The fall striped bass run continues to filter into the lower estuary from Broad Slough to Decker Island, with catch rates depending squarely on the wind. The king salmon run sputters intermittently, from good action at Willow Grove and Garcia Bend on Thursday and Friday, to practically zilch on Monday.
There are chances to hook fish this week, no doubt. But a better bet is to attend the free fishing seminar that runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Isleton, put on by the California Striped Bass Association's Isleton-Delta Chapter. Presentations by expert anglers will provide the knowledge to hook striped bass, sturgeon and salmon by various methods - jigging, bait casting and trolling - and the locations and types of tides needed to be successful.
The seminar is scheduled just ahead of the 66th annual Rio Vista Bass Derby on Oct. 11-13.
The seminar location will be on the banks of the Old Sacramento River behind Pete's Steakhouse in Isleton, where a municipal launch ramp used to exist. Participants will find a large seminar tent, plenty of booths, a noon fish fry and a raffle put on by CSBA volunteers. Information: (916) 777-6498.
Striped bass bite deep-diving and shallow-running lures at the changes of the tide, occasionally weighing 12 pounds, but averaging more like 4 to 6 pounds. This has been a windy summer and the stiff breezes often spell the difference between catching and a rough boat ride, especially below Rio Vista.
Salmon mania seems to attract most angler interest, drawing a huge flotilla in the deep channel at the mouth of the Old Sacramento River. The boats tend to jig or pull spinners such as Silvertron, Blue Fox and Uncle Larry's, with varying degrees of success.
"It's typical river salmon fishing," said Barry Canevaro of Fish Hookers Sportfishing in Isleton. "You've got to put in plenty of time and stick with it until you find a school of salmon. Most days you'll catch nothing. On rare occasions, it seems like most every boat is hooking up."
Mike Faught at The Fisherman's Friend in Lodi confirmed some "very good" salmon fishing at Willow Grove near the locks at Walnut Grove, and upriver at Garcia Bend in south Sacramento.
Said Faught: "The action was real good Thursday and Friday."
By Monday, the bite was near zero. At Garcia Bend, more than 100 boats were counted from Freeport to the yacht club near Scott's Seafood, and only three salmon were seen being caught. And those fish were small, about 10 pounds and bronze in appearance. The water temperature in that reach has dropped to 64.5 degrees.
Anglers anticipate salmon fishing to break open in the Mokelumne River, but a lack of flows and water that is too warm to attract fish continues to be a problem. An 18-pound salmon was claimed on a jigging spoon on Monday near Interstate 5. Others were hooked, and mostly lost, by boaters who ran from spot to spot and casted spinners, Faught said.
On the San Joaquin River side, striped bass - mostly schoolies - are hooked on bait and by trollers from Three Mile Slough to the mouth of the Mokelumne River, at False River and along the deep water channel from Light 51 to Light 31. Drifting with live bluegill probably is the most productive method.
Farther west, shad and bullheads entice stripers at Light 31 at Pittsburg and throughout Montezuma Slough, from the mouth to Suisun City.
Largemouth bass enthusiasts flooded Frank's Tract and Mildred Island, Little Venice Island and weed lines along Potato Slough and Columbia Cut heading toward Five Fingers. Jigs and plastics produce best, but tossing reaction lures such as Rat-L Trap and Bomber also entice strikes. Bass weigh 1 to 3 pounds, a few larger.
Ocean - Rough seas have quelled albacore fishing, but the popular tuna that weigh up to 36 pounds are holding steady about 13 miles outside the North Farallon Islands and points south such as the 601 marker. It's a matter of getting to them. Call ahead.
Salmon fishing is spotty with boats taking less than a fish per rod to the unusually good catch on Monday, when the New Ray Ann out of Sausalito boated 17 kings to 26 pounds for 11 anglers who fished southwest of the Golden Gate. Autumn salmon fishing always is about quality, not quantity.
Rock cod fishing is solid from Monterey to Bodega Bay. On Nov. 1, recreational Dungeness crab season opens and many charters will offer rockfish-crab combination trips.
The six-passenger Argo is trying unusual combination trips such as salmon-shark, striped bass-halibut and all of the above with rockfish, reported skipper Craig Hanson.
San Pablo Bay - Excellent tides for salmon and halibut start Thursday. Try California City at the top of the tide for salmon and Red Rock, Paradise and Alcatraz on the other times for halibut. Drifting with live shiners or anchovies also can yield leopard sharks - a 50-pounder was claimed recently - as a bonus when trying for halibut. Striped bass, sub-legal to 4 pounds, seem to congregate with greater frequency at the Marin Islands and Paradise Quay for those who troll with 3/8-ounce worm-tailed jigs.
American - Salmon action is from the mouth at Discovery Park to Cal Expo, but the take is weak. Best in the early morning.
Feather - Preparing for steelhead, 18 to 22 inches, to congregate and follow the spawning salmon. Some steelies go 10 pounds, according to Keith Kaneko of Angling on the Fly. Salmon fishing pokes along, rated decent to poor from Verona to Shanghai Bend.
Klamath - The sand bar at the mouth retards the run, but heavy rains last week can only help a record-breaking run to move into the Klamath-Trinity system. Salmon are spread all the way to Happy Camp and perhaps, farther. Egg grabbing steelhead are in hot pursuit. It's a good time to try.
Sacramento - Very good salmon fishing at Butte City, but Hamilton City and Woodson Bridge turned slow this week. Who knows why? Kings are starting to stack up at the Barge Hole near Anderson and the Canyon above Red Bluff, as the run builds. Seems like Kwikfish and Flatfish with a sardine wrap work best at first light, while roe is the ticket later in the day.
Alpine - Cooling and dropping fast. Call ahead to check status of the launch ramp. Alpine County stocked the impoundment with some quality rainbows recently.
Caples - Known as "Twin Lakes" by old-timers, Caples and Silver are yielding rainbows to 13 inches for trollers, a fact given the tremendous number of anglers trying the impoundments on weekends.
Don Pedro - Trollers find increased numbers of 16- to 18-inch rainbows as autumn kicks in. Jenkins Hill is a good place to start.
Heenan - Set off Monitor Pass, this impoundment is home to Lathontan cutthroat trout broodstock. Anglers are allowed to fish for them Friday to Sunday through October. Artificials only. Boats with motors are not allowed. Check the regulations before fishing. Cutthroat to 26 inches are available.
Los Vaqueros - Up to more than 130,000 acre-feet, the most water ever held at the impoundment. Striped bass fishing is fair and improving for shoreline anglers. Expect the first load of trout to be planted soon. Call ahead.
New Melones - Two trophy largemouth bass, 9.3 and 10 pounds, were hooked and released recently, a good sign the lake is cooling. The monster bass inhaled a watermelon/black Senko and 1/2-ounce jig. Trout fishing is only fair, at best, and kokanee are in the final stages of life, moving upriver to spawn. Channel catfish are active and large, 13 to 15 pounds, for anglers who target them.
Pardee - Almost full and clear. Kokanee still are viable, 90 to 120 feet deep, on the upper end of the river arm. Trout are scattered. Some find them trolling about 40 feet deep and others anchor and toss bait.