California’s Delta has been rated in the top 10 of the best black bass fishing lakes in the United States by Bassmaster Magazine, putting a spotlight squarely on a truly amazing fishery that sits right at Stockton’s doorstep.
James Hall, editor of the magazine based in Birmingham, Ala., said the final list of lakes was based on data from state wildlife scientists and catch rates of countless fisheries, coupled with recommendations from bass fishing federations and their 500,000 members.
“For rankings we use the term ‘lakes,’ but this includes rivers, estuaries and deltas – all waters that boast incredible bass fisheries,” Hall said. “Being in the top 10 means anglers will find the three crown jewels of bass fishing when they go there – beautiful scenery, an opportunity to catch a fish of a lifetime and the chance to hook a bunch of fish.”
Tim Quilon, a member of the Bass Federation, who earlier this year put together an amazing run of nine consecutive tournament wins, believes the quality of the size of fish puts the Delta in a unique group of fisheries.
“Where else must you catch a 5-pound-per-fish average to have a chance of winning a tournament?” the Stockton resident asked.
The FLW Even Start tournament, held last Thursday through Saturday out of Russo’s Marina in Oakley under cool, blustery conditions, proves his point. Winning angler Jim Moulton of Merced boasted a five-fish limit each day to total 59 pounds, 13 ounces, to outdistance the field of 124 pro competitors. By defeating anglers from around the globe, he collected $34,636 and a Ranger Bass Boat.
Toshitada Suzuki, the second-place finisher, traveled halfway around the world from Japan to compete in his first FLW event to weigh 57.02 pounds of bass, falling 2.11 pounds short of claiming the championship.
The largest bass caught in the tournament was an 11.09-pounder, followed by numbers of 8s and 7s, and scores in the 4- to 5-pound bracket, showing the Delta’s quality and quantity of fish that awaits anglers.
Other local finishers included Lorenzo Rossetti of Stockton, 17th; Kyle Porter of Lodi, 31st; Alex Sanchez of Tracy, 86th; Phil Tilburg of Stockton, 92nd and Mike Cato of Lockeford, 97th. Each sacked five-fish daily limits but failed to hook larger fish.
On the Bassmaster Magazine list, Michigan’s Lake St. Clair took the No. 1 spot because of its legendary smallmouth population and emergence of its largemouth fishery. Elite Series pro Jason Christie won the most recent BASS event there with a three-day total of 67.4 pounds, while 135 of 147 pro anglers boated five-fish limits each day.
Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas took the list’s second spot, followed by Clear Lake (Northern California), Lake Guntersville (Alabama) and Lake Erie rounding out the top 5.
Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee jumped from 61st last year to sixth because the fishery is producing 40-pound limits. Completing the top 10 were Falcon Lake (Texas), Lake Okeechobee (Florida), the Delta and Toledo Bend Reservoir (Texas).
About the rankings, Hall said the selection process is as “all-encompassing and data-driven as we can make it.”
“Our goal is to identify the hottest lakes in the country so fishermen don’t have to worry about doing the research,” he said. ” An angler can look at this list and know that the lakes are very healthy and the odds of having a fantastic day on the water are high. The Delta certainly deserves its place among the elite lakes.”
Source: Stockton Record