Taking into account several key variables, competitors at the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Western Division event on the California Delta had to think on their feet to land a spot in the Top 10. Triggering a reaction bite early and punching through thick vegetation, all while adjusting with the changing tidal conditions remained key throughout the week.
If you’re taking on the Delta any time soon, here are some key baits to keep in mind.
1. Andrew Loberg relied on heavy punching setups to blow through thick vegetation and past the competition. He rigged a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight for heavy wind and cover, but switched to lighter 1-ounce version and Missile Baits D Bomb when the conditions allowed.
2. Second-place finisher Michael Moreno leaned heavily on his custom Ladies Man and Bobby D’s vibrating jigs to bring the big girls to the scales. Early in the day he used darker colors such as green pumpkin and black, before switching to red later in the morning.
3. Jon Strelic started off each morning using a Z-Man/Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer with a Yamamoto Zako Trailer to trigger reaction bites. As the tide began to bottom out, he’d pitch a 6-inch Roboworm Fat Straight Tail Worm rigged on a ¼-ounce weight around key pieces of cover.
4. Bringing the biggest bag of the tournament to the scale on Day 2, Christian Ostrander caught his flurry of fish on a Berkley Choppo and a Z-Man ChatterBait Custom. He learned that a bright red ChatterBait worked well in dirty water, but switching to a more realistic color, such as candy grass, was key for triggering a reaction in clear conditions.
5. Phillip Dutra started the tournament fishing a Toxic Baits Swimbait, but caught most of his keepers flipping a Missile Baits D Bomb. Dutra covered a lot of water on the final day and using 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight was pivotal for getting his D Bomb in front of the fish.
6. William Hume took the lead on Day 1 on the back of a buzzbait. As the topwater bite began to wane, he switched to flipping a Missile Baits Missile Craw in California love. In order to trigger a reaction bite, Hume used a FatSack Tackle Fizzle vibrating jig in HR gill–paired with a Yamamoto Swim Senko in watermelon red. He’s found that dipping the tail in chartreuse helps to add a little something the fish can’t resist.
7. Gregg Leonard utilized a ChatterBait and Strike King Rage Bug to catch his biggest fish. His punching setup went the heaviest of anyone in the Top 10, using a 2-ounce tungsten weight to get through the thickest vegetation.
8. Working to cover a lot of water, Clayton Eslick rigged a Strike King Rage Bug to punch vegetation and tossed a Strike King Thunder Cricket to trigger reaction bites. Eslick also used a Toxic Baits Whipper Snapper 2.0 to help call big fish out of the cover.
9. Randy McAbee Jr. put his Stealth Stixx to work, targeting windblown banks with a D&M Baits Delta Hammerhead Buzzbait. Later in the morning, he worked new hydrilla growth in 6-8 feet of water with a ChatterBait.