FLW National Guard Western Division California Delta September 2009

FLW National Guard Western Division California Delta September 2009

Event number 3 FLW National Guard Western Division California Delta 9/23/09 - 9/26/09.

Event number 3 FLW National Guard Western Division California Delta 9/23/09 - 9/26/09 

TAKE ME TO THE RIVER 

On the road again, heading back to the California Delta.

On the road again, heading back to the California Delta.

The route So Cal to Nor Cal, GPS showing the two rivers converging on the Delta region.

The route So Cal to Nor Cal, GPS showing the two rivers converging on the Delta region.

Good thing the L.A. traffic is light.

Good thing the L.A. traffic is light.

Sun down and almost there

Sun down and almost there

The Delta

Launching, let's get some pre-fishing done and re-visit this place.

Launching, let's get some pre-fishing done and re-visit this place.

Heed the signs this is the Delta.

Heed the signs this is the Delta.

A Variety of Anglers

Kayak fly-fisherman

Kayak fly-fisherman

Pontoon angler

Pontoon angler

These guys are on the anchor striper fishing, but check out the archers deck and the bow racks.

These guys are on the anchor striper fishing, but check out the archers deck and the bow racks.

Mat punching angler

Mat punching angler

Make way coming through, these coots line up at rest for nearly a mile wide in Frank's Tract.

Make way coming through, these coots line up at rest for nearly a mile wide in Frank's Tract.

The base of this gull's perch demonstrates tidal movement.

The base of this gull's perch demonstrates tidal movement.

Flipping the tulle line

Flipping the tulle line

Pre-fishing boat docks, check out the guy on the roof, not the angle I would work from, be careful up there.

Pre-fishing boat docks, check out the guy on the roof, not the angle I would work from, be careful up there.

Who is this guy? Here that pedestal seat can be handy, check out the approaching boat wake.

Who is this guy? Here that pedestal seat can be handy, check out the approaching boat wake.

I listened to a high ranked national touring pro state that the structure in the Delta is not a factor, that all you need to do is find the right grass. I disagree, sometimes the structure here is not as obvious as some places. It still plays a factor. Every type of structure is here and it also determines where the grasses and weeds grow and how the current moves through these locations.

I listened to a high ranked national touring pro state that the structure in the Delta is not a factor, that all you need to do is find the right grass. I disagree, sometimes the structure here is not as obvious as some places. It still plays a factor. Every type of structure is here and it also determines where the grasses and weeds grow and how the current moves through these locations.

Beach party

Beach party

Traffic in Piper Slough

Traffic in Piper Slough

Ultra light dive bombing a jet skier

Ultra light dive bombing a jet skier

Angler taking a break

Angler taking a break

Peat Bogs washed up on the shore line

Peat Bogs washed up on the shore line

Another element of danger and opportunity. Peat bogs form on the bottom submerged below the water line. Over time they have the ability to dislodge from the bottom and float to the water's surface. The bogs (a misnomer)as they are referred to, can be quite large in size creating floating cover and also a navigation hazard. In California, peat is only found in the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta.

Another angler taking a break

Another angler taking a break

Typical tulle bank, notice the flat tide and no wind.

Typical tulle bank, notice the flat tide and no wind.

5 MPH zone at the south entrance to Tower Park Marina

5 MPH zone at the south entrance to Tower Park Marina

A saw tooth tulle lined shore.

A saw tooth tulle lined shore.

Floating vegetation pushed against the tulles. Submerged vegetation on a flat in front of the tulles atop a break line into the river channel. This is a bend in the river that faces directly into the tide turning current. The wind is blowing with the current, added value. I like this area!

North end Tower Park Marina

North end Tower Park Marina

Someone has an excellent priority

Someone has an excellent priority

Large ocean going ship heading up the San Joaquin River to the Port of Stockton.

Large ocean going ship heading up the San Joaquin River to the Port of Stockton.

If this is your first encounter with a large ship in the rivers do not let this one and it's lack of a wake fool you. Most wakes from ships this size can be deadly.

If this is your first encounter with a large ship in the rivers do not let this one and it's lack of a wake fool you. Most wakes from ships this size can be deadly.

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A bass boat passes with caution.

A bass boat passes with caution.

Escape pod

Escape pod

Devil Mountain

Mount Diablo as seen from the Delta in Sand Mound Slough.

