By Mark Fong
On a very warm Thursday evening to an enthusiastic group of anglers, Delta Guide and Yamamoto Pro Staffer Andy “Cooch” Cuccia made the trek to the Fisherman's Warehouse in Sacramento, California for the annual Yamamoto Big Bass Challenge pre-tourney seminar. As usual Cuccia did not disappoint, revealing candid and in depth insight like only he can into one of the nation's best bass fisheries.
The 6th annual edition of Yamamoto Big Bass Challenge makes its return to the California Delta on June 11th and 12th for a weekend filled with fun, prizes and of course big bass. Over the course of the six official one hour daily weigh in periods, anglers will compete for 5 big fish prizes each hour. The competitor with the largest bass weighed in during each of the hourly periods will win $500*. The twelve lucky anglers weighing in the biggest bass during each period of the event will be eligible to participate in the “Super 12”grand prize drawing for a chance to win $10,000*. In addition, $3,000* will be awarded for the overall big fish of the event. Competitors may use only Yamamoto or Kinami baits.
Follow the Levees
Cuccia made no secret where to target the Delta's big fish. “Right now the rocks are the place to be, those are the last fish on that river system that come up to spawn in late May and June,” he explained. They come out of the deep water where they get into the big levees with the “S” bends and points. They come up on those points where you get current breaks and you've got a point and a bowl that rolls around to another big point. The current goes out in front of it and they have got areas they can roll up and move off the deep edges and drops. If you get on the rocks and just bounce fifty yards either side of a point, you are gonna catch fish right now. If you get out to where that grass is, especially on the high tide those fish are tucked right on the inside of that grass. Where that trough comes off those rocks and meets that grass, that's where those bigger fish are. When that tide falls, those fish don't move, they just reposition on the outside of the grass.” With mile after mile of rip rap bank, there is certainly no shortage of areas to fish.
Crawfish and Jigs
According to Cuccia, crawfish are the primary year around forage for the Delta bass. There is no better crawfish imitator than a jig and craw. Cuccia likes to use a ½ oz. Wadda Jig made by TNT Baits. He tipped the Booby 2 and Booby Trap as good color choices for this time of the season matched with a 3.75” Flappin' Hog (FH) in #297 (Green Pumpkin w/ lg black), #301 (Green Pumpkin w/ lg green & purple) or #330 (Green Pumpkin w/ purple & sm copper).
Cuccia likes to fish the jig and craw as a reaction bait, with short little movements: hopping, popping, shaking, in order to find the correct pace and cadence that will trigger the fish to bite. An important thing to keep in mind is to keep the jig on or near the bottom.
“When fishing jigs you've got to have the right equipment - you gotta have a heavy action rod, with a fast or extra fast tip because you want the rod to load and grab right away,” advised Cuccia. Big rods require heavy line, so 25lb fluorocarbon is a must.
Kreatures in the Grass
“One of the tactics that I just started on when I figured out there were a lot more post spawners as well as prespawners out in the grass is throwing the Yamamoto Kreature,” tipped Cuccia. “I use a stopper with a 1/4oz tungsten weight with a little red bead and just fish it through the grass beds.”
No seminar would be complete without discussing the Senko. “When I am fishing a Senko, 100% of the time I am fishing it on a Gamakatsu offset round bend, a big 4/0 or 5/0,” said Cuccia. “On the Delta I use nothing but a 6” (9L) or 7” (9X). I also use that 7.75” (7GL) Kut Tail, it falls differently and gives them a completely different look in the water. The offset round bend is the most efficient hook you can put in a Senko.”
When the wind blows as it is known to do on the Delta, Cuccia opts for the 7” Senko over the 6”. “It's gonna sink, it has gotta lot of weigh to it, but if you are using a 6” or a 5” (9) and the wind grabs your line, your bait is never gonna hit the bottom. But once I get into that spawning zone, those fish are not feeding and that big bait doesn't become a factor it actually becomes intimidating. When they're up on beds, the 6” Senko is king, they will pick it up and move it and they will attack it.
“If you go with the Green Pumpkins, #208 (Watermelon w lg black sm red) or #925 (Green Pumpkin w/sm Red /042/J Laminate) or if you fish in the winter #021 (Black w lg blue), if you stick with those three basic colors you can catch fish on the Delta year around,” said Cuccia.
For more information on the 6th Annual Yamamoto Big Bass Challenge and complete contest rules please visit www.anglerspress.com.
* Payout based on number of paid entries. Please visit www.anglerspress.com website for full event rules and details regarding payout.