I'm on my way to Clear Lake, and do I ever feel great. I didn't win on the Delta but I did have a strong tournament — fourth place. Most importantly I redeemed myself from my mediocre performance the last time we were here. That was my goal. I'm not starting the year in the hole. I'm a happy man.
To make sure that didn't happen, I decided to approach this year's California events as if I'd never been here before. As far as I was concerned, I'd never seen the place. I even deviated from my usual practice of reviewing all my notes and working from them. They didn't get so much as a glance during my preparation.
It was fresh all the way. I looked at the Delta as nothing more than a big series of canals. They're all pretty much the same — steep sides, rock, and deep water in the middle. I searched for areas that had spawning flats nearby. I figured that's the only thing the bass needed besides what they already had.
The fish weren't holding on the flats. They were on the outside edge. Nevertheless, if there wasn't a flat nearby, there wasn't a bass. They were holding near grass waiting for the water to warm so they could spawn. I caught about 80 percent of my fish flipping and pitching Berkley plastics. The rest came on a LaserLure shallow running crankbait.
One of the most important things I did this week was fish my plastics with a high-speed Abu Garcia reel. I know a lot of guys like low gear ratios for flipping and pitching but this week was different.
The bite was real finicky. It was soft, almost subtle. As soon as they picked it up, they spit it back out. The high gear ratio allowed me to collect the slack in my line quickly and get a solid hookset before they could get rid of it.
That's one thing you guys might think about if you're fishing with plastics this year, especially for prespawn or spawning bass. Get the slack out of your line first, set the hook and then force the fish towards you with the rod. Don't worry so much about the loss of power with a high-speed reel. That's largely a myth, anyway.
Modern reels — especially Abu Garcia models — are engineering marvels. They aren't like the reels of old. They don't lose power with higher gear ratios. They hold up just fine with fish the size of largemouth bass. You don't need a low gear ratio to crank a 5- or 6-pound bass to the boat.
That's enough technical stuff for now. I want to relax for awhile before we get to our motel. Once we're checked in I'll go to bed and get some sleep. In the morning I'll get my tackle ready and start practicing.
Hopefully, my path towards redemption will continue. That's my goal, anyway.