By: Scott Feist
It’s no secret there’s a ton of water in the Sacramento Valley on the Feather and Sacramento River, but don’t let that discourage you. There are also more stripers than we’ve had in years and that high water is going to keep them around longer than we’re used to having them. The massive amount of water is going to make this one of the best striper seasons we’ve had in the valley since 2011. We’ve had several days where we’ve run two trips a day and caught more than 50 fish on each trip.
The striper season has been nothing but spectacular since early April. Fishing was good before then, but I was down in the Delta fishing still. We are still in mid to low 50-degree water. I don’t expect these stripers to even attempt to spawn until we get to 61 degrees and warmer. I don’t expect that to happen for a while. With that said these fish are in the system, they are comfortable and they are eating. It’s been solid action.
I think this run could go into July, if not further. With the water temperatures so cold it postpones the spawn. This allows more fish to entire the system and increases the inventory of fish that are in the system now. Frankly, the Sacramento and Feather are loaded with stripers right now. These fish range three to 10 pounds, but there’s fish up to 50 pounds in the system. Our average fish runs about five pounds. The normal is about 18-27 inches.
There’s a lot of big water around and it’s going to remain this way. It’s changed the way we fish for stripers. Because of high water we are limited to some of the areas we want to fish, but it’s created new areas we are fishing now that weren’t accessible before the rain and high water releases. Shasta and Oroville might still be at flood stage, but with the releases it’s bringing large amounts of striped bass into the valley. Another change is using more weight than in previous years due to the higher flows.
For us this is a live bait jig. When I’m in the Delta I’m trolling and using live bait. However, in the Feather and Sac I prefer to use live bait. I started the season with jumbo golden shiners. However, as soon as my samples of the new Pautzke Fire Dye arrived I’ve switched over to Chartreuse Fire Dye shiners and have been using them daily. With the dirty and stained water we have right now the chartreuse baits, and its UV properties, is dramatically increasing our bites.
The fishing had been so good at first it was hard to determine if the dyed minnow vs the non-dyed minnow made a difference, but at this point I’m sold that it does. We can credit that to the cold front and wind we had the last few days. It gave me the upper hand having the chartreuse minnows. I’m not going through two bottles of the dye a day. (I’m lucky I’m a pro staffer and don’t have to pay for this!).