By DAVE HURLEY
STOCKTON –– With the heavy winds plaguing the Sacramento River side of the Delta, trollers have been focusing on the slightly calmer waters of the San Joaquin. A huge minus tide will provide a special set of challenges this week as the main rive will become dirty from the tide along with the heavy amounts of debris dragged out of the slough and off of the banks.
Striped bass action remains outstanding with trollers working the calmer waters of the San Joaquin. Dave Houston, trolling expert, said, “We had a good day on Thursday as we stayed in the upper part of the San Joaquin. Chartreuse was the go-to color pattern early in the morning before switching to white later in the day. There are large schools stacked up, but when they are flat on the ground is when we get them trolling. We ended up with 24 keepers by noon with most in the 5- to 10-pound range, keeping four limits.”
Nelson Vineyard of Topline Sport Fishing said, “Striped bass action in the San Joaquin remains good with reports of schools from the lower San Joaquin upriver to Prisoner’s Point and on the Sacramento River from Collinsville above the Rio Vista Bridge. Trollers are doing well on either deep- or shallow-diving lures with the best colors being red/white, chartreuse, or crawdad patterns. Live bait has been my go-to this season due to the rising cost of fuel as I can run the electric motor for the day, cutting down the fuel cost. We have been scoring by power-drifting live bait anywhere from 1 to 2 mph around 10 feet in depth, but there are a number of stripers pushing up into the shoals. When the fish are in the shoals, I will swing my gear into 5 to 6 feet with the key paying attention to electronics and doubling back to the area where I mark the most fish throughout the day, focusing in on particular areas with structure. The water temperature on Thursday was 63 degrees on the lower San Joaquin, and I have noticed that the water temperature has started to stabilize as it is not fluctuating up and down like it was last week. Fishing will remain good until the water temperatures reach the 70-degree mark. The stripers were are bringing to the cleaning table are all loaded with crawdads in their bellies which is one of the first signs of our river system transitioning into summer. With the great action, I have extended my spring season into June.”
Vineyard put Casey Pham onto a 42-inch striped bass estimated at over 26 pounds on the minnows before releasing the big fish.
Captain Jeff Soo Hoo of Soo Hoo’s Sport Fishing said, “Fishing is very good as we have been scoring limits on a daily basis drift live bait on the San Joaquin side. We are still not seeing big groups of fish, but when the tide is right, the fish are stacking up in certain areas. With the bigger tides this week, the window will be smaller, but we are finding our best action on the first push of the outgoing tide. We put in 8 early limits on Sunday, and we have been releasing the bigger fish throughout the week, keeping the smaller males for the table. The fish are moving on a daily basis, and the minnows are working much better than spoons right now. When we run out of bait after catching and releasing up to 60 fish, we try the spoons, but the fish are more reluctant to hit the lures.”
James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service said, “I have been modifying my trolling speed a bit slower, and it seems to have made all of the difference. We are trolling 2.3 mph against the current and from 4.1 to 4.5 mph with the current, and the best bite has been on the outgoing tide as the bite dies on the incoming. The outgo before the bottom of the tide has been the best, and fishing has been fantastic around the shoals. We are starting the day by seeing singles of big females on the meter before the males start to coming in. Once the males arrive, they are stacked up. We witnessed a spawn on the San Joaquin this week as the surface was covered with white and the males were going crazy on the surface.’
For largemouth bass, Vince Borges of Vince Borges Outdoors said, “The weather has been the big factor as it has been incredibly inconsistent. One day it will be warm and stable, and the next day, it will be blowing 20 mph. We are targeting post-spawn bass with Reaction Innovation’s Skinny Dippers or chatterbaits, and it is time to start focusing upon the channels and the cuts in the currents instead of the flats. I prefer to work the shallow flats, but the bass are transitioning although there are still fish on beds. I predict a good frog bite this summer as we had a dozen blow ups that didn’t stick on frogs this week, and this always happens at this time of year where they don’t really commit. The weights in the Wednesday Night Shoot Out at Ladd’s have been down overall, but there is always one team that finds close to 20 pounds.”
Dave King of Nor Cal Bass launched out of Paradise Point with his young son on Saturday, and he found a good early morning topwater bite with Spooks or Whopper Ploppers before switching over to Senkos or Brush Hogs when the tide changes. He said, “There are fish on beds, and although I wasn’t targeting them, I blind-casted into the shallows with a Brush Hog for bass at 3.5 and 5 pounds. Our next Delta Series tournament is Saturday, May 28th out of Ladd’s in Stockton.”
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “My game plan for largemouth bass is to look for a surface bite before first light before looking for the bass that spawned out two months ago. These fish will be hanging outside the weedlines in deeper water. The bass yet to spawn have been plagued by the constant winds creating 1- to 2-foot waves in the shallows where the bass are attempting to make their beds. For the spawned-out fish, I will start with a Berkley Hit Worm or General on light line on a Zappu head along with something of a crawdad imitation like a Pit Boss or a Chigger Craw. Anglers that have been out there the past few days are reporting not seeing any bed fish.”
The 10th Costa Bass-N-Fly is less than a month away on June 9/10 out of Sugar Barge RV Resort and Marina on Bethel Island, and the two-day even will feature prizes, awards, and swag from the top gear companies. The event hasn’t been held in two years due to the pandemic. This is a fly-fishing only event for largemouth, smallmouth, or spotted bass with a daily weigh in at 2:00 p.m. before fun-filled afternoons. Registration is available at http://bass-n-fly.com/registration-page/.
In the south Delta, Omega Nguyen of Mega Bait and Tackle in Lathrop said, “The south San Joaquin River below Mossdale has been slow for striped bass, mostly due to the thick hyacinth along the banks out to 10 feet. Boaters are finding better action as they are able to avoid the hyacinth by drifting minnows. The best bank fishing has been taking place around Turtle Beach, but there are number of undersized stripers.” Fresh shad is still a few weeks into the future as the shad are small and holding in the shallows within the hyacinth.”