How to Fish for Striped Bass in the California Delta

How to Fish for Striped Bass in the California Delta
Striped bass were introduced into San Francisco in 1879 and flourished in the delta formed where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers enter San Francisco Bay. Stripers feed in the open Pacific Ocean during their adult lives only to return to the delta in preparation for the annual spawning migration into fresh water. During their stay in the brackish waters of the delta, anglers can target these large predators with a variety of tactics.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Show Them the Dinner Plate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rod and reel
  • Crankbaits
  • Soft body plastic lures
  • Flies
Step 1
Casting large crankbaits is a great way to cover water and find actively-feeding striped bass in the delta. Because these oversized bass have been feeding on anchovies and other baitfish in the Pacific Ocean, the desire to take advantage of an easy meal is never out of reach. Look for current breaks off the river mouths as these areas offer a resting place and ambush point for big stripers.
Step 2
Jigging with large soft plastic lures, such as a Storm Wild Eye Swim Shad, can also produce great catches. Cast the lures out, let them sink to the bottom and then jig them back to the boat. Stripers will often follow these lures and strike them on the drop, so be ready to pick up the slack to set the hook hard.
Step 3
Fly casting with large baitfish streamers like a Deceiver can be another good approach to catching delta striped bass. Be sure to use a stout 9 to 10 weight fly rod with a shooting head and sink tip for long casts that will get your fly down in the strike zone. A quick retrieve with short strips often works best, but be sure to vary the retrieve throughout the day as stripers may want the fly presented in a different manner.

Tips & Warnings

Be sure to add a scent like anchovy oil to your presentation. Since delta water tends to be a bit murky from the rivers' influence, adding a strong scent will help stripers home in on your lure.
Watch the weather forecast. Strong winds can make the delta water rough and dangerous to fish.


Article Written By Brian M. Kelly

Brian M. Kelly has been freelance writing since 2003. His work has been published in respected outdoor magazines such as Outdoor Life, Great Lakes Angler and Salmon Trout Steelheader. He holds an associate's degree in automated machine design from Macomb College.

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