In the delta in winter start deep and slow. Wherever you find a fish slow down and focus on that area and areas that are similar. I have had days on the delta where all my fish came off one spot. Not that I didn’t hit more spots but only one was right to get them to eat. Best flies right now are going to be jig flies, heavy leaches, bunny bombs on bottom and the Stage Diver and Wool Shell cracker if you’re around active fish. Good places to look would be marinas and dead end slues such as whisky or one of the thousand others in the delta.
Spotted bass / Smallmouth
If you haven’t been living under a rock you have obviously heard of the float and fly and that is the bite to look for all across all of California reservoirs right now. Our local reservoirs Melones and Don Pedro are both fishing excellent with large numbers of spotted bass being caught around rock piles and bluff walls. And the float and fly is the most effective way to catch them.
Fly choice is pretty simple start with baitfish patterns and if you’re sure you’re around fish and not catching them try a bug or leech pattern. Usually the spotted bass are feeding on one or the other. Sometimes something as simple as fly color change can mean the difference between catching bass and not. So we always suggest having a variety of colors and patterns available and periodically change them until you find one that they eat.
Some fish will chase bait up in to the creek arms in the afternoons but we really need more water for that to be a predictable bite. Reports from Northern California lakes are about the same with Shasta and Oroville getting a lot of attention with recent tournaments. Congrats again to Ryan Williams.
It’s winter, it’s tough. If you can’t find them they will feed eventually and they are catchable. The real problem this time of year becomes depth. The largemouth are deep with conventional guys catching them anywhere from 40 to 80 feet. A fly fishermen just has a hard time effectively fishing past 30 to 40 feet and getting to deep winter time largemouth can become difficult if not impossible.
One saving grace is creek arms; major creek arms in all of the major reservoirs contain back waters and on warm winter days these backwaters come to life.