Mount Diablo as seen from the Delta in Sand Mound Slough.

San Francisco and the Pacific under coastal fog to the left and Pittsburg and Antioch near the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to the right as seen from atop Mt. Diablo. Lets zoom in for a closer look.

San Francisco and the Pacific under coastal fog to the left and Pittsburg and Antioch near the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to the right as seen from atop Mt. Diablo. Lets zoom in for a closer look.

Looking through hazy skies. Sacramento River at the Carquinez Strait passing below the Carquinez and Alfred Zampa Bridges before heading to the San Francisco Bay.

Looking through hazy skies. Sacramento River at the Carquinez Strait passing below the Carquinez and Alfred Zampa Bridges before heading to the San Francisco Bay.

The San Joaquin River passing below the John A. Nejedly / Antioch Bridge just southeast of where she meets the Sacramento River. Antioch industry along the river bank.

The San Joaquin River passing below the John A. Nejedly / Antioch Bridge just southeast of where she meets the Sacramento River. Antioch industry along the river bank.

The Sacramento River flowing from the top of the picture meeting the San Joaquin River. The developed area in the middle of the picture at the base of the mountain represents Antioch right and Pittsburg left along the bank of the San Joaquin River.

The Sacramento River flowing from the top of the picture meeting the San Joaquin River. The developed area in the middle of the picture at the base of the mountain represents Antioch right and Pittsburg left along the bank of the San Joaquin River.

Scaling the sides of a cliff and entering a windblown cave for this shot atop Mount Diablo.

Scaling the sides of a cliff and entering a windblown cave for this shot atop Mount Diablo.

Back to the Bass and Pre-Fishing

Here is a nice one pushing 5lbs, drop shot. Remember the saw tooth tulle bank. Timing the tides at the delta is critical; the right place, the right time, the right technique.

Here is a nice one pushing 5lbs, drop shot. Remember the saw tooth tulle bank. Timing the tides at the delta is critical; the right place, the right time, the right technique.

In May I drew out a nice bass with the 4" BBZ-1 bluegill pattern. Threw back a wacky Senko and put that fish in the boat. This trip I drew this bass out with the wacky Senko and then threw back that same swimbait and scored, fun. Other than Troy, who can tell me where in the Delta this shot was taken?

In May I drew out a nice bass with the 4" BBZ-1 bluegill pattern. Threw back a wacky Senko and put that fish in the boat. This trip I drew this bass out with the wacky Senko and then threw back that same swimbait and scored, fun. Other than Troy, who can tell me where in the Delta this shot was taken?

3.5lbs drop shotting. Long fish with a thin belly.

3.5lbs drop shotting. Long fish with a thin belly.

Chunky fat bellied Delta bass. Bogga Grip means there are treble hooks involved.

Chunky fat bellied Delta bass. Bogga Grip means there are treble hooks involved.

Another healthy bass, guess the technique.

Another healthy bass, guess the technique.

With co-angling in mind, here are some of the baits and techniques that worked for me.

With co-angling in mind, here are some of the baits and techniques that worked for me.

Front Versus Back

Photo by FLW Outdoors/David A. Brown

Photo by FLW Outdoors/David A. Brown

J.R. is a veteran Co with 12 top ten finishes and 2 wins in his FLW resume. J.R. is the Co-Angler champ of this event so you Co's might want to pay attention. 

J.R. says that it is important not to copy what the pro is doing. Use a different worm, different size, and a different color. Show the fish something different, adapt and fish your strengths. Take advantage of opportunity when it comes. For example, if the pro is culling his fish and is at the live well that will leave an open lane towards the front of the boat. He also points out that the drop shot rig works at any lake in the west and anywhere in the country for that matter. 

J.R. lead this event from start to finish, he explained that light line is what made the difference. When you think of the Delta most have images of power fishing. J.R. explains that when behind a pro who is power fishing and perhaps moving down the bank quickly there are advantages for a co-angler with light line. Are these Delta fish line shy? No, light line will fall through the water column faster. It will also add more action to your bait. When fishing behind a fast moving pro that quick fall will put his bait in the strike zone faster allowing added seconds to a presentation and better action while in the zone. 

That was excellent information. Throughout the western FLW venues you will always find J.R. somewhere near the top of the co-angler field. He attributes the light line presentation to his victory at this event. Thanks for sharing J.R. and congratulations on your win. 

