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

Cal Delta Poised for Spawning Explosion

Cal Delta Poised for Spawning Explosion

Ken Mah knows the California Delta well, but the pro from Elk Grove, Calif., says he’s expecting a different look than what May usually brings when the second Costa FLW Series Western Division begins Thursday, in an event presented by Power-Pole and hosted by Russo’s Marina and Sugar Barge RV Resort and Marina. Water influx plus unstable weather, he says, have stirred the pot – literally and figuratively.

Massive water influx from heavy rains of the first quarter have mixed with seasonal Sierra Nevada snowpack melt-off to flood parts of the Delta and prompt boating closures, mostly in the southern end. On top of that, Mah says, water temperatures have lowered, and air temperatures have ridden the roller coaster of late.

The last week of April presented the first consistent stretch of weather with overnight lows in the mid- to high 60s and the daytime highs in the mid- to upper 80s. Last week saw temperatures in the 90s for several days.

“So, the large volume of snow that will continue to melt through June, coupled with the unstable weather conditions have made the water colder and more off-color than a typical May,” says Mah. “About a week before the tournament, water temperatures were 54 to 56 degrees in the morning and up to 69 degrees by the afternoon. Typically in May, it’s already stable with mornings in the mid- to high 60s.”

 

Elk Grove, Calif., pro Ken Mah is a favorite here, and he continues to find consistent success.

Implications

Keeping tabs on the local tournament scene, Mah has seen lower-than-normal weights and a distinct scarcity of big fish. That’s not to say that tournament week won’t see floodgates fly open, but he’s suggesting an open-minded approach with balanced measures of ambition and reality.

“I think the fish will eat the things we typically throw in May, and I’m hoping that the stable weather we just had will push them off the edge,” Mah says. “I think you’ll be able to catch fish on the Delta a multitude of ways, but people are going to have to adjust what they think is a good weight. That’s the mental adjustments.”

Mah thinks 17 to 18 pounds a day will make Saturday’s top-10 cut. He’s predicting a winning weight in upper 50s or low 60s for three days, but more would not surprise him in this Western monster lab.

“This is the Delta, so it could take 75,” he says. “To win over three days, you’re going to need to catch 20 a day.”

Addressing the remaining southern Delta closures, Mah says, “The good thing about the Delta is that you can win anywhere, so unless you’re from that area and that’s where you like to fish, you have a lot of other areas.”

 

Jeff Michels

Seasonal delay

Mah also believes this year’s meteorological volatility has become a roadblock for spring patterns.

“With the cold water and all the unstable weather, we still have yet to see a really big wave of spawning fish,” he says. “From a fishing perspective, I think the Delta is at least a month behind.”

Mah fully expects to find fish in all three phases of the spawn, but he notes an atypical breakdown. A typical May sees 40 percent of the fish in postspawn, 20 percent spawning and then 40 percent prespawn.

“I think this year, there will probably be 20 percent postspawn, 20 percent spawning and then the bulk will be coming,” Mah says.

Now, with what Mah calls unseasonably warm weather last week, the big females could be advancing their plans.

“I’m confident that there will be a large wave of fish going during the tournament,” Mah says.

Mah says those prespawn fish will eat a mix of vibrating jigs, square-bills, spinnerbaits, frogs and topwater plugs. Slipping drop-shots next to tules is another Delta favorite, and swimbaits will always have a place in Western fishing. For bedding bass, jigs, Texas-rigged craws or creature baits, and even drop-shots will earn the bites.

 

Ken Mah gets a little help from co-angler Rafael Ortiz.

Ups and downs

The good thing about the Delta’s tidal nature is that the daily rise and fall will push and pull water through abundant shallow vegetation, which filters turbidity from the recent influx and windy conditions. That means cleaner water is available for those who seek it.

The drawback of daily ebb and flow is the complicating movement of fish and forage, which tends to create brief windows of opportunity and forces the question, “Do I stay, or do I go?”

Specifically, that means deciding between a localized effort or “running the tide” – moving up or down the tidal plain to stay with a specific stage of water movement.

“It depends on what you find, but for me, because I know the water, I tend to want to run the tides,” Mah says. “But for people who aren’t from the area, if they find good fish somewhere, it might be more conducive for them to camp out on those fish and find different ways to catch those fish.”

 

Water closure information

Click here for a map of closed Delta waters. 

 

Tournament details

Dates: May 11-13, 2017

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each category determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6 a.m. PT

Takeoff Location: Russo’s Marina, 3995 Willow Road, Bethel Island, Calif.

