UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Slim pickings

Slim pickings
Stren competitors head out for day two of fishing on what has become a stingy California Delta.

OAKLEY, Calif. - It's another sunny day on the California Delta, but prospects could be brighter for competitors in the Stren Series Western Division event.

Normally, a late spring delta tournament would see much larger bags with a handful of huge catches setting wide margins. Not so this week. During the day one weigh-ins, long faces and frustrated head shaking were far more common than bulging bags and gleeful grins. Only two anglers broke the 20-pound mark and 17-14 was tenth place on the pro side.

Anglers reported plenty of smaller fish, but with the quarter moon hanging this weekend and cooler, windier weather laying over the delta, conditions are not right for the shallow water shooting match in which anglers bounce from one massive bed fish to another. The scene is certainly not devoid of such action, but it's nothing like the slugfest that occurs when warmer weather coincides with stronger moon phases.

Put it this way, when no one weighs a double digit fish during a spring event on the delta, the game justA cool, sunny morning greeted anglers as they made their way through the boat check line. isn't happening. Eight-pounders topped the pro and co-angler divisions, as competitors found consistent inconsistency throughout much of their day. That left many anglers in scramble mode.

"I was just junk fishing (yesterday)," said Plumas Lake, Calif. pro Jim Davis, who sits in 21st place with 14-14. "I tried a bunch of different things. I'd try one thing in one little pocket and then something else would work in another spot."

Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif. leads the pro field with 21 pounds. He's flipping a Sweet Beaver and casting his new signature series Snag Proof Phat Frog across mats. Monroe said the Phat Frog's streamlined design and heavy body makes it easier to cast in windy conditions. He got his bigger day one fish on the frog, but flipping produced higher numbers.

"I'll do both throughout the day," Monroe said. "I switch it around a lot and go back and forth. I go down the bank and the stuff I can't flip I throw the frog over and the stuff I can't throw a frog over I flip."

Leading the pro division, Ish Monroe will alternate between filpping with Sweet Beavers and throwing his new signature series Snag Proof Phat Frog.Water movement factors heavily in the delta's tidal environment. Monroe said he's optimistic about another strong performance, as his later flight gives him more time to fish in his preferred conditions.

"Today's tides are really great because we have a little bit of the incoming this morning and then a high outgoing all day," he said. "Hopefully, I'll catch a big one on a frog early and then from there I'll go flipping once the water gets high and floods into the (shoreline vegetation). The high outgoing tide has always been good for me because the fish get comfortable on the high tide and then on the outgoing, they feed up before they move."

Air temperature will continue to dip today and tomorrow and that will hold bass tighter to cover. As Monroe explained, the fish will back farther under the mats to leverage even the smallest degree of warmth advantage found near rip rap shorelines. This bodes well for flipping, as the likelihood of finding a wad of fish hugging a sweet spot increases.

The delta will see plenty of Texas-rigged plastics dropping into pepperwort patches and punching Ninth place pro John Billheimer Jr. will rely on a Senko to grab his early limit and then look for big fish on the frog.through dense mats of hydrilla and other aquatic tangles. Most anglers had at least one frog tied on this morning, but Senkos will also factor into many game plans. Ninth-place pro John Billheimer Jr. of Discovery Bay, Calif. will start with his wacky-rigged Senko to get a limit and then go big-fish hunting with a frog.

Ramon Fonseca has plans for flipping, frogging and cranking. He'll occasionally break out his big swimbait for those swing-for-the-fences moments. Senkos may also come into play, in two different presentations.

"In the morning, I'll Texas rig the Senko because the fish want that elongated presentation, but during the middle of the day, they want that wacky-rigged look because they can grab it faster," he said.

Planning a diverse approach, California pro Ramon Fonseca will look for the big bite with his swimbait.Today's weigh-ins will likely see a few more big sacks, as anglers decipher the delta. Monroe appears to be on a solid pattern, but someone will probably make a serious run at the top spot. Second place pro Rob Wenning of Sparks, Nev. sits just a pound and one ounce off the lead and his best fish - an 8-5 that took Big Bass honors - was a little heavier than Monroe's biggest.

On the co-angler side, Greig Sniffen of Saratoga, Calif. holds a 5-pound, 15-ounce lead with 21-4, the heaviest stringer in both divisions on day one. With the way the delta is fishing, Sniffen may be poised for a runaway victory.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Russo's Marina located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island, Calif., at 6:30 Paired with 31st place pro R.J. Bennett, left, co-angler leader Greig Sniffen holds nearly a 6-pound lead in his division.each morning. Friday's weigh-ins will be held at the marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Walmart store located at 4893 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, Calif., beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

The California Delta Stren Series tournament is hosted by the City of Oakley.

Pros will fish for a top award of $25,000 plus a 198VX Ranger powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard and equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. If the winner is not a Ranger Cup participant, Ranger will award $7,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant in the contingency program.

Co-anglers will cast for a top award of a 177TR Ranger powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard and trailer. If the co-angler meets the Ranger Cup guidelines, they will earn an additional $5,000. If the winner is not a Ranger Cup participant, Ranger will award $2,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant in the contingency program.

Friday's conditions:

Sunrise: 5:47 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 55 degrees
Expected high temperature: 82 degrees
Water temperature: 68-72 degrees
Wind: from the WSW at 10-15 mph
Humidity: 40 percent
Day's outlook: mostly sunny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2009-05-28-california-delta 

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