By David A. Brown
It was a tale of two Deltas; at least, in terms of how anglers fared midway through the first of three completion days. Some of those fishing the DiscountTackle.com Western Bass Shootout reported solid to strong starts, while others seemed to struggle.
This was not unexpected. Prior to the event, many discussed the Delta’s delayed spring — the product of an extremely cold winter and voluminous rainfall. On the upside, this massive fishery is loaded with big Florida-strain largemouth bass that really want to get their spawning cycle in the books.
The general thought was that the week’s warming trend could start the process moving in the right direction. From what we saw on the water, it looks like the prespawn bite is starting to shape up, but it’s a little here, a little there. Suffice it to say, the cork has yet to pop.
We saw several nice fish, in person and through the TourneyX tracking system, which includes an image upload option. Gregory Troughton kicked off his day with a 9-pounder that bit around 8 a.m.
In Frank’s Tract, we found Nick Cloutier flipping tule edges and punching tule mats. He told us that he lost an estimated 7-pounder at 7:30 when the fish came unbuttoned while he attempted a boat flip.
Such losses sting, but it’s good to see a few are starting to get frisky. Tournament success will likely come down to consistency and execution, so maximizing each opportunity will be crucial.
A Mixed Bag
The prespawn stage puts the entire tackle box into play. True to seasonal form, it appeared that today’s action came from a combination of moving baits like bladed jigs and spinnerbaits, along with flipping/pitching techniques and a little finesse — wacky/Neko-rigged worms and dropshots.
Factors at Play
Warming water temperatures should continue to stimulate fish. With nearly flat conditions, the water shouldn’t loose anything to cooling winds.
Water movement is always key on the Delta and multiple anglers reported looking for their best opportunities when the water got right. Cloutier said he started in Frank’s Tract because he knew big ones lived there, but he was planning his day based on the morning’s incoming tide. His strategy involved running progressively farther south to chase the rising tide stage as long as he could.
Elsewhere, William Ponting held only a small limit by late morning. He said he needed more tide movement along the riprap levees he was fishing. Periods of peak tidal movement will deliver the opportunities.
It Can Happen Quick
Around 8:40, we rolled up on Scott Mackenzie, who told us he had four keepers for about 13 pounds, including a 6-pounder. Five minutes later, we watched him finish his limit with a 5-pounder.
Notably, Mackenzie said he had nothing before 8:15, but then he got on a key 100-yard stretch and caught his first four in a 20-minute window. Mackenzie did all of his work by dropshotting a 6-inch roboworm in the ever-popular Margarita Mutilator color.