By: Scott Feist
Most years the striper season on the Sacramento River has just about ended. Fortunately, that’s not the case this year. High water has enabled fishing to remain strong and the good news is there’s new batches of stripers still arriving, which means action won’t taper off anytime soon. It’s been a great year for striped bass in the Sacramento Valley. I’m expecting it to roll through June this year. It might even go past the 4th of July.
We can thank the abnormally wet winter we’ve had in Northern California for the extended run. Here’s the quick version of why the run is lasting so long. Higher flows keep the water temperatures cooler and the cooler the water in the Sacramento River (and the Feather River) the longer the stripers will stay in the river. The high and cold water holds them in the river. Otherwise, these fish would have spawned and returned to the ocean already. In the mornings the water on the Sac is still in the low sixties. That’s good for fishing.
Striped bass are from the Delta to Red Bluff right now. There’s striped bass being caught in every boat ramp on that entire stretch, which is amazing. There’s more striped bass in the river this year than since 2011, which is the last year we had a solid, long fishery in the rivers. Striped bass enter the river every year. However, most years they migrate up, spawn and leave in a hurry. This year they are sticking around.
The bite has been epic. I guarantee we caught 100 stripers today and that’s doesn’t surprise me because it’s been that good most days. Things have changed since we started using Fire Dye golden shiners. The Fire Dye minnows have made my job that much easier because the stripers are seeing them better in the high and murky water and more important is they are eating them. It’s not coincidental how many fish I’m catching. Yes, there’s a lot of fish in the river, but I’ve tried to fish regular golden shiners vs Fire Dye golden shiners and there’s no comparison. We catch way more fish on the chartreuse shiners.
And, I’ve told you guys this before, but I’m not telling you this because I’m a Pautzke pro staffer. Using Fire Dye on my shiners causes me an extra 30 minutes of work per day to complete the process. If it weren’t making a huge difference in my catch rates I wouldn’t do it. I need my sleep. I get up at 3am everyday to guide. To recap, here’s how we Fire Dye our shiners.
The entire system has striped bass. Some areas have larger concentrations than others. With that being said you can launch on any boat ramp from Verona to Red Bluff and catch stripers now on the Sacrament River, and the Feather has them, too. This pattern is going to continue at least for a few more weeks. I don’t see them dropping flows anytime soon. We have a lot of snowmelt still. This high water is going to keep a good vibe through salmon season.