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

The Trip cont'd: Before my first cast, Cooch had me join him up front on his twenty foot, ten inch Stratos, and he explained to me, the nuances of the Senko presentation that had been working over the last several days. In the Spring, the common presentation for Senko fishing on the Delta is to pitch it up near visible structure and just dead stick it. Fish usually hit it on the fall or strike it while it is on the bottom. This early in the year, Cooch’s suggestion was to let it sink, but then, pick the Senko up, ever so slightly using the rod tip in an effort to make the bait’s head rise and fall ever so subtly. Repeat action as you work the bait slowly back to the boat. We each made a cast or two with no hits and then he pointed to a spot on the water and told me to take the first shot.


Lurking around every point, dock, or clump of tules in the California Delta lies the potential of a big fish


I pitched my bait out, let it sink, and after the first lift of my rod tip felt a tick-tick. I set hook quickly and Cooch shouted, “There she is!”. The fish swirled and flashed and we could see she was a good four or five pound fish! Cooch wanted to get his net saying “that’s a picture fish!” but I didn’t want to cause a big commotion on this quiet spot, so I bent down to lip the fish, only to have her come off right on the side of the boat. Ouch! Oh well, no picture this time. I think Cooch may very well have been more excited than I!


That one hit verified Cooch’s theory for the day, so we thought we had them pegged, only to find out, over the next half hour, that the fish I had lost was apparently, the only one to be had in that area. The next step? We crossed the channel and picked up our jig rods returning to a pattern that had been solid weeks prior to our trip: hopping a jig from the shallow rip rap levee walls out to submerged weed beds in twelve to fifteen feet of water. Another quick demonstration from the Master on his technique, another cast, and nothing for the next thirty to forty-five minutes. It was time for the spinnerbait.


More of what the California Delta has to offer


Over the next hour or two, we repeated our rotation of baits until finally, after an average of one fish per hour, we narrowed down the bite to our original approach. To help matters, the weather stabilized as the wind came and left, sprinkles started and stopped, and the sun appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared. Through it all the water in the area we were fishing continued to warm. By early afternoon we were looking at partly cloudy skies with a slight 5 mph breeze, and water temperatures close to 54. The Senko bite turned on! Our previous average of one fish per hour quickly picked up as we worked a rock wall and picked up a couple of solid four and five pound fish.


Then it happened. Cooch pitched up to a seemingly benign oddity along the shoreline, worked his Senko out about six or seven feet from shore and then, fish on! There was a mad swirl in the water and he called for the net as I could hear line being pulled out from his reel! I hunted feverishly amongst the compartments on his front deck with the knowledge that if Cooch is asking for the net, I better find one quick! That I did as the monster of the bass that Cooch was battling finally revealed herself and she was BIG! I slipped the net into the water and Cooch guided her in expertly. The prize? A 10.1 pound hawg!


The smile says it all even if the photograph doesn't do the fish justice. Cooch standing proud holding his 80th +10lb bass to date!


You should have seen the smile on Cooch’s face. It was as if this was his first double-digit bass ever when in fact, this was number eighty! Seasoned pro, master jig fisherman, expert guide, no matter, what I saw before me was the kid in Cooch beaming at the trophy-class fish he had just caught and how proud he was to share that accomplishment with me. I was honored.


This fish was just under 4 lbs and turned out to be our second smallest of the day but caught early enough to warrant a picture


Conclusion: There’s a reason we use “The River” as Cooch refers to the California Delta, as one of our primary testing grounds for the tackle we report to you. It is truly a world class fishery. Whether you’re a local or hope to travel to our home waters at some future point in time, enlisting the services of a qualified, professional guide can certainly enhance your fishing experience and bring you the chance for the fish of a lifetime. My personal experience, fishing with Cooch, held very little fish-catching expectation because I know, and realize, you can never predict the outcome when it comes to fishing. My goal was to experience, first hand, the approach of a tournament-minded fisherman, share some time with a seasoned professional, and refine my jig fishing technique. I accomplished all these goals, but what really stuck with me was, no matter how much time you spend on the water, no matter how many fish you’ve caught, a big fish has the potential to bring out the giddiness in just about anyone. Even though it wasn't I who hooked that bass, it certainly was a team effort getting her in the boat. Equally satisfying was seeing the enthusiasm that Cooch exuded over this fish especially when there was nothing on the line but the simple goal of having a good time.


One last look at Cooch's 10lb bass!


Guide Info: I booked this trip with Cooch as a private endeavor, at my own expense, and at his full rate. The idea for this article came only after our day was complete and was written as my personal thank you to a great fisherman and friend for a wonderful time on the water. Thanks Cooch, see you again on the water, but in the meantime, keep up that smile!


To book your own trip with Cooch on the Delta, Clear Lake, Lake Camanche, or other Northern California fishing destinations, please visit his website at http://www.coochsfishing.com. For more information including rates and accommodations at Cooch’s Fishing Lodge, please use the contact information on his site.












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