River run Striped bass report!

Sacramento River - CA

California Delta Stripers caught on a recent trip out of B&W Resort Marina.
Photo Credit: Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service

by Jeff Goodwin

Spring time in the Sacramento valley means its time to break out the Striper gear and hit the rivers for the Striped bass run.  Striped bass primarily spawn in the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Feather Rivers each spring when flows are traditionally higher due to the spring runoff in the region. Female Striped bass release their eggs into the upper water column of the turbid river flows where they are fertilized by the massive presence of male Stripers that have been waiting in the rivers for the females to arrive.  Once fertilized, the Striper eggs will quickly grow into tiny Stripers on their way down river where they will eventually end up in the California Delta where they will typically reside and grow into self sufficiency.  Many of these Stripers will make annual migrations out into the near shore salt water regions and some will reside all year in the brackish waters of the delta.

Every spring these Striped bass will migrate from their respective feeding grounds and make their way into the aforementioned rivers to spawn.  This event and time of year creates a world class fishery for the Striped bass species that attracts tens of thousands of anglers to the region.  Not only are the Striped bass numbers simply stunning, its the nature of these fish that has created such an exceptional fishing experience for so many anglers who pursue them.  The Striped bass continue to feed through most of their spawning cycle making them very easy to catch.

Striped bass are known for their savage bite and are some of the hardest fighting sport fish we have here in northern California.  And if thats not enough to peak your interest, many anglers say Stripers are one of the finest eating fish available for catch.  Famous for their contribution to the fish taco, Striped bass will most certainly remain near the top of the list for the spring season table fare.  Its important to note that Striped bass taste the best as younger fish and as this species grows into double digit weight, their table fare is significantly diminished.  For that reason, it is an accepted practice to release the larger specimens so that they may spawn and create future generations of Striped bass, and to only harvest smaller "keeper" bass (larger than 18") that not only taste better, but have a smaller impact on the reproduction cycle.

There are many locations to pursue Stripers during the spring season.  Typically this fishery begins in the California Delta in late March when the Stripers migrate in from the bays and coastal ocean waters to begin their spawning run.  After residing in a salt water environment, Stripers will acclimate themselves to fresh water before making their run up river.  This makes targeting them in the delta a great place to start the spring season.  As river flows vary from year to year, so will the Striper migration.  This year brings unprecedented amounts of river water for the Stripers to use as spawning grounds this season.  We have seen massive numbers of Stripers in the Sacramento River up to Butte City and in the Feather River below Gridley.  The San Joaquin River in the California delta has also been a very good body of water to find Stripers as well.

Catching these Stripers begins with locating them and the next step is to find a technique to get them to bite.  In the lower delta region, trolling shallow and deep diving plugs is a very effective way to catch Stripers.  Techniques vary, but one of the most popular diving plugs to catch Stripers with is the Yo-Zuri shallow and deep diving plugs.  Anglers also use PLine Predator and Angry Eye divers, Rattle traps, and other mug's of diving plugs.  While diving plugs can also be used up river, drifting live golden shiner minnows is hands down the most effective way to catch lots of Stripers.  Anglers have also had success throwing swim baits, and using baits such as sardines and pile worms while sitting on anchor.  They all work and I think it really just comes down to your personal preference and in some cases your budget.

I have primarily concentrated my efforts on the San Joaquin side of the delta and most recently on the Feather River near Yuba City.  Its been a great season already and finding limits of Stripers is not too much to ask for right now.  We still have a lot of water available for the Stripers and its likely the good fishing will continue into the month of June.  I will be fishing for Stripers until mid May and still have some available dates for guided trips.  If you are interested in experiencing this world class fishery on a guided trip or would just like to get more information about this fishery, give me a call and I would be happy to talk about a trip or just some technical tips for catching them on your own.

Jeff Goodwin is a full time Northern California fishing guide.  He guides year round for salmon, trout, steelhead, Kokanee, and bass on Northern California rivers and lakes. He fishes many bodies of water in the Redding area, but also guides the Sacramento River and Feather River during certain times of the year. Jeff can also be found on the California coast chasing ocean fresh King salmon and steelhead each year. To learn more about the fishing trips Jeff has to offer, please visit Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service.  You can also find him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or please feel free to call him anytime at (707) 616-1905.

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