delta anglers joe uribe and ken mah fish catch pre spawners

ken mah and joe uribe fish the


sk Ken Mah where he thinks you’d have the

best shot at a double-digit bass, and he’ll

point you to the California Delta. Sure, the tenured tournament pro from Elk Grove knows there are

other western toad factories, but year after year, it’s hard

to argue with the Delta’s big-bass potential.

That being said, Mah’s quick to point out that

a personal best isn’t just waiting for you in every

tule pocket. No, for your most consistent shot at

true Cal Delta beasts, the pre-spawn is your time to

shine. When warming temperatures, lengthening

photo periods and ripening eggs push the big mamas

shoreward, it’s game-on.

“It’s not a precise date, but I’ve always looked at it as

the end of February and the first part of March,” Mah said.

“I think the biggest ones tend to move up early. I’ve caught

about 25 double-digit fish on the Delta and I’d say around

80 percent of them have been in February or March.”


On a traditional reservoir lake with pre-spawn bass transitioning from their deep- water wintering grounds to the mouths of spawning creeks, the Delta’s mostly shallow fishery sees a different kind of staging; one that’s complicated by daily tidal fluctuation. Nevertheless,

pre-spawn bass

want the same things no matter where they live — feeding opportunities and quick access to deeper water. Mah’s favorite scenario for Delta pre-spawners — riprap bank.

“I look for the steeper riprap banks and the old banks are even better,” he said. “It can be hard to find because every 20 yards of riprap can change. To a person standing on the bank or a person driving by in a boat, it can look like miles and miles of rock, but it’s not.

“That riprap bank is human made, so that means there can be human error. When a person is dredging that levee in a backhoe, it can be like a person driving a car and looking at a cell phone. They might dig a little deeper or a little shallower.”

Mah also notes that the rock poured for levee reinforcement presents another opportunity for subsurface contour variances. In any case, learning to identify the deeper spots is essential to success. Mapping

might lead you to a general area,

but Mah’s found his best results

Ken Mah by selecting promising riprap

sections and then fishing with

astute observations.

“Because the Delta is so

shallow, it’s not like you can go

down the bank with your SideScan

on and be able to tell right away

where the best spots are; you

have to fish it,” he said. “I can

fish down a 500-yard

stretch of riprap

fairly quickly,