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Gone fishing
Hook, line & sinker

“Coach” Dudley Kinlaw shows off the trout he caught at New Melones Lake in spring 2018.
One of my favorite fishing shows while growing up was Hank Parker’s “Outdoor Magazine.” The theme song for the show talks about all the things that Hank must do around the house but he’s “gone fishing.” I was reminded of that song the other day as I looked at the lawn in my front yard as I was driving off with my boat in tow. I take pride in doing my own yardwork but if there were ever a time when I would hire someone to do it for me, it would be from now until the end of May. 

The Lakes:
Weston Ranch resident Bill Thomas with a bass that he caught while fishing Lake New Melones in spring 2018.

I probably fish the Delta more than any other body of water during this time of the year. This is the time when bass fishing is at its best. A person can pretty much catch them any way they’d like to. I prefer to throw reaction baits. There are usually three to five baits that I have tied on this time of year. A square bill crankbait in a craw color would be number one. Years ago, Lucky Craft made a squarebill named the BDS 3. I still have a few of them left that I nickname “my vacuum cleaners.” I’ve heard good things about the new square bills that are being sold today as well. Number 2 would be a Senko, five or six inches in green pumpkin. I prefer to fish my Senkos on the Delta wacky rigged. Pitching a Senko into visible clearings in the grass is how my best friend caught a 13-pound bass on the Delta. Number 3 would be some type of topwater lure. Many prefer to fish with hollow body frogs, I prefer a Whopper Plopper over a frog. A lot of anglers miss out on some great topwater action by avoiding walking baits. My partner caught most of the fish last year in April on a walking bait while I couldn’t get them to bite on any other topwater bait. Number 4 would be any type of creature bait — something that you can flip or pitch into the holes in the grass or edges of the tulles. As far as the weight, I try and match the weight to what I’m fishing. I try to get down or through the grass with as small a weight as I can get away with. I also prefer Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, Big Texan being my favorite color. Number 5 must be a drop shot. I fish a drop shot with a 6-inch fat strait tail worm by Roboworm with the hook positioned anywhere from 6-8 inches above the weight. As for color, Margarita Mutilator ll is the only color that you need in your tackle box. I fish it on no less than 17-pound test fluorocarbon line and pitch it into the visible light spots in the grass or around sparse tulle patches. Of course, there are a lot of baits that didn’t make my top 5 that I have tied on as well. If I had to pick one though, it would have to be the Senko. 

The Delta:
Clint Colwell of Stockton kisses a bass he caught in early summer 2018 while fishing in Smith Canal on the Delta.

Bass fishing in lakes is all about bed fishing this time of year. The majority of our lakes have most likely cleared up making bed fishing a go-to technique for many anglers. The biggest bass that I ever caught —weighing 11.3 pounds — was caught out of New Hogan Lake while bed fishing in a club tournament. The fish was not on the bed at the time. There was a smaller fish on a bed that I was fishing for when I saw a big shadow swimming deeper out near my boat. After catching the fish that was on the bed and leaving, several hours later that 11-pound fish was not locked on the bed. It took a while, but I was able to catch her and haven’t caught a bigger one since. I have a few things that I have tied on if I’m fishing the lakes. Number 1 would be a white 3/8-1/2-ounce jig. The jig is my go-to bed fishing bait if I can see the bed. It’s small, compact and really aggravates bed fish. Second would be a Shaky Head worm or some sort. I’ve really became a fan of Frenzy Baits Nail Head. Paired with a Zoom Trick worm in watermelon red or a Robo Worm in MMII, fished parallel to the bank between 5 and 15 feet deep, is sure to aggravate a lot of fish either guarding their fry or protecting their beds. Number 3 would be a Senko, wacky rigged or Texas rigged on a small worm weight. The 5-inch Senko is deadly on most lakes this time of year. As far as colors watermelon red is my personal favorite.