Weigh-In Time: 2 p.m. PT

Weigh-In Location: Russo’s Marina

Complete details

Tags: david-a-brown  pre-tournament  2017-05-11-california-delta 

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

The season finale of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit will take place on Lake Erie, out of Sandusky, Ohio, on August 11-14. The third of three special Super Tournaments, over 200 pros from FLW and Major League Fishing (MLF) will fish in the event. The winner will take home $125,000 and the event will decide who wins the Angler of the Year title, the Polaris Rookie of the Year title and which Pro Circuit anglers qualify for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay. READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 2

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 2

Fishing creek ends continued to be the theme on day two of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake. Although the current was not running as much in the creeks as yesterday, the cooler shadier waters in the back of creeks were still producing for top anglers once again.  READ MORE »

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

In his fourth year on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Grae Buck has really come into his own. A standout collegiate angler at Penn State, he’s now in the thick of the Angler of the Year race and cruising toward qualification for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota. READ MORE »

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

For Jake Ormond, this is his first time fishing north of Tennessee, and thus his first time fishing the upper Mississippi. He’s not the only one lacking Mississippi River experience in the field, but considering many of the Major League Fishing (MLF) anglers that are part of the Super Tournament field have competed on the river a number of times, he’s got his work cut out for him. READ MORE »

Summertime Shootout on Tap at Wheeler

Summertime Shootout on Tap at Wheeler

Summertime on the Tennessee River may not be the prime time to hit the water, but the second stop of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division on Wheeler Lake will certainly showcase how diverse of a fishery it can be when the tournament takes place July 30 - Aug. 1. READ MORE »

Looking Ahead to the Mississippi River 

Looking Ahead to the Mississippi River 

With just two events left in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season, it’s time to turn attention to the northern part of the country. Presented by OPTIMA Batteries, the Pro Circuit Super Tournament on the Mississippi River out of Stoddard, Wis., will not only crown a winner with a $125,000 payday but also shape the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

After a four-month hiatus, it’s almost time for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division to get back after it. The season resumes on July 18 and July 19 with back-to-back tournaments on Pickwick Lake. While each tournament may fish a bit like a two-day event, each day of competition is a standalone tournament with a winner crowned after each day. READ MORE »

Michigan Division Kicks Off on St. Clair

Michigan Division Kicks Off on St. Clair

There’s nothing better than clear water and big smallmouths, and that’s exactly what the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Michigan Division plans to deliver this year. The division, which is presented by ARE, is set to open the season July 18 on Lake St. Clair in what should be a heavyweight showdown of smallmouths. READ MORE »

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division continues its season with back-to-back tournaments on Kerr Lake on July 18 and 19. READ MORE »

Hoosier Division Heads for Ohio River

Hoosier Division Heads for Ohio River

After kicking off the season on Lake Monroe with a double-header at the end of June, the Hoosier Division of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine turns east for stop No. 3 on the Ohio River at Tanners Creek. READ MORE »

Everything in Play on Mighty Miss

Everything in Play on Mighty Miss

The Mississippi River is the staple venue of the Great Lakes Division in Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine competition. Come July 18, the division will take its first crack at the Mighty Miss in what could shape up to be a diverse event. READ MORE »

Kentucky Lake Could be Won Deep or Shallow

Kentucky Lake Could be Won Deep or Shallow

As we saw a couple weeks ago at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, the Tennessee River is capable of churning out big bags of bass both deep and shallow. We’ll probably be reminded of the Chickamauga event on July 18, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine LBL Division competes on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Conditions should be similar, with both deep and shallow patterns in the mix.   READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

Due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, FLW will shift its July 9-11 Toyota Series Northern Division opener from the St. Lawrence River at Massena, N.Y., to Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

Okie Division Heads to Arkansas River

Okie Division Heads to Arkansas River

The Okie Division looks to end the month of June just how it started it – with back-to-back Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine events. READ MORE »

Checking Shallow and Deep with Hays

Checking Shallow and Deep with Hays

Dylan Hays has been fairly consistent throughout his four years as a pro on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, and he’s currently on pace to have his best season to date. He made the last two top-30 cuts and finished 31st at Rayburn to start the year, and because of his consistency, the Arkansas pro currently finds himself fifth in the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

FLW has a long history of hosting multiple-day summertime tournaments on Lake Ouachita, where pros have to grind it out for three days in what are usually tough conditions. On June 27, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Arkie Division takes to Ouachita, the Natural State’s best bass anglers will need to game plan a little differently. With only one day to fish and a three-bass limit, they’ll have to swing for the fences with big-bass patterns to have a shot at winning. READ MORE »

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Hoosier Division starts its season with back-to-back tournaments on Indiana’s Lake Monroe June 27 and 28, and it’s looking like big bags will be on tap. READ MORE »

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Competition in the Shenandoah Division presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine will restart at the Potomac River on June 27. With the river’s bass fully into the postspawn now, the event should be a classic summertime Potomac derby. READ MORE »

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

If you wanted to design the perfect frog-fishing tournament, you might host it at Guntersville or the Cal Delta, but you could also copy the agenda for the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis. READ MORE »