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.”
WHERE TO LOOK
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,
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
“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