BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing – or, at least, a challenging thing. Gotta have water to fish and current generally stimulates fish, but this week’s tide schedule may prove perplexing for Rayovac FLW Series Western Division anglers on the California Delta.
This massive aqueous network collects California’s Central Valley drainage and funnels it into the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, which converge and make their way out to San Francisco Bay. This coastal connection makes the Delta a tidal fishery with daily ebb and flow bearing great impact on access and fish positioning.
• Rising tides flood the shorelines and allow bass to push farther into the tules, hyacinth mats and other shallow cover, while outgoing water drains the shallows and pulls fish to the outer edges of vegetation or the nearby channels.
• Water moving up or down positions baitfish, so predators tend to feed more aggressively once an incoming or outgoing tide gains momentum.
• Bass are generally more relaxed with high water over their backs, but they become increasingly wary as the water falls.
• Incoming tides are generally murkier, while outgoing water – filtered by the vegetation – usually runs clearer.
The week’s big moon phase (full last night) has delivered the usual round of strong tides. For all three days of the tournament, anglers will face super-high morning tides and afternoon lows falling below the mean low tide level (aka “negative tides”). Translation: Lots of water in the early morning followed by outgoing cycles with screaming current for most of the day.
This morning saw a high tide of 3.62 feet near the tournament site on Frank’s Tract about an hour before the 6 a.m. takeoff. The water will fall to -0.36 feet by 12:43. Exact levels and schedules vary Throughout the Delta, but the common theme of early high water and huge outgoing cycles will run fairly consistent.
Depending on their check-in times, anglers will catch an hour or two of today’s afternoon incoming cycle. However, because tides advance a little less than an hour each day, day two will offer less incoming tide and day three will lose that chapter entirely.
“We’ve already seen the first big wave of fish spawn, but there’s still a lot of prespawn fish looking to move up,” Reese said. “This warmer weather has them ready but the ones I saw in practice weren’t locked down anywhere; they’re still pretty skittish.”
Reese said he’ll take advantage of the higher water to fish likely spawning areas while the fish are less wary. On the lower stages, he’ll go sight fishing.
Today will see extremely hot conditions with minimal wind, so it’ll be a scorcher. Here’s a look at some of the tactics anglers will employ:
Zack Thompson: Looking mainly for post-spawn bass, he’s committed to a topwater assault with a frog, buzz toad and a wakebait.
Ken Mah: Expecting a mix of prespawn, spawn and postspawn fish, he’ll try to grab an early limit on a crankbait and then look for bigger fish in the afternoon by punching mats and throwing big topwaters.
Matt Newman: Leveraging the abundance of fry (newly hatched bass), the rod builder from Agoura Hills, Calif. will use a buzz toad to cover water, scatter fry and thereby locate the bass guarding them. He’ll then focus on the area with a topwater frog.
James Tate: The California co-angler, won his division on the Delta in 2012. He’ll focus his efforts on outside grass lines with a Senko, a dropshot and a frog.
Anglers will take off from Russo’s Marina located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island, Calif., at 6 a.m. daily. Weigh-ins will be held at the launch site beginning at 2 p.m. each day. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
The Rayovac FLW Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the opportunity to fish in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. The 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship is being held Oct. 30-Nov. 1 on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville, Ala.
Sunrise: 5:55 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 68 degrees
Expected high temperature: 96 degrees
Water temperature: 67-71 degrees
Wind: W 5-10 mph
Day’s outlook: Mostly sunny