Elite Destinations: California Delta

The Elite pros didn't compete on the California Delta last year, but not because they didn't want to. Serious bass fishermen everywhere consider this to be one of the best fisheries in the world.

 This is where Elite pro Mark Tyler caught his record 14-pound, 9-ounce giant (April 1999), the largest individual bass ever caught in BASS competition. The cast before he caught that one, Tyler hauled in another over 8 pounds. When the Bassmaster Tour pros fished here in 2003, Robert Lee won with a total of more than 86 pounds.

 Five separate rivers flow together between Stockton and San Francisco to form the Delta, which has been channelized into more than a thousand miles of canals and sloughs that eventually flow into San Francisco Bay. This channelization began in 1869 and today many of the old earthen dikes have broken to form shallow lakes. Water depth is seldom more than 20 feet and shoreline vegetation is abundant.

 The single most critical feature here is the tide, which fluctuates 4 to 5 feet daily. The challenge for the Elite pros at the Duel in the Delta will be positioning themselves in the right place just before the change begins, because that's when bass feed most actively.

 The trouble is the Delta has a lot of right places. Franks Tract is the largest lake in the Delta (more than 4 square miles), but numerous tournaments have also been won at Big Break, a slightly smaller lake with abundant vegetation. Discovery Bay and Sand Mound Slough are also locally famous hot spots. Wherever they fish, the pros will do best with jigs, plastic worms, lipless crankbaits and topwater frogs.

 Attractions:

 The Stockton Children's Museum, located near the downtown waterfront, features hands-on exhibits that will keep youngsters happily occupied for hours. Other attractions include the Cleaver Planetarium and the Haggin Museum. This is one of the richest agricultural areas in the state, and several farmers markets offer fresh produce at excellent prices. (www.stocktongov.com)

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