BassWestUSA - July/August, 2009, Page 26

TULE

Tap dancE

from exterior views, so peak inside any sig- nificant passages and you may find a gold- mine of flipping opportunity. Newman describes the importance of working with the water: “The tides are very, very important. I have had areas where you cannot get a nibble until the tide switches. When it does, you can put (five bass weigh- ing) 30 pounds in the boat in 10 minutes. “I can’t tell you how many times I have sat on a spot, caught nothing and fi- nally left. Later, someone will tell me that 10 minutes after I left, it went wide open. It wasn’t because it was the magic time for the fish to eat, but because the tide switched. When you start to understand that you can save yourself a lot of time and heartache.” Some opt for “chasing (or “running”) the tide” – the strategy of hopping up the coast with incoming water, or down the

line with a falling cycle to stay on top of a productive pattern. For example: Maybe you find the fish stacking on rocky points with tules an hour into the outgoing tide. Fish your top spot until the action fades, move a few miles south and by then, the progressing tide should be reaching a simi- lar stage on similar spots. For rising or falling tides, remember that all the water in the Delta doesn’t move at once. Tides are gradual occurrences that move symmetrically throughout a region. Time it right and you can often keep a good Delta tule bite rolling for a couple of hours. With a lifetime of local knowledge, Barrack prefers a more targeted approach based on learning how predators and prey position at various tide levels and then tar- geting the right areas at the right time. “The only time I run the tide is when we have consistent weather because the (fishing) pattern is consistent,” he said. “But when we have fluctuating weather and the barometer is bouncing all over the place, just pick a 6-square mile area and fish the high and low tide. Just be obser- vant and fish what looks good.”

Green fishes throughout tule range. He seeks recurring patterns within the vegetation. “I look at the tules as a lake with points, secondary points, mouths of creeks etc.,” Green said. “(For example,) if you pattern the bigger fish in pockets off the second- ary sparse tule points, you can pretty much use that same pattern in most of the tule areas. The miles of tules are intimidating but if you break it down like that you can save a lot of time by eliminating dead water or staying in productive water.” Throughout the delta, Hughson, Calif. pro Ish Monroe flips tule with Texas rigged Sweet Beavers anchored by Tru-Tungsten flipping weights. Like most anglers, Mon- roe finds that flipping allows him to work a lengthy area by quickly probing likely fea- tures to determine the fish’s temperament on a given day. Similarly, Green often hunts Clear Lake spawners by pitching a weightless Texas-rigged Senko into pockets within patches of sparse tules. Some of this is guesswork, but experience guides him

producTiVe pATTerns

When a thick misty blanket settles into the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley areas of California’s Great Central Valley, folks call it “tule fog” because its density resembles that of the aquatic vegetation sprouting throughout the Delta region. Although the fog is known for causing serious traffic issues, its namesake has a far more benevolent reputation. A large species of sedge in the Cyperaceae family, the tule has a thick, rounded green stem with long, grasslike leaves topped by clusters of light brown flowers. Growing to about 10 feet along creeks and 15-20 feet in marshlands, tules play an important ecological role by filtering water and buffering shorelines from the full force of wind and waves. This allow other types of plants to take root and reduce erosion. The Common Tule ( Schoeunoplectus acutus ) is the most abundant of 17 species occurring in California. The word “tule” comes from the indigenous Mexican word tullin (Nahuatl for “bulrush”). Early settlers from New Spain likened the marsh plants flourishing throughout the Central Valley to those in the marshes around Mexico City. Notably, tules once lined the now-extinct Tulare Lake – formerly the largest freshwater body in the Western U.S. Located in the south end of the San Joaquin Valley, the lake was drained for land speculation during the early 20th century, but colloquial remembrance remains in the old Californian phrase “out in the tules”, which means “beyond far away.” California’s Native American Indians harvested tules and fashioned shelters, boats, and sleeping/sitting mats from the durable stalks. Grinding dried tule yielded flour while various preparations of this plant held medicinal properties. Today, visitors to Anderson Marsh State Historic Park at the south end of Clear Lake can tour an authentic Pomo Indian village with handmade tule houses, while the annual tule boat building workshops and team races are a local favorite at Big Valley Rancheria southwest of Clear Lake.

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July/August 2009

TuLe TidBiTs