WHAT MAKES THE DELTA A PROLIFIC BASS FISHERY? 

The California Delta has been touted by some pros as being the best tidal bass fishery in the nation. One of the main reasons for this is the aquatic vegetation here. 

Hydrilla closely resembles Brazilian Waterweed. Both are here. From what I witnessed most of the pro's tournament fish were flipped from the hydrilla out in front of the tulles.

Hydrilla closely resembles Brazilian Waterweed. Both are here. From what I witnessed most of the pro's tournament fish were flipped from the hydrilla out in front of the tulles.

Water Hyacinth, mentioned often by the punchers.

Water Hyacinth, mentioned often by the punchers.

Algae often referred to as the 'cheese', highly targeted by the frog fisherman.

Algae often referred to as the 'cheese', highly targeted by the frog fisherman.

Cape Ivy

Cape Ivy

Primrose

Primrose

Interestingly all of the aquatic vegetation shown above is non-native invasive exotic plant material. My view point comes from one isolated perspective. Knowing what invasive plant material can do I can only wonder what the true value of these weeds have on this ecosystem when considered from a holistic understanding. Enough and back to my selfish personal reality and the bass. 

Pulling out some weeds and shaking them over the deck.

Pulling out some weeds and shaking them over the deck.

Viewing what falls out from the weeds, food.

Viewing what falls out from the weeds, food.

The food chain = energy flowing from one organism to the another. 

These insects, shrimp and zooplankton are the prime food source for bait fish and crayfish. It is also initially the sole prey item for almost all fish larvae. The density and distribution of zooplankton has a direct effect on a fish species stock strength. The aquatic plants are the base of this food pyramid as they support these tiny organisms. 

And these little guys, the bait fish flourish as well as crayfish. When they thrive so do the bass. 

And these little guys, the bait fish flourish as well as crayfish. When they thrive so do the bass. 

For a multitude of reasons many bodies of water do not have sufficient weeds. Anglers often say that 'blue stoning' makes the bass sick and the bite drops off. The bite certainly drops off but it is because the killing of the weeds disrupts the food chain. 

As you will see these weeds had a major role in this event. 

STUDY PERIOD IS OVER, TIME TO TAKE THE TEST

Sunrise, competition day one

Sunrise, competition day one

Bobby Barrack legendary Delta angler preparing, I bet you could learn from being around him.

Bobby Barrack legendary Delta angler preparing, I bet you could learn from being around him.

Dee Thomas, Hall of Fame member. In his 70's and still at it! Dee has children older than most of the competitors.

Dee Thomas, Hall of Fame member. In his 70's and still at it! Dee has children older than most of the competitors.

Pomp and Circumstance

Pomp and Circumstance

Lining up for take-off

Lining up for take-off

National Guard take-off and check in boat.

National Guard take-off and check in boat.

Idling out single file by the numbers to the take off point.

Idling out single file by the numbers to the take off point.

Blast off

Blast off

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Speeding to the first spot

Speeding to the first spot

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Working

Working

Racing the clock to make check in

Racing the clock to make check in

DAY FOUR; ONLY THE TOP TEN PROS REMAIN 

Observance

Observance

Filming the crowd

Filming the crowd

Day three leader Charlie Weyer discusses the event going into today with FLW's Charlie Evans.

Day three leader Charlie Weyer discusses the event going into today with FLW's Charlie Evans.

First up, wow Dee Thomas taking it to the young guns and he takes over the 'Hot Seat'. With 52 years of Delta experience this man has seen allot , sometimes the first one to see it. I would love to have a chat with this guy.

First up, wow Dee Thomas taking it to the young guns and he takes over the 'Hot Seat'. With 52 years of Delta experience this man has seen allot , sometimes the first one to see it. I would love to have a chat with this guy.

Brent Ehler, with over one million dollars in FLW tournament earnings he is no stranger to the top ten and moves into the 'Hot Seat'.

Brent Ehler, with over one million dollars in FLW tournament earnings he is no stranger to the top ten and moves into the 'Hot Seat'.

Zack Thompson, looking for a good finish, and in the hunt for Angler of the Year.

Zack Thompson, looking for a good finish, and in the hunt for Angler of the Year.

