine during this time. The successful anglers on this system and other large bodies of water don’t let that get in their way and develop patterns that can be used in many different areas of their chosen body of water. In this case the California Delta. With constantly changing weather conditions, understanding the seasonal migration habits of the bass will help you better develop various patterns that will work on any given day. Most anglers develop one pattern and then duplicate that pattern throughout the week. Problem here is, when that weather change occurs, the fishing activity changes and that pattern does not work for a few days. More often then not, this unfortunately happens on tournament day.
The Delta is a very versatile fishery with a wide array of habitat and structure which offer the bass many cover options especially when the spawning season approaches. On the lakes it’s easy. Go find the shallow northern banks and look for those bedding bass up shallow. Not necessarily true here. Delta bass tend to prefer western and southern banks. Keep in mind; a bass is a bass, no matter where they live. They just live in different neighborhoods. In lakes, bass migrate from the deeper main lake areas to the creek channels leading into the shallow bays then up into the shallows to spawn. Similar concept on the Delta but it’s just the opposite. The majority of bass here will hang out in the deeper channels of all the river arms surrounding Franks Tract, Holland Cut, Sandmound, Piper, Dutch Slough, False River, Washington Cut, Connection and Old River. Major spawning occurs in the big shallow lakes; Franks Tract, Big Break, Mildred, Mandeville, Venice Reach, Sherman Lake to name a few.
Bass migrate from these deeper winter areas into the shallow main lake areas to spawn. Once the spawn is complete, they will begin to transition and make their way back to their deeper haunts. Therefore, instead of leaving the main lake to go shallow and spawn, the bass here come into the main lakes to spawn. This now gives you a great starting point to developing various patterns that will work. You must also keep in mind that less then 30 percent of the Delta’s bass population are ever up shallow spawning at the same time and 90 percent of the bass fishermen in the spring will go up and target those shallow spawning fish. To be successful here, you must become part of that 10 percent who are fishing for 70 percent of the Delta’s bass population.
Senkos or a dropshot rig are very productive baits for those bedding bass but each of them work under different conditions. When water temperatures are rising and the bass are building or sitting on their beds, the Senko is deadly. Give us a cold front and a drop in water temperature, the dropshot shines above all else in the shallows. When neither of them will produce the kind of bite you’re looking for, then it’s time to go to those other patterns where the fish are transitioning from deep to shallow. Bouncing jigs and big Texas rigged plastics on the tulle covered islands is a great tactic. This is a pattern that will be consistent all spring long. Remember this next pattern especially when most guys are pounding the bank. Chucking and winding various swimbaits and wakebaits in the grass flats is a proven tactic for landing some giant pre-spawn bass. Another variation to this, and a great method for catching those staging fish, is to toss a lipless crankbait on the edge of weed lines near deep water.
Springtime, more than any other time of the year, offers the avid bass angler a wide array of opportunities to catch numbers of fish as well as big fish on the Delta. Get out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to develop the confidence in other baits and patterns that will keep you consistently catching fish when your tried-and-true methods fail. The more patterns you can develop in the springtime, the more fun you’ll have fishing day-in and day-out.
Keep A Tight Line! Cooch www.coochsfishing.com
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