“You can catch a fish on anything right now, but a fish over four pounds is the real challenge,” said CITGO Bassmaster Tour pro and four-time BASS champion on the Delta, Robert Lee.
Fellow Tour pro, Ishama Monroe agrees. “There’s lots of fish to be caught out here. I’m pretty sure everyone will catch a limit. If you don’t, then you might as well put your boat back on the trailer because you won’t stand a chance.”
The five-river system has been a sweet spot for western anglers, and often yields total weights of 50 pounds or more, but post-spawn conditions combined with summer’s surge of boating enthusiasts has left anglers searching for the big bass.
“The fishing hasn’t been as good as I expected,” said Lee. “I thought it would be a lot better. You’re going to see a lot of fish caught and most will get limits, but you’re just not going to see too many big bass.
“The last three years it’s taken an average of five pounds per fish to win, but if a guy catches a three to four pound average and 17 pounds a day, he’ll be doing great.”
With limits a near guarantee, both anglers hope that the rising tide will bring heavier weights to the scales.
“If the tide comes in while we’re fishing, it will really pick up,” said Monroe. “It’s high tide now and the outgoing fishing is great. The last two hours I’ve caught some pretty big fish.”
Monroe is fishing a variety of soft plastic baits on the river. Lee has also been working a variety of lures in shallow water close to weed beds and grass. During the high tide he prefers to use a frog or other topwater bait. As the tide recedes, Lee switches to a weightless stick worm like the Senko.
He’s adamant about the best color to use.
“Crawdad imitation – no matter what,” Lee said. “On this river it’s best to always stay with natural colors like brown, green and orange. Those are your best bets for any lure.”
Lee also pointed out that those pros fishing the lakes may have bigger weights than those on the river system.
“I think we’ll see some bigger weights coming from the flooded lakes instead of the river because of boat traffic. As long as the wind stays calm and doesn’t blow too hard, the topwater bite will be good.”
Although the lake bite may be better in theory, Lee plans to stick to the river system, fishing what he knows best.
“I’ve never fished the lakes, and it’s tough to try and learn a new area,” said Lee. “I’m going to stick with my strengths and areas where I’m confident. I’ll make some adjustments each day and see what happens.”
“There are a lot of fish to be caught here, and a variety of baits to be thrown,” said Monroe. “It’s going to be a good tournament with a lot of fish and some close weights.”
Daily weigh-ins will take place at Russo’s Marina.
The second Western Open will be held Oct. 13-15 on Clear Lake, near Lakeport, Calif. The Western Opens will conclude Nov. 17-19 on Lake Shasta in Shasta Lake, Calif.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2277 or visit www.bassmaster.com.