2010 Elite Series - Duel in the Delta California Delta - Stockton, CA, Mar 11 - 14, 2010

California dreamin'

About the author

Charlie Hartley

Charlie Hartley

After a career as a professional skateboarder, Charlie Hartley began fishing B.A.S.S. events in 1993.

I'm on the Delta practicing for the first 2010 Elite event. This place is something else. We haven't been here for a while. I'd forgotten what it was like. It's bigger than I remembered and about as "fishy" a place as I've ever been on. It's basically a series of canals or narrow waterways — thousands of them — that extend into backwater areas. No matter where you stop there's shallow water with deep water nearby. It's perfect for bass fishing. It's extraordinary.

Check it out on Google Earth. Imagine every blue finger you see filled with shallow water habitat and a channel that's 30 or 40 feet deep. That's what I'm fishing, and it's never ending. They have reeds out here that they call tulles. All you have to do to catch a bass is toss a plastic stickbait into them and let it fall naturally. It'll be "fish on" in a matter of moments.

The problem is those fish won't be big enough to win, or at least the ones I've been catching haven't been big enough. I don't think I've fished anywhere that I haven't caught a keeper bass. That's a two-edged sword, however. It's great if you're out fishing for fun. There's no way to complain about nonstop action. But it's real trouble if you're a professional angler fishing against the best.

There's no pattern ... or at least none I've discovered yet. To win at this level you need that pattern, something that'll separate you and your fish from the rest of the guys. Without it you're dead meat. Somehow I've got to figure out a way to isolate the bigger bass and increase my odds of catching a few of them during competition. Even then, however, one or two big ones won't help. It'll take all big fish plus a giant or two to turn heads at the weigh-in and put you in the running.

The weather will be a factor, too. What we're seeing now will be nothing like what we see on Thursday and beyond. Sunday, the day before we were allowed to practice, it was gorgeous. Then on Monday it rained all day and the temperatures dropped steadily. Today (Tuesday) it's sunny but cold. It's supposed to get to 39 degrees, but if that's going to happen it had better get moving. We've got a long ways to go. It's supposed to get better, though. The forecast says we'll have increasing air temperatures all week and through the weekend. If that happens, the water will warm a few degrees every day. Warming water means moving, active bass.

No one needs to tell you what that means with 95 of the best bass anglers on the planet out there after them. I'd guess we'll see triple-digit weights before all is said and done. Stay tuned! It looks like this one's going to be a real slugfest.