If this winter has been an indication of what early spring has in store for us, I’m predicting a lot of rain this year. There seems to be a pattern of drought-like conditions for several years that are followed with borderline flooding conditions. Just last year, there were several places that flooded nearby. There’s sure to be more this year, if we have another series of storms like we have had these past few years. For fishing, this can good and bad.
The good, would be that it would fill up our lakes and rivers allowing more places for the fish to live, and consequently, more places for the anglers to fish. The bad, would be that excessive flooding could cause closures of some of our favorite local fishing spots.
Several years ago, I can remember the Delta being closed to boaters. Just two years ago, Lake Oroville was closed for a period while repaired had to be done to its dam. The prefect scenario would be if there were just enough rain and snow to keep us out of a drought. That doesn’t seem to happen too often though, so it’s better to prepare for a lot of rain.
February/March are great times to be out on the Delta. For bass, the bites are often tough to pattern. The fish are most likely pre spawn and full of eggs. It’s also time to pay close attention to the water temperature. The magic temperature is 55 degrees for bass looking to spawn. I used to stay around the Stockton area waiting for the fish to make their way shallow. I’ve since learned that the earliest and best spring fishing usually happens in the West Delta first. Areas like Franks Tract and Sherman Island are definitely spots that I would target first. The Delta is very interesting this time of year. I don’t understand why certain places turn on sooner than others, I just know that I’ve lost a lot of money over the years waiting for my areas to turn on, while other parts of the Delta were on fire. As far as baits, it’s hard to beat a black and blue jig with a black and blue trailer. Pitched around sparse tulles the jig has caught a lot of big fish for me. Second would be a wacky rigged Senko. I like green pumpkin, or even a black and blue flaked Senko. If you’re looking towards getting a reaction bite. One of my favorite baits in the early spring is a half-ounce red spinnerbait with two willow leaf gold blades. My favorite being the Strike King Premier Plus spinnerbait.
This time of year in the lakes can be difficult for a lot of anglers. One of the biggest challenges can be the conditions of the lake. If there’s a lot of rain the lake can be very stained due to run off and if there’s not much rain the lakes can be very clear and cold. The fish seem to like both conditions but for the anglers the bite can be great one day and non-existent the next day. All our local lakes are being planted with trout. There are a lot of trout usually found up shallow for those preferring to fish with bait and those who prefer to fish with lures. For anglers trolling, usually from the surface down to 20 feet deep is where the trout can be found. As many of you already know, one of my favorite baits to troll is a Triple Teaser chrome with a hammered finish. The bait is one of the simplest of lures but still my go to bait when I just need a bite. For bass, there are sure to be some fish making their way shallow, but I would focus on deeper fish. The bites are the most consistent and they’re easier to pattern. As far as baits, it’s hard to beat a Frenzy Nail paired with a trick worm in green pumpkin. I also like to fish a Frenzy Whack-A-Sack with a Smallie Beaver that is nose hooked. As far as a reaction bait, this time of year is a good time to fish an Umbrella Rig at a variety of depths and retrieves until you get a bite.
It may be tough to stay dry and warm during the months of February through March, but with patience and persistence, you may be surprised at the results. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that the fish aren’t going to get any wetter, and that if I waited until I hear about the fish biting, I’m usually too late.