by Andy ‘Cooch’ Cuccia
What they tend to over look, with all these variables present here, a bass is still a bass. Largemouth bass have very specific tenden- cies that govern their annual life cycle. When we fish the lakes, it all makes sense and we can follow those seasonal patterns and stay on the fish, or find them with regularity. Here, anglers get too caught up in what they have heard and read, and forget this all-important fact about the fish. The bass has a very specific life cycle; the only difference here is it lives in a totally different neighborhood. Yet their tendencies will be the same here as they are on any lake. If anglers would apply, what they know and use on our lakes, they will find fishing here on the Delta is a lot easier than they realized. This past spring and summer has presented anglers with many challenges in staying on the fish. After two consecutive, long cold winters, which killed off much of the grass here, the warm winter of 09, has allowed much of that grass to rebound, to where it is now thicker in many areas than it has been in four years. It’s kind of funny as I surf the internet, and listen to all the dock talk when tournaments come to town, I hear how the Delta has gotten tougher due to all the weed spraying that takes place here. What’s funny about this to me is, this is typically coming from anglers who don’t live here, who really have no idea what is going on in regards to spraying and its relationship to the grasses here. Yes, they have sprayed in Frank’s tract over the years, most recently dumping pellets in areas to control the weeds for boat- ing traffic in, out and around the lake. This has been happening since they built the storm wall on Piper Slough at the southwest end of Bethel Island many years ago. But what limited control that goes on in Franks, is not what killed the grass out in Sherman, Big Break, up in Sycamore, down in Whiskey, Italian and areas around Whites and Disappointment. Anglers got caught up in the phe- nomena of the fish factory of Frank’s. They got spoiled and never ventured anywhere else, hence as far as they know, all the grass has been killed off, when that is far from what really happened. Yet this is what anglers read and believe.
We also see a lot of spraying to control the water Hyacinth, which is an invasive species to this river system. They no longer use a chemical pesticide to kill this plant, but in fact a growth like hormone that fertilizes and speeds up the growth cycle, bringing it to a fast end of life. They’ve done a great job the past two years of doing this, yet I still hear and read about a lot of Hyacinth in the system. What these folks don’t understand is this surface plant all over the river right now, it is not Hyacinth, but in fact a common native species called Periwinkle. I mention these two vegetation aspects at the top of this ar- ticle for one reason, outside of Clear Lake the Delta is one of the two fisheries here that is inundated with various grasses and veg- etation. And any astute bass angler, that has paid attention over the years to the various TV programs, magazines and tournament results that come in from the east, south and central part of this country, grass is a huge part of a bass’ preferred habitat choice. Spending time fishing the various grass types here is a key ele- ment in locating bass on this river, just like anywhere else in the country. Remember, a bass is just a bass. Another overlook area in patterning fish here is the lack of time anglers spend fishing points. If you think about it, typically what is the first thing most of us do when we venture out to our favorite lake, during the summer, fall and winter? We go find a point and start fishing. DUH! Anglers don’t do that enough here and they should, you’re missing out on a lot of fish. We’re just too comfortable with the currents and wind, to put our trolling motors down and cruise miles down a rock levee bank covering water. Or we fish long meandering walls of tulles. We spend countless hours doing this, not getting bit. Yet in our travels down these sections, when we catch a fish or two on a subtle point, we just keep going. If we were to stop and thoroughly work that area, you would find that other fish are probably there using that subtle point too. The Delta offers so many options when thinking about points. We have the very obvious points on the many levee rock walls throughout the 1000’s of miles of waterways here. There are also