On My Water, the California Delta
I’ve always tried to keep the majority of the articles on the broader platform of learning. This piece is a little different; I want to share something about your water that you may never think of. Every moment you fish your favorite lake, with your best buddy, your dad, grandpa or anyone else special to you – cherish it.
I’m sitting here in our new home town of Rainbow City, Alabama, on the edges of Gadsden watching the Bassmaster Elite Series fish on the California Delta, out of Sacramento; the area I called home since I was 15 years old. I have to be honest, it kind of hurts that I’m not there.
I didn’t get into fishing tournaments hardcore until after college. I played baseball, and that was my sole focus until I got injured my senior year. I had fished my whole life and competed in a couple of club tournaments prior to my senior year. Then, I had a major injury that ended my 19-year love affair with baseball, so I turned my attention to fishing. I’ve loved it since.
Nine days after I had surgery at the age of 23, the day after Thanksgiving, I went fishing, with a friend in his bass boat on the California Delta. Outside of Folsom Lake, which is only 15 minutes from my hometown of Loomis, I spent more time fishing on the Delta than anywhere else. I’ve been with friends when we had one-hundred-fish days in the heat of summer on frogs. I fished a day with my dad that was so frustrating (fishing wise) that when I saw and caught a 9-inch bass in the shallows, I yelled out, “Sight fishing for dinks!” We both still laugh about that one.
I’ve cashed tournament checks and I’ve been beat badly on the Delta. Also done photoshoots there with my friends Skeet Reese, Dee Thomas, Ish Monroe, Byron Velvick and Brent Ehrler.
I love it. I will always consider it my true birthplace as an angler. I loved fishing on Folsom, Oroville, Shasta and Clear Lake in Northern California, but for some reason, the Delta was always my favorite.
I suppose it was the place that made me feel like I connected with the heart of bass fishing in the South. I felt like it helped me better understand how it would be if I were fishing places like Guntersville, Pickwick, Logan Martin and the other famous lakes I’d read about.
So, when we got the call to move to Alabama and make this area our home, and move my fishing experiences to Neely Henry on the Coosa River and other lakes like Guntersville, I said goodbye to my classroom on the Delta. I took my dad, hooked up the boat and went to that tidal river that has elated and befuddled me for years and caught bass.
We fished close, no real running around, just a backwater slough where we caught them on topwater, flippin’ jigs and stickbaits, and I said goodbye. I said goodbye to my favorite fishery and goodbye to days easily spent on the water with my dad.
Now, a little less than a year from the day we pulled out of our Northern California driveway and drove 2,500 miles, the Elite Series made a return visit to the California Delta and I wish I had been there.
With new many new bass-rich water bodies within a short drive, I am able to learn new things, but I still miss that 1,500 miles of shoreline girl that stole my heart more than 20 years ago. The Elite Series was there in 2010, John Crews won on the Delta and Byron Velvick was victorious at Clear Lake. While I was waiting nearly five years for the series to return, I’m the one who left.
Don’t ever take for granted your favorite body of water you live near. Enjoy every minute of every exciting, frustrating and jubilant day you have there.
You never know when you will be watching it from afar.