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Guide Trips

A Day on the Water with Andy "Cooch" Cuccia... Fish On!

Date: 3/16/06
Guide Service: Cooch's Fishing
Destination: California Delta
Reviewer: Cal

Introduction: Andy Cuccia, or “Cooch” as he prefers, has been fishing the waters of Northern California for over thirty years, and makes his home on the California Delta, one of the premier black bass waters in all of the United States. He’s on the pro-staff for Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, Mojo Weight Systems, WesternBass.com, among others, and is a an author for Inside Line Magazine. But above all, Cooch is a fisherman. As stated on his website, fishing isn’t what he does, it’s what he is, and he is never one to shy away from the opportunity to share his passion for and knowledge of this sport with anyone. So what happens when a fishing enthusiast teams up with a tackle enthusiast for a day on the water? Well, pull up your trolling motor, tie yourself up to the nearest dock and sit with us a spell as I share with you, my day on the water with Cooch.


Cooch makes his home right on the California Delta but is available for guide trips on several other lakes and reservoirs in Northern California


Background: I’ve employed guide services in several different travel destinations ranging from Costa Rica to Cabo San Lucas to Hawaii and have always associated the opportunity to fish with a guide as part in parcel of traveling to an exotic land. Never had I thought to hire one to fish an area with which I was already familiar. Afterall, why would I need to hire a guide to fish in waters that I can get to myself? The truth is, a good guide can help accelerate your learning curve or help open your eyes to new and even old techniques because many of them spend practically every waking moment on the water. They are an invaluable resource to learning the ins and outs of any fishable waterway.


The California Delta provides world-class fishing in a pristine setting


After a couple of years of “tackle testing” trips, I decided it was time to step off the front deck, hand over the controls of the trolling motor, get back to just fishing and take a little mini-vacation on the back of someone else’s boat. Cooch was a natural choice as I’ve always wanted to learn his approach to jig fishing – a time proven, basic technique to catching nice limits of bass.


Cooch is not only active on the water but is also out on the lecture circuit, shown here, sharing his tips and techniques at a local consumer tackle show


Booking: The big question when booking a trip with any guide service is whether or not the weather will cooperate. Booking a trip in late February/early March is always a gamble in Northern California and 2006 has proven especially unpredictable. Nevertheless, I took the plunge and contacted Cooch in early February through email about his availability. We were already familiar with one another but had yet to meet face to face. We worked out the details, and weather permitting, were set for a date in late February.


Three nights prior to our arranged date, Northern California was pummeled by a tropical storm with winds in excess of sixty to seventy miles per hour. That subsided in a day or two only to see the onset of an artic storm dropping temperatures by at least twenty degrees and bringing with it, thunderstorms and hail! The actual decision of whether or not to fish would come down to an on the water discussion that very morning.


The MBR844C GLX and Conquest 51 make a really nice jig fishing combo


The Tackle: You didn’t really think we’d publish an entire article without mentioning the tackle we used, did you? Since I didn't really know what to expect fishing on someone else's boat, my choice in tackle came down to comfortable lengths in rods to get the job done but not get in the way when laid about the boat; the reels I chose are high performing yet durable in their finish so I wouldn't have to worry about dropping them at a moment's notice; and my line had to be able and withstand any type of structure Cooch might put us on. I brought with me then, four outfits to cover the different techniques Cooch figured we’d employ: a heavy action jig rod; a heavy action rod for fishing six-inch Senkos; a medium-heavy rod for fishing Texas rigged worms; and a cranking stick which, for this trip, I was using as my spinnerbait rod. Of course, I brought along an extra stick for Cooch to sample as well.


Complete Guide Trip Setups

Technique Rod Reel Line
Jig Loomis MBR844C GLX Shimano Conquest 51 20lb Sunline Shooter FC
Senko Megabass F5.5-68XFTi Diablo Daiwa I'ZE Light 20lb Sunline Shooter FC
Spinnerbait Megabass F4-610GT Shiryu Shimano Conquest 101DC 12lb Yozuri Soft
Tx-Rig Megabass F4.5-68XFTi Jabberwock Evoluzion Shimano Antares AR 12lb Yozuri Hybrid


What happens when you combine a fishing enthusiast with a tackle enthusiast on the same boat? You get smiles like these... Cooch holding his first Megabass fish, a chunky 4+ pound largemouth caught while checking out the F5-69X Brigandage that I loaned him for our trip


The Trip: It was an hour and a half journey amidst blue skies and an open road to Cooch’s Fishing Lodge. When I finally arrived, the sky had changed to grey with cloud cover from horizon to horizon. The air temperature was in the high 40’s to low 50’s. My first thought was how would today’s bite present itself under these crazy weather conditions. Cooch greeted me with his friendly smile and a hearty handshake. He gave me a hand with my gear and off we went to his boat that was already in the water and parked out back. The strange weather and threat of rain was not going to keep us from our mission of fishing fun.


I communicated with Cooch, prior to our trip, that my primary objective was to see what he goes through in locating and catching fish each time he goes out on the water. My secondary objective, as expressed earlier, was to learn from the master himself, how he chooses to fish the jig and under what conditions.


A sneak peak at one of our 2006 rods for review, the Megabass F5 1/2-68XFTi Diablo paired with a Daiwa I'ZE Lite. This combo even caught Cooch's attention until I told him the costs involved!


With that in mind, I took a seat in his boat and we took a quick, very cold run over to Bethel Island and found an area that contains, in microcosm, most of what the Delta has to offer in terms of structure and therefore, a good area pattern the fish for a day. Our first lure of choice? The six-inch Yamamoto Senko. Having the good fortune of fishing the Delta almost daily, Cooch was already onto the fact that the fish, despite adverse weather conditions and water temperatures in the low 50’s, had started to move up shallow. Under these conditions in the Delta, the Senko can be deadly. Our first mission was to verify this bit of information.


Next Section: The Trip cont'd and the Fish









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