Before I get started on this week’s column, I want to acknowledge Sharon Biffle’s health struggles and wish her the best. Becky and I are praying for her to make a full recovery. She’s a good person, and so is Tommy.
It’s Sunday evening. I just finished my tackle and can’t wait for tomorrow morning when I can get out on my home body of water. I’m as excited about this event as any I’ve ever fished. And, with a strong event on Lake Champlain last week, I feel like I have some positive momentum behind me.
The first thing I want to do this week is clarify some of what you may have heard about the Delaware River. Make no mistake about it: This river is full of largemouth and smallmouth bass. A ton of them call it home. You can catch them all day long if you understand tidal waters.
That’s not to say, however, that the river is full of big fish. It isn’t. I’d say the average largemouth weighs around 1 1/2 pounds and the average smallmouth weighs a little more, maybe 1 3/4 pounds.
In the 30-plus years I’ve been fishing her, the biggest bass I ever saw caught was around 6 1/2 pounds. I might have seen a half dozen over the years that weighed in at 5 pounds and maybe as many as 30 that tipped the scales at 4 pounds. A really nice Delaware River bass will go 3 pounds, largemouth or smallmouth.
I think the numbers are there because of an abundant food source. Every fish in the river has plenty to eat. I think the lack of size is because of the short lifespan of the fish. The tide rises and falls between 6 and 7 feet twice a day all of their lives. That’s a tough neighborhood. Old age comes real quick for a bass around here.
It’s no secret that this tournament means a lot to me for a lot of reasons. The trick for me is to successfully blend my historical knowledge of the river with whatever current conditions I find during practice and during the tournament.
I’m going to do that by trying my best to forget everything I know about this fishery until after I find out what’s going on out there. Once I know where, and when, the fish are feeding at the moment I want to catch them, I’ll tap into my knowledge of days past to find similar spots and areas that I can fish. That sounds easy enough as I write it but we all know that historical knowledge can jump up and bite you when you least expect it.
The last thing I want to say about this week is that B.A.S.S. did a good job scheduling a tournament on a metropolitan, heavy tidal river. The Elite Series is the best of the best when it comes to tournament bass fishing. I’m really glad that we’re competing somewhere different, somewhere we don’t go every year, somewhere that takes a totally different set of fishing skills. It’s a good thing to put our feet to the fire, and I’d say that even if this wasn’t my home water.