Moving toward prime time for stripers in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta – largemouth bite on the upswing

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SOO HOO STRIPERS – Clients of Jeff Soo Hoo of Soo Hoo Sport Fishing pose with limits of quality Delta stripers taken trolling on the Sacramento side.
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BY DAVE HURLEY

RIO VISTA – Striped bass continue to flood into the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, and the future over the next few months look very bright for a solid run. Largemouth bass action is also improving as the water clarity is improving along with the temperatures on the drop.  Sturgeon anglers are also making a comeback in Suisun Bay although the diamondbacks have been there all summer long.

For largemouth bass, Vince Borges of Vince Borges Outdoors found a wide-open bite at the bottom of the tide with chatterbaits in the north Delta. He said, “What a difference a day makes as once the tide slowed down, we had a light’s out bite with over 70 bass in 1.5 hours for a limit over 20 pounds. Before the tide dropped, we picked away at some little fish and striped bass from 4 to 10 pounds. The previous day, we caught numbers of bass before the tide bottomed out, but we weren’t able to find any large bass for a limit at 11.5 pounds.”

Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “Catching fish isn’t a problem but hooking into a larger grade of bass is a challenge. The best bets are to work near current where it is making a bend around a corner. I would avoid the central Delta right now as there is a lot of dead water and focus north or west. There are no good weed bunches in Frank’s Tract in the central Delta right now, and the lack of weeds has a major effect on the entire ecosystem from the insects to the predators like stripers and largemouth bass. I recommend having a few baits at the ready – a bladed jig with a red/blue, green pumpkin/red, or dark Chigger Craw trailer, a Dep’s Evoke squarebill crankbait in crawdad patterns, or flipping a creature bait like a Chigger Craw or a Pit Boss. The Evoke squarebill crankbait caught a lot of fish, and it landed the better fish the day prior to the tournament. We were culling throughout the day, but it was only a matter of ounces. It is a matter of making multiple casts tight to the banks.”

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Danny Berbena of Nor Cal Bass said, “I’ve found a good topwater bite, even during mid-morning in the western part of the San Joaquin section of the river near Venice Island. Black or white Whopper Ploppers are working on the surface, and later in the day, I have been punching weed patches with Sweet Beavers with a 1-ounce punch weight. Our next tournament is this coming Saturday, September 16, at Ladd’s Marina in Stockton, and as the summer 6-hour rules are over, it will be a full-length tournament from safe light to 3:00 p.m.”

The visibility in the central Delta ranges from 4 to 6 feet, and the water temperature is around 75 to 76 degrees with less visibility in the south Delta. A variety of lures are working with small 4-inch topwater poppers, frogs, jerkbaits, flukes, glide baits, and punching the weeds. It is a matter of finding moving current. A 13.20-pound largemouth bass was caught and released on a 4-inch popper in baby bass in Fourteen Mile Slough.

For striped bass, Jeff Soo Hoo of Soo Hoo Sport Fishing out of Lauritzen’s Yacht Harbor in Oakley reported great action during a combined trip with Delta Fishing Charters. He said, “We trolled on the Sacramento side, and although the wind was blowing, it was doable. The water is looking good, and we have been finding a solid grade of stripers deep-trolling Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows around 14 feet in depth. The best fishing has been when the tides slow down before the start of the incoming or outgoing. The weeds are far less of a nuisance when the tides back off. We are trolling right now, but we will be drifting live bait within a few weeks once the water cools a few more degrees.”  Soo Hoo is guiding on weekends only at the present time.

Omega Nguyen of Mega Bait and Tackle in Lathrop reported interest in bank fishing has improved with blood worms, and he said, “A lot of people are catching fish now. Blood worms have been the main bait, but we have fresh shad in the shop now, and prime time for shad fishing on the anchor is coming soon. The Antioch Fishing Pier, Sherman Island Road, and Isleton have been the top areas for striped bass from the banks. In our area in the south San Joaquin, the banks have been limited to the occasional striper, but it is mostly bluegill and catfish. The shad is getting larger, and I think the butterflied shad bite will take off within two weeks. We also have plenty of minnows, and the extra-large ones are almost as big as the jumbos.”

For sturgeon, Kyle Wise of Head Hunter Guide Service said, “The sturgeon bite is on fire right now around the Benicia/Martinez Bridge. Most of the party boats have been concentrating around the bridge right now, and the bite has been on.” Six packs are returning to Pittsburg from San Francisco Bay, and Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing has brought the six-pack ‘Top Gun’ back to the Delta. There are major regulation changes on the horizon for white sturgeon, and the next opportunity for public input on soon-to-be proposed regulation changes will be during the Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting on Tuesday, September 19 at the San Jose Scottish Rite Center. The agenda is posted at https://fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2023. Instructions to join the meeting either in person or by Zoom are also shared on this website. The next meeting where regulations changes may be formally proposed will be the Fish and Game Commission on October 11. Regulation changes for white sturgeon in 2024 include the possibility of catch-and-release only for the calendar year until new regulations can be adopted for 2025 reflecting a harvest rate of 4 percent.

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