Chris Zaldain, brings in a heavy bag and moves into the lead. Very impressive when you consider Chris had a poor day one and was way off the pace. That is how you stay with it, make corrections, and finish strong.

Chris Zaldain, brings in a heavy bag and moves into the lead. Very impressive when you consider Chris had a poor day one and was way off the pace. That is how you stay with it, make corrections, and finish strong.

Chris shows Charlie and the crowd how he got it done.

Chris shows Charlie and the crowd how he got it done.

Next up Ken Mah with a very nice day four limit.

Next up Ken Mah with a very nice day four limit.

Ricky Shabazz, his first top ten finish, talking it over with Charlie, good job Ricky! 

Ricky Shabazz, his first top ten finish, talking it over with Charlie, good job Ricky! 

This former Delta Champ, Brett Hitte, with another excellent finish.

This former Delta Champ, Brett Hitte, with another excellent finish.

Robert Lee, a Delta favorite, awaits to take the stage. Robert is also in contention for 'AOY'.

Robert Lee, a Delta favorite, awaits to take the stage. Robert is also in contention for 'AOY'.

Rusty Salewske just back from the Forrest Wood Cup representing the west with a 5th place finish at the Cup. Here at the Delta he was In second place after day three. An impressive final day limit weighing 20 lb 5oz anchored by this 8lb 11oz big fish. Puts him in the lead for now, does he have enough?

Rusty Salewske just back from the Forrest Wood Cup representing the west with a 5th place finish at the Cup. Here at the Delta he was In second place after day three. An impressive final day limit weighing 20 lb 5oz anchored by this 8lb 11oz big fish. Puts him in the lead for now, does he have enough?

Charlie is back up weighing his final day bag, good fish, nice work Charlie.

Charlie is back up weighing his final day bag, good fish, nice work Charlie.

It is between Charlie and Rusty. Before they reveal the outcome the anglers review some of the details.

It is between Charlie and Rusty. Before they reveal the outcome the anglers review some of the details.

Is it the heat or Weyer that is putting Evans and Salewske to sleep? Stay awake guys the camera is rolling.

Is it the heat or Weyer that is putting Evans and Salewske to sleep? Stay awake guys the camera is rolling.

He is awake now, Rusty's big bass makes the difference and surpasses Charlie's final weight by 9ozs and earns the victory.

He is awake now, Rusty's big bass makes the difference and surpasses Charlie's final weight by 9ozs and earns the victory.

Congratulations to all of the top 10 pros. A great accomplishment fishing at a unique venue that attracts the best in the west.

Congratulations to all of the top 10 pros. A great accomplishment fishing at a unique venue that attracts the best in the west.

The champion with a nice paycheck.

The champion with a nice paycheck.

RECAPPING THE PROS 

The Final Standings 
Angler 4 Day Weight lb - oz 
1 Rusty Salewske 75 - 5 
2 Charlie Weyer 74 - 12 
3 Chris Zaldain 73 - 5 
4 Ken Mah 71 - 0 
5 Brett Hite 70 - 8 
6 Brent Ehler 68 - 0 
7 Zack Thompson 64 - 9 
8 Dee Thomas 63 - 13 
9 Robert Lee 61 - 13 
10 Ricky Shabazz 54 - 9 

Labeled a flipping contest; while on stage each top ten pro mentioned this technique. Only two other techniques were referenced and only after following flipping comments. 

The presentations and baits mentioned by the top 10. As we know here at the BBZ the technique is not defined by the lure.

The presentations and baits mentioned by the top 10. As we know here at the BBZ the technique is not defined by the lure.

Reflecting after the event.

Reflecting after the event.

COMPETITION IS OVER FUN FISH TIME

Before I head home lets have some fun.

Before I head home lets have some fun.

Troy scouting for striper boils

Troy scouting for striper boils

Here is a decent one.

Here is a decent one.

A tip; fishing from day light hours and into the twilight we take off our sunglasses during the low light. This striper was hooked on a bass top water popper with braid. During these light conditions it is hard to see exactly where the hooked fish is. The hooks can easily pull and come flying right back at you or your partner. During these light conditions wear clear protective lenses and prevent possible serious eye injury.

Frank's Tract washed in the hues of a sunset.

Frank's Tract washed in the hues of a sunset.

Another one in the books, see you guys next time.

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