Most of the year Josh Parris is busy catching big fish on the Mother Lode Lakes or guiding his clients to their own big ones. But, he still loves the California Delta and the post-spawn, and throughout the summer you will find him there often.
We caught up with him as he was preparing for a trip to the Delta and asked him what he was rigging up.
Frogs, topwaters, flipping, punching and bluegill swimbaits were his top picks for catching big ones on the Delta right now.
“I throw frogs and punch and flip most of the time because that is what wins at the Delta 90 percent of the time from now until September,” he says. Those techniques are standbys here, and he always has them ready to go.
Having the right lures is one thing, but knowing where the bass are is just as important. Parris says the two keys for him this time of year are the tide and vegetation.
“I like an outgoing tide because it pulls all of the fresh fry, whether it is bass or crappie, out of the tules and weeds. There are good fish feeding on them as they get sucked out by the tide,” he says.
The other key is finding the right vegetation. Before summer gets into full swing, vegetation is still taking hold, and it is not matted everywhere. Parris has noted that elodea grows the fastest each year.
“It fills out faster and grows the soonest. I look for it, and a lot of times the more protected areas are going to have the thickest grass,” says Parris.
Frogs and Topwaters
The post-spawn and summer are primetime topwater fishing everywhere, and the Delta is no different. For frog fishing, he prefers the Optimum Poppin’ Furbit and says it is ready to go right out of the package.
“It has a great feel too it. It is soft enough to get a good hookset, but not too soft where it gets hung up all of the time,” Parris adds. “The addition of the rabbit fur is also nice because everyone else is throwing a frog with skirted legs.”
When it comes to color, he sticks with a Delta staple.
“Black and Yellow is my best producer. Hands down,” says Parris.
As for topwater lures, he likes a popper and prefers something with a little more bulk. The Deps Pulse Cod is his favorite. The Japanese topwater is over 3” long and has a unique internal spring with a weight attached.
“On some of the baits you can see that little spring, and it seems to put off more vibration, and that is important in dirtier water,” says Parris.
For topwater fishing, Parris likes to fish adjacent to flats and also marinas.
“I target the marinas themselves quite a bit this time of year; because, they constantly have fish coming and going,” he adds.
Flip and Punch
You can’t go wrong with these techniques any time of the year on the Delta and when the grass is starting to mat it is often the best way to catch a giant. Parris uses a wide-range of soft plastics but sticks to the tried and true Green Pumpkin and Black and Blue colors here. Some of his favorite baits are the Reins C-Pod (pictured) and Craw Tube.
He will use anywhere from a ¾- to 1 ½-ounce Reins tungsten TG Slip Sinker depending on the cover.
“I always go as light as I can get away with,” he says. “I have noticed that with the heavier weights the bass do not hold onto the bait as long, so I am always trying to use as light of a weight as possible.”
Swimbaits and Glide Baits
If Parris could get away with it, he would throw a big bait all day, every day. Fishing big swimbaits and glide baits is how he catches many of his biggest bass of the year, and he doesn’t put them away when he heads to the Delta.
This time of year, when the bass finish up spawning and turn their attention to the bluegill spawn, he matches the hatch so to speak and picks up the Deps Bullshooter which is a great sunfish imitator.
Parris keys on flats with the big baits here.
“I am looking for big flats and places where largemouth gather and ambush bluegill on the edges,” he shares.
With this handful of bait types, one can have success on the Delta once the water begins to warm and the calendar creeps into summer. The fishing often heats up with the weather and the big ones are still biting.