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November 30, 2015    Headlines

 Delta Sripers and Sturgeon

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley

The striped bass bite in the upper Delta near Liberty Island has been ranging from very good to a struggle, and it was a tough bite on Sunday with the water temperatures plunging to 44 degrees in some areas. Sturgeon are also having to adjust to the quick drop in temperatures, and although the sturgeon are stacked up on the bottom in the deeper waters, they have been less willing to bite with the sudden plunge in water temperature. The action should be back on as soon as the fish adjust to the new conditions, and the coming storm should bring out some biting fish.
Up near Liberty Island in the north Delta, J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing reports on Sunday 11-29, “We had three blow ups on topwater lures, but we never found a concentration of stripers as the water temperature ranged between 44 and 48 degrees. The water was clear depending upon where you were with the clearest water at the bottom of the tide. We struggled for a few keepers to 10 pounds along with a few shakers, and Mike Hooper of Sacramento landed the big fish on a swimbait. Although we didn’t find a concentration of fish, I had reports of up to 20 stripers in the same area the previous day.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “The Deep Water Channel is still holding a number of striped bass, and Liberty Island, Steamboat Slough, and Miner Slough remain productive areas with live mudsuckers or trolling with shallow lures. The grass is thick in some areas, making for difficult trolling conditions.”  Tran touted sturgeon fishing at the mouth of Prospect Slough at Cache Slough, Courtland, and Clarksburg with eel/nightcrawler combinations or straight pile worms, and he landed a 60-inch legal sturgeon on an eel/nightcrawler combination soaked in Sturgeon Frenzy at the mouth of Prospect. A few salmon continue to move through the system, and Tran said, “A few salmon are being taken on jigs below the Freeport Bridge. Some are dark and some are clean. A 31 pounder was landed on Saturday below the bridge.”
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported a solid crappie bite in the clear water in the north Delta with live minnows or minijigs. He said, “There are some real slabs up there.” He confirmed Richey’s assertion that the striper bite has been up and down in the Liberty area with linesides to 28 pounds landed on big glide baits on Thanksgiving Day.
In lower Suisun Bay near Benicia, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported an 8-pound salmon was landed inside the Benicia Marina on Saturday on a Rat-L-Trap, stating, “These fish have been inside of the marina for a couple of days, but they are getting pretty dark.”
Cold water created challenging conditions for sturgeon fishermen, and Andy Doudna of Oakley said, “The water temperatures are on the move downward, and the fish seem to be adjusting as the bite improved through the weekend as the temperatures stabilized. Eel and salmon roe seem to be the ticket as shrimpbaits are very hard to come by. I heard of sturgeon being landed at the Mothball Fleet, the slough, and in deep water near Pittsburg, and I spend an afternoon in the shallows in Honker Bay for one 42-inch keeper on Saturday. I expect to see the number of sturgeon landed this week increasing as the tide improve and the fish adjust to the temperature.”
Rio Vista Bait and Tackle reported sturgeon fishing has been best around the Sherman Island Power Lines, Pittsburg, and Martinez, but there have also been sturgeon taken above the Rio Vista Bridge near the Ryer Island Ferry.
Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing was anchored above Chain Island on Sunday, and they caught and released a shaker sturgeon on fresh shad within 20 minutes of setting anchor. He said, “We marked a ton of fish on the screen, but we were limited to 6 to 8 shaker bass in addition to the undersized sturgeon. The water temperature had dropped 4 degrees in the past few days.”|
Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing said, “We have been averaging at least an oversized or keeper each sturgeon trip, and we released an oversized along with a 54-inch keeper in deep water on salmon roe. I have been finding my best action on roe, but once the fresh water starts to flow into the river, we will put out more eel.” Lopes has been alternating sturgeon trips with striped bass outings into the north Delta, and he confirmed the recent slowdown up north, stating, “We had been crushing them until last week using live mudsuckers, but the bite slowed down after Friday’s big north wind.” He thought the sturgeon bite would take off once the fish adjust to the water temperature.
In the Pittsburg area, Do Doung of Dockside Bait reported three keeper sturgeon between 44 and 58 inches were brought into the shop on Saturday with the best action near Buoy 34, the Pittsburg PGE Plant, and Collinsvilee with salmon roe or eel. He said, “Ghost shrimp has been tough to get, and grass shrimp has been next to impossible.” Stripers in the 6 to 8-opund range are taken on live mudsuckers or frozen shad, leading Doung to state, “The bite is getting better and better.” 
The water hyacinth in the Stockton area is starting to curl up and show some shades of brown from the recent cold spell, but it hasn’t been cold enough despite Sunday’s record 25-degree low temperature to kill off the heavy hyacinth growth. Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton said, “It’s still more green than brown out there on the San Joaquin; however, there have been some clearer areas in the east and south Delta. Stripers in the 5 to 6-pound range have been taken off of Eight Mile Road at King Island with live bluegill or jumbo minnows and there is a great abundance of bluegill and shiner minnows in the area. Anglers are picking up the bluegill on red worms or wax worms and using the bluegill for stripers.” He added that the Bacon Island Road side of Whiskey Slough has cleared up, and stripers in the 22 to 24-inch have been taken in the area on mudsuckers or shad along with largemouth bass on red worms under a bobber. H and R received fresh shad in the total amount of 35 pounds over the holiday weekend for the first fresh shad in weeks, but it is of a smaller grade.
The launch ramps in the Stockton metropolitan area remain closed due to hyacinth, but Paradise Point Marina off of Eight Mile Road west of Stockton has remained operational.

