The Tide Waits for No One; Co-Angler Road Dogs Cal Delta

The Tide Waits for No One; Co-Angler Road Dogs Cal Delta

I had the chance to drive up and meet my awesome friend Chris Ricci (pronounced Richey). We had a blast spending a few days fun fishing the California Delta.

Meet Me at the Delta

Descending the Grapevine, Northbound from Los Angeles to Stockton California.

Here he is, Chris Ricci and his newly acquired bass boat. Beautiful boat Chris Congrats! Chris and I go back to numerous FLW events, both of us competing as Co-Anglers. Chris’s ability to fish behind other pros is outstanding, and I’ve always admired his talent. One of the great things about Chris is his willingness to help his fellow anglers. The two of us have plenty to share and reminisce over on this trip.

Chris has a Delta Hog

Chris has a Delta Hog

Chris, with a typical catch from this trip, a solid chunky keeper.

Chris, with a typical catch from this trip, a solid chunky keeper.

We also discovered the bass to be very stingy or gone, but if you fished your A- game and worked you could produce bites, sometimes short flurries and even the ever popular double hook up.

Bass Angling Paradise

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, also known as the California Delta is a massive estuary system where two major and five minor rivers converge just before entering the San Francisco Bay. 

Amidst these rivers is a maze of canals, sloughs, tracks, bays, marinas, docks and housing developments covering 1,100 square miles.

Every imaginable boat including ocean-going ships travels through the Delta.

Every imaginable boat including ocean-going ships travels through the Delta.

The Tide Waits For No One

The flow of the Delta’s freshwater heading towards the ocean is affected by the Pacific Ocean’s tidal movements. High tide slows the push of these rivers, and the Delta water levels rise, flooding structure elements and their related cover items. Conversely, during Low Tide the rivers flow faster to the sea and the Delta water levels drop and reposition the fish. There is also a slack tide condition, it occurs between each shift from high to low and low to high tide. A slack tide as the name suggests is when the system comes to a pause between tidal directional changes.

During high tide, the water will flood through lifting the Hydrilla and Water Hyacinth mats, and into the base of tule reeds. The outer edge of the mats will often be associated to a break-line dropping into the deeper water. Bass will strategically position themselves in different locations based on what the tide is doing.  

During high tide, the water will flood through lifting the Hydrilla and Water Hyacinth mats, and into the base of tule reeds. The outer edge of the mats will often be associated to a break-line dropping into the deeper water. Bass will strategically position themselves in different locations based on what the tide is doing.  

This takes fishing ‘In the Moment’ to a higher level. You could be fishing the right spot but be there at the wrong time never knowing there is a significant amount of stout Delta largemouth all around you. 

Looking across this canal, you can see the high tide mark on the rock lined levee. The current tide level is dropping; when low tide arrives, the bass will move from this spot out to the deeper edges.    

Looking across this canal, you can see the high tide mark on the rock lined levee. The current tide level is dropping; when low tide arrives, the bass will move from this spot out to the deeper edges.    

When the Delta water moves it brings prey to the bass, that’s fundamental river fishing. It’s literally a Fast Food diet for Delta bass and when the water is not moving the bass kitchen, for the most part, is closed during a slack tide. The good news is because the Delta is so massive there will always be moving water somewhere and a different tidal condition when you relocate. Tidal masters that have done their homework have the ability to string together a Big Bass Zone Tidal Milk Run. 

Top left going clockwise; Tide Charts Near Me - smartphone app, Delta Boating on-line interactive web site, Navionics marine electronics app. 

Top left going clockwise; Tide Charts Near Me - smartphone app, Delta Boating on-line interactive web site, Navionics marine electronics app. 

There is a variety of Tide Charts, interactive web/phone apps, and sonar downloads available.

Top Performers

Presumably, a fry guard male finds the hooks at the end of a long cast.

Presumably, a fry guard male finds the hooks at the end of a long cast.

The SPRO BBZ-1 6” Swimbait came into play this trip. It fooled this Delta ‘Keeper’, showing that swimbait techniques are viable options from the back deck. This bass is just two pounds but a solid Co-Angler fish. During non-shared weight tournaments, Co’s that are culling this fish are performing very well.

Swimbaits are excellent search baits, the Lavender Shad 6” BBZ and its drawing power played a significant role this trip. While moving quickly through a condensed area of a bank during a rapidly closing window, the BBZ provoked four extra large bass to show themselves by tracking the 6” swimbait. We decided to return to this spot later in the day. Without learning that those bigger fish were there, I doubt we would have revisited. Keep reading to find out what happens.

Covering the Top, Middle, and Bottom

The Return Visit

The Rev Rig result after returning later in the day to the location where the BBZ swimbait exposed exceptional fish.

The Rev Rig result after returning later in the day to the location where the BBZ swimbait exposed exceptional fish.

I’ve talked about it before, being respectful of your boater’s efforts, especially when the big bites come your way. On this trip, I was just like a Co-Angler in a draw event. Chris had the time on the water, the homework, and placed us where and when while captaining his boat like any successful professional draw or top performing guide.  Our success was based on Chris’s endeavors.

I often have the pleasure of listening to Chris explain his experiences with the ‘Master.'  When he speaks of the Master, Chris is referring to his long-standing travel partner Mike Folkstad. Because of Chris’s zeal in telling these stories and their underlying message I would savor these opportunities.

Now Chris Ricci is on the front, and I’m standing on the back deck, in the words of the late great Huell Howser – that’s California Gold! 

My expectations of having a good time on this trip, regardless of the bite, were high. This was one of those times when expectations were exceeded. Chris and I have talked a few times about making this trip happen, I’m grateful we finally made it happen. If you’re thinking of a road trip with a fishing friend do it while you can, the tide waits for no one.  Chris my brother I love you, thanks for a great trip!

Stay tuned everyone there’s more coming the BBZ’s way from Chris Ricci!     

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