LATE WINTER TRANSITION
JIG N’ P I G
BY ANDY CUCCIA
F on the California Delta
rom late fall to winter, bass settle into
specific patterns when the temperatures
are falling and it’s a slow grind that re-
quires the ultimate level of confidence in your bait to fish it all day long for it to be pro-
ductive. As is always the case, things change in
a bass’ world as we progress from winter into
that late winter to spring transition. Most years,
two environmental changes occur that trigger a
bass’ metabolism that forces them to go on the
move, the rains and afternoon, warming sun as
the days begin to get longer.
The rain’s run-off create two conditions that afford anglers a better chance at catching them on a regular basis. The run-off stains the water. Here on the Cali- fornia Delta, this creates an ideal situation that afford the Florida hybrid bass, to start to feel a lot more com- fortable in moving shallower. The glaring sun begins to radiate more and for longer periods, warming many areas enticing these fish here to come even faster. Stained water warms and hold the heat better than clear water; hence it is now time to start looking for dirtier water conditions to locate more active fish.
Many more bass will now begin moving into that 4- to 8-foot zone where the water is warming and the light penetration is lowered from the changing conditions. These fish will begin to lock into that first weed line and become more aggressive in their feeding habits. They will also be more opportunistic and grab your jigs when they are not in that all out positive feeding mode. The dirtier the water gets, you’ll begin to find some of the largest bass on this river actually will move into 1- to 3-feet to feed and rest up against the warming rocks as they lie in wait for an easy meal.
Most bass on this river system, will hunker down in the deep weeds ranging in depths from 8- to 16-feet all winter long. Typically, only a few will move shallower than this on specific days and during conditions that allow them to feel comfortable ta do so. They are very difficult to catch during this period unless you slow way down and go into winter fishing mode. This requires that we back way off the bank,
Keep an eye out for two river critters during this period, for they are a tall tale sign, that you will find the bass shallow now. Croaking frogs in the rocks and sunning turtles are now primary and easy targets for a big Delta bass. That jig-n-pig plopping down in the shallows, in dirty water, then rapidly moving down through the bottom, is the perfect imitator of this for- age at this time of year.
making long casts and working that jig slowly and methodically through their deeper haunts. We cast to that shallow zone, work the jig erratically looking for that lone aggressive shallow fish, then slow it down as we reach the 8- to 16-foot zone where most bass reside. When the two conditions above occur, it’s time to change and reverse the process.
Bass in the shallows at this time are relying on other senses versus their sight. We as anglers need to take advantage of that. It’s the one time of year that I religiously use my BANG Shrimp scent. It definitely will trigger the smelling mechanism. I also will use a rattle on my jig. I want them to hear it coming, I want them to hear it moving around on the bottom when they can’t