On April 1st, 2010, I had the opportunity to fly cross-country and fish one of the greatest bass fisheries in the United States: the California Delta. The California Delta is located between Sacramento and Stockton and has over 1,000 miles worth of waterways. Needless to say, it’s very easy to get lost on this massive body of water. I had the privilege of fishing with the owners of Black Dog Bait Company, a company that started out of a garage and is now one of the most popular west coast lure companies today. Black Dog Bait Co. is largely known for the creation of the Lunker Punker, which is a unique walk-the-dog style bait that has action like no other top water bait on the market. Since 2002, they have added many more baits to their product line that attracts both the West Coast and East Coast bass fishermen alike.
Owners, Grant Olguin and Jeremy Anderson grew up fishing the California Delta They currently live nearly a stone’s through away from the launch ramp. We tried to plan my trip around the weather because if the weather cooperated, we would be fishing the Delta on a knock out pre-spawn pattern. The week before I arrived in California daily highs were hitting mid to upper 70’s. I was feeling great! I said to myself, “if this weather stays like this it’s going to be ON FIRE!” I arrived late Thursday night. On Friday, when Jeremy Anderson too me out, the sun seemed to have stayed asleep. A cold front came through and the weekend weather stayed around45 degrees and rainy.
Any avid fisherman knows that Florida stained bass HATE cold fronts so I thought we were doomed. AA The bass were preparing for the pre-spawn transition the week before I arrived, however when I arrived Thursday night with the cold, rainy weather the bass were halted in their tracks. Luckily, Jeremy and Grant were determined to put me on fish all weekend no matter what. I fished over 10 hours each day, and even though the weather didn’t cooperate I had a great time fishing and learned so many new things!
I would love to give you all a play-by-play of what happened each day that I fished the Delta, but that would be too long of an article, and I don’t want to lose your interest before I start talking about some important things. I want to talk to you about what I learned while fishing the California Delta with the owners of Black Dog Bait Co. So, here’s a small list of important things I learned in no particular order.
#1. Pound for pound, Delta bass are the hardest hitting and hardest fighting bass you can find!
I know this is a bold statement and I’m sure some of you may disagree with me, but I have never experienced a harder hitting and fighting bass! 90% of my fish were caught on a chartreuse shad Revenge spinnerbait with 15lb Hi-Seas Fluorocarbon. When I got a hit on my spinnerbait, it was like a freight train hitting the end of my line! 2 lb bass felt like 4 -5 lb bass. I hooked nto what I thought was at least a 6 lb bass from the way it hit and fought, but once I landed the fish it turned out to be a just a healthy 3 pound Delta bass. I never caught a fish over 4lbs during this cold front weekend, but I would have loved to catch a 10 pounder and hung on for dear life!
#2. The owners of Black Dog Bait Co. integrate their baits with other baits and techniques when they fish!
A lot of people think because the guys from Black Dog Bait Co. have a wide product line, that they only fish their products. That is a false statement! Grant Olguin and Jeremy Anderson love fishing tournaments like the rest of us, so they use jig rods, spinnerbait rods, cranking rods, and flipping rods. The key to bass fishing is adaptability, and as anglers, we always have to change our strategy as the weather changes. I will say that Grant and Jeremy have a lot of confidence in their products. Jeremy’s favorite Black Dog product is the Lunker Punker. Every spot that we pulled up on, the first thing Jeremy would throw was the Lunker Punker. Grant’s favorite Black Dog product is the Shell Cracker. I’ve owned a Shell Cracker for years and have caught some good fish with it but it was a treat getting a personal lesson from Grant himself on how to fish the Shell Cracker the correct way. I would share that information with you, but I think I may keep it a secret! It was great seeing the creators of Black Dog Bait Co. fishing their products with so much confidence. It goes to show you that they stand behind their products and they know how effective their products can be.
#3. What happens on your boat at the Delta, stays on your boat at the Delta!
Its funny, every local angler that fishes the Delta is extremely secretive about where they fish and what the fish are biting. There were times when I had a fish on and a boat came idling by, I would drop my rod, and give it slack line so the other anglers wouldn’t know that we were on fish. Since I’m from the East Coast and only visited for the long weekend, Grant and Jeremy took me to their secret tournament winning spots. I quickly learned that every day is like a tournament to the locals. If you catch a fish in front of someone make sure you bring the fish in quietly and if someone asks what you were using, 99% of the time you tell them the wrong bait. The reason? The Delta is the home to many good bass anglers. Dee Thomas, the father of the flipping technique, has been fishing the Delta for the past 60 years. Dee, now in his mid 70’s, fishes over 100 tournaments a year and places in almost every one of them. Dee Thomas is a legend. If you find the working pattern, keep it quiet because if someone like Dee Thomas hears about it, he will have no mercy!
This is just a small list of things that I learned from fishing with Black Dog at the Delta. The California Delta is an amazing body of water. If you ever get a chance to make it out to the San Francisco area, make it a point to find a guide and fish the Delta. I assure you, you will not be disappointed. The fishing conditions were tougher than we anticipated, but I was able to experience the hard fighting Delta bass and it was an experience like no other! Jeremy Anderson and Grant Olguin of Black Dog Bait Co. were great hosts and I plan to head back out this summer to experience the amazing evening topwater bite of the California Delta.