Delta Duel Underway - Major League Fishing

Delta Duel Underway

Western Division finale set to be a good one
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May 19, 2016 • Chris Burgan • Archives

Day one of the Costa FLW Series event on the California Delta presented by Power-Pole kicked off with anglers in high hopes of finding some Delta giants . While the Delta is one of the more famed fisheries in the country, it’ll still test the abilities of the 109 pros and co-anglers that blasted off from Russo’s Marina this morning. This tournament will be about overcoming frontal conditions and dialing in bass that are in all three stages of the spawn in order to claim the top prize.

About the Fishery

The Cal Delta is a bass fishing tournament stadium unlike any other. As a tidal fishery, water levels and current strengths fluctuate throughout the day. The over 1,000 miles from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in the delta system allow for different structure and cover throughout the body of water. The Delta’s vast size also makes it the perfect home for a large number of aquatic vegetation. The vegetation varies from year to year which affects where mats set up as well as how the current flows through certain areas. It is an ever changing fishery, so putting your time in on the water is key.

Current Conditions

In days leading up to the event, the weather was sunny but there was enough wind to put some chop on the water. Yesterday, the wind died off and gave the anglers one last practice day with clear and calm conditions.

As anglers launched their boats this morning, the temperature was 53 degrees with little cloud cover but the wind clipped at 15 miles per hour.

The next two days are expected to drop in a temperature and increase in cloud cover with constant wind. Overnight lows on Saturday for the final day of competition are expect to dip into the 40s while highs reach towards the 70s.

Today’s high tide, according to the marker nearest to takeoff, occurred at 4:37 am. The anglers will have an outgoing tide until the 11:45 low tide.


Tactics in Play

With a new moon bringing up another wave of bass to spawn, there will be fish in all three stages of the spawn. Anglers in the field can fish to what to fits their strengths.

Few anglers spoke of targeting prespawn bass that will likely be staging along tule lines and can be targeted with finesse or moving baits.

Sight-fishing will be a decent player this week. However, the ability to sight fish will be heavily impacted by wind as well as the tide. A lower tide means anglers can spot holes in the weeds or bass beds easier. A higher tide benefits those with bass marked on beds, as the fish’s visibility of the angler is lessened – yet making it tougher to see the fish react to the bait.

There are bass on beds right now but the question is how many. A new wave of fish is moving up to spawn, but many of the Delta’s bigger bass already have. Though, if an angler can get on some quality bed fish right out the gate before the wind gets up it could make a big difference.

Throwing topwaters for bass guarding fry will also be a popular approach. Moving baits like squarebills and vibrating jigs worked around weed edges can often be effective as well. A lower tide should help the postspawn bite as it is easier to see the bass fry.

Finesse baits, like Senkos and drop-shots can be stellar postspawn baits, but many pros are looking to cover a lot of water and don’t have time for the slower approach. Those baits could be players among the tournament’s co-anglers.

The pros should have their pick on what fits their strengths, but according to Western Division stick Joe Uribe Jr., anglers may need to switch it up.

“I haven’t found a bunch in one area, it’s just one here or one there,” Uribe says. “It’s going to be junk-fishing at it’s finest, with guys mixing in spawn and postspawn fish.”

Critical Factors

Jumping out to a quick start – In spawning tournaments, especially those with sight-fishing, running to and catching big marked bass early on day one is crucial. Day one is likely the only time possible to see a 30-pound limit.

Catching a kicker – The Cal Delta holds double-digit sized fish. One of those fish can change the course of the tournament.

Dock Talk

Longtime Western Division standout Jimmy Reese predicts big weights on day one, with weaning weights the following days.

“They’re going to whack ‘em,” he says with a grin. “I think it’ll go 30 pounds on the first day then 22 and 18.”

An estimate of 20 pounds on the first days was a common estimate to make the top-10 cut.


Tournament Details

Format: All 109 boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6 a.m. PT

Takeoff Location: Russo’s Marina, 3995 Willow Road, Bethel Island, CA 94511

Weigh-in Time: 2 p.m. on days one and two; 2:30 p.m. on day three

Weigh-in Location: Russo’s Marina


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