The Cal Delta is Looking Good - Major League Fishing

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

Healthy grass and big bass make perfect recipe for Western Division finale
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Greg Troughton Photo by Jesse Schultz. Angler: Gregory Troughton.
September 25, 2019 • Kyle Wood • Toyota Series

This week the Costa FLW Series Western Division will conclude with the final event of the season on the California Delta. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, should showcase a different side of the Delta, given that most of the Western Division tournaments on the famed fishery take place in the spring. That said, last year’s event on the Delta fell on nearly identical dates as this year and could be a good tease for how things may shake out this time around. 

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Greg Troughton

Lay of the water

With the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Calaveras and Mokelumne rivers feeding the Delta, there is no shortage of water to fish. All told, there are about 1,000 miles of navigable waterways that feature all types of bass habitat from natural to manmade. 

Since the Delta is connected to the Pacific Ocean, it is a tidal fishery. That can play a role in the tournament, as veterans of the Delta may choose to run the best tide to capitalize on prime bites, while others may pick an area and hunker down all day. 

Anglers on the Delta can pick an approach that plays to theirs strengths and go with it. From cranking to punching and everything in between, a 20-plus-pound bag is possible doing whatever you’re comfortable with. 


Ken Mah

Pregame speculation

The fact that this event is taking place in the fall is a slight curveball for those who have fished other FLW events on the Delta over the years. Fall transition can be a tough time almost anywhere in the country, but that may not necessarily be the case this week. 

“The fish are starting to transition into their fall patterns, which could make the fishing a little bit tougher than usual,” says Wade Curtiss, who won the 2015 Costa FLW Series Cal Delta tournament. “Most guys will either hunker down and fish one area all day – flooded islands like Franks Tract, Mandeville or Mildred – or they’ll run the tide.”

Still, Ken Mah, who holds seven top 10s on the Delta, including his fourth-place finish last year, thinks this event could outperform 2018. 

“Overall, I think the Delta is much healthier than it was last year,” Mah opines. “It’s fishing much better, too. People are going to catch a lot of fish and there have been more big ones caught throughout the summer than there was last year. A big fish on the Delta right now is 7 or 8 pounds. But I think there will be more 5- to 7-pounders weighed in this tournament than there was for this event last year.”


Gregory Troughton

Tournament tactics

Expect to see a bit of everything in this tournament. Drop-shots, weightless Senkos, crankbaits and punching will all do some heavy lifting. Gregory Troughton won the last year’s tournament and was mostly punching. The rest of the top 10 followed suit with a mix of moving baits – like crankbaits, vibrating jigs and topwaters – and punching to earn their respective finishes. Due to less spraying, the grass is healthier than in 2018, and it’d be a safe bet to see punching and winding through grass being a strong performer. 


Greg Troughton

Weight predictions

Troughton won with 60 pounds, 2 ounces last year and was carried by his day-one and day-two bags of 22-7 and 24-14, respectively. He practically ran away with the event in winning by nearly 7 pounds.

He was a bit of an anomaly, but the rest of the weights should be solid benchmarks for this derby. Mah believes 34 1/2 pounds should make the top 10, which is about a pound higher than last year.

“Last year, I thought 52 1/2 pounds would have a shot at winning, and I was grossly wrong,” Mah admits. “So, this year, I’m going to say you’ll need around 54 pounds to win unless someone is on a different planet like Greg was last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes more than 60 pounds to win this year, and hopefully it’s me.”


David Valdivia

Angler of the Year race

While someone is going to win this tournament, there is also another competition worth watching at the Delta. The race for Angler of the Year is super close, as the two pros leading the charge have been on an absolute roll this season. David Valdivia and Lane Olsen both hold 493 points, and both have scored top 10s in the first two events of the season on Lake Mead and Clear Lake. The difference may boil down to Valdivia being a seasoned veteran with solid Delta experience and Olsen being a newcomer to the Costa FLW Series. 

Just behind them in third is former FLW Tour pro Tim Klinger with 488 points. What’s maybe scarier is that Joe Uribe Jr. and Wade Curtiss sit in fourth and fifth with 486 and 482 points, respectively. Uribe and Curtiss are hammers on any body of water, but they both know the Delta well and know how to contend for wins. 

The rest of the top 10 is full of top-notch anglers, too. Sit back and enjoy the show, because this should be tight race to the finish. 


Lane Olson

AOY top 10:

1. David Valdivia – 493 points

2. Lane Olson – 493

3. Tim Klinger – 488

4. Joe Uribe Jr. – 486

5. Wade Curtiss – 482

6. Brett Leber – 472

7. Justin Kerr – 471

8. Andrew Loberg – 459

9. Rusty Salewske – 458

10. TJ Merrell – 457


Tournament details

Format: All 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 in each division determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7 a.m. PT

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

Weigh-In Time: 3 p.m. PT

Weigh-In Location: Russo’s Marina

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