There have been some huge striped bass caught and released in the south Delta including the 27 pounder released by Shawn Hill of Manteca near the Tracy Oasis and an estimated 30+ pounder by Ernie Marlan of Mixed Bag Sport Fishing on a Savage Gear Glide Bait. 
Marlan said, 
I was fishing in 6 feet of water when I hooked this beauty on a Savage Gear Glide Bait near some structure in the river. Almost immediately the fish took me under the structure and I was wrapped around it as the fish continued down river. After several minutes I was able to get it unwrapped and the fight was on! Big fish are smart and this one was no exception. It decided to turn around and make another run for the structure and wrap me around it again. Stuck for a second time I thought my luck had run out and the fish had won and I would only have a story about the one that got away! Fortunately the 50 lb FINS Braid, 20 lb GAMMA fluorocarbon leader teamed up with a Phenix Rod and Lew's reel held up against the ultimate test. I was able to get the line clear of the structure and the fight continued. From this point it became a more traditional fight with it making a run then me gaining some ground only for it to make another run. The story ended perfectly! The fish only had to pose for a couple of pictures and then she was released back into the river! I hope to meet her again!”

From Round and About:
Money has a way of allowing you to approach a problem from many options, and the deep pockets of the agribusiness world and the municipal water district south of the Tehachapis exceeded themselves this week when it was discovered that the Westlands Water District and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District are in negotiations to purchase a total of four islands in the Delta. If you can’t pay enough money to sue to keep the pumps going, lobby politicians to ‘see things your way,’ fund advertising to convince the general public that the twin tunnels are the way to go – and besides, you are paying for it – you might as well just go ahead and buy out the Delta to eliminate the competition. Another example of approaching the problem from all angles fueled by money is in the resolution of the lawsuit filed by the front-group, the ‘Coalition for a Sustainable Delta’ as presented in the article from Alex Breitler of the Stockton Record. The City of Stockton has settled the suit from the front group from the south valley regarding storm water treatment from the city into the Delta. Follow the money, I say. How does a group of small independent water districts in Kern County have the funds to sue multiple agencies on a myriad of issues including striped bass predation, storm water in Stockton, and sewer plant discharges in Sacramento?
As I state in the article, I am sure that there are measures that can be taken to improve storm water discharge, but correlating the discharge to the cause of the pelagic decline in the Delta is a diversion tactic at its best. I grew up in Stockton, and the piles of leaves and debris piled in the streets until the mid-90’s were massive throughout the city before the green cans were enforced. In addition, people routinely allowed their vehicles to leak oil and changed oil in the driveway or in the street at the time – all devastating practices for storm water cleanliness. Even with all of this, the pelagic decline of the Delta did not occur. The decline correlates with the massive increase of pumping starting in 2000. Money does open all options to solve a problem in your favor. We can’t allow this to happen.
Dave Hurley


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