Fall 2016 Delta Fishing Report

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October 34,, 2016

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract, Middle River

Water temp: 62-4

Visibility: 6 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good. It's dink city but at least the fish are becoming more plentiful. Patience and a little luck will reward the persistent fly fisher with a fish over three pounds but it's a matter of putting in the time and sorting through the dinks with the hope of catching something bigger.

The fish are not everywhere and it's best to move until you find a school and then try to stay on it and work it until the grabs drop off. The areas along the rock walls and around the berms produce fish during the moving water but it's best to fish the flats at tide change.

I'm finding fish from the Antioch bridge up to Middle /River on the San Joaquin and throughout the inner delta as well. Lots of rain predicted this week but it looks fishable even if a little wet.
Stripers - topwater. The fish have started coming up with the low light conditions in the mornings and the increased cloud cover. However, it's still low percentage fishing compared to fishing with a Clouser and sinking lines. However, the initial grab by even a medium sized striper is a heart stopper and worth the effort. Fishing a gurgler, a crease fly or a commercial fly with a steady pull, tip down and  a strip strike will stick fish.

Stripers subsurface. Chartreuse Clouser, short  20# leader, T-14 sinking line, a series of quick strips mixed with pauses.. When done properly over fish you will hook up.
October 17,, 2016

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract, Middle River

Water temp: 64

Visibility: 6 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good. The storm that came through slowed the fishing and the high winds didn't help the fishermen but the fish were still willing in most cases, if small. Everyone keeps waiting for the bigger fish to arrive and it's getting later and later in the season. Some of the bait fishermen are picking up double digit fish on a regular basis and, sadly, most are ending up in their coolers. Stripers - topwater. working the walls early in the morning produces stripers to three pounds but most are small juveniles mixed with a few largemouth. Start at first light and fish until the sun climbs high enough to show the rocky bottom.

Stripers - subsurface. The fish are where you rind them. Try the side channels, the flats, the walls, keep moving until you find a school and work it. The schools contain fish of all sizes from small six inchers up to fish 20 inches and larger.
October 10,, 2016

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract, Middle River

Water temp: 66

Visibility: 5 feet
Stripers Fishing is good. Lots of fish, few of them over 18 inches. Where are they? The water temperature is down, the sea lions are here, there's lots of bait, but the big stripers are not here in any numbers great enough to talk about. Right now, a big fish is something over five pounds. The smaller fish are scattered throughout the delta and can be found in all the major sloughs and tracts but, again, anything of size is rare. As usual, even with the smaller fish, the bite shuts down on the tide changes and the major tides produce greater activity than the minor tides. Mornings fish better than mid day. Stripers -topwater. Some smaller fish are coming up in low light conditions when fishing shallow water over weed beds. While not the big fish we're all looking for, they're still fun to catch. A white gurgler or crease fly, Pole Dancer or other light colored topwater fly in 2/0 will bring some strikes if stripped at medium speed continuously across the water. Long casts, good strips, rod tip down and pointed right at the fly, along with a strip set will bring fish to the boat.

Stripers - subsurface. Fish the usual flats and runs, current intersections  and shallow points. If no grabs after 15 minutes, move and keep moving until you find fish. A rapid sinking line, long casts, count downs to close to the bottom and the "striper strip," will produce fish.
October 3,, 2016

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract, Middle River

Water temp: 66

Visibility: 5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good. Finally... some larger fish have moved in. Not so many that you can count on catching a five pound or larger fish on every outing but the chances are much improved. The falling water temperatures and a lot of bait are bringing the fish in. The next eight weeks should be the best of the season. Juvenile stripers are plentiful even if not in large schools while three year olds can give a good tug on the line even if they can't put a fly fisher on the spool. Fish can be found in shallow water, especially at intersections and current seams. Topwater action is increasing both mornings and evenings. Stripers - topwater. The sun's moving south has really expanded the chances of bringing a fish up for topwater action. Work any water six feet or less, especially in low light conditions. Mornings have finally shown some promise while evening action has been more reliable. Gurglers, crease flies and the commercial Pole Dancers all work.

Stripers - subsurface. Fish have been found at numerous locations, from just above the Antioch Bridge up the San Joaquin to Middle River. Any water sixteen feet or shallower should be targeted, especially the thinly weeded areas.
September 26,, 2016

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract, Middle River

Water temp: 70

Visibility: 5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is fair. The juvenile bite continues but larger fish are still very hard to find. Anything over 20 inches is a bonus. The good thing is that with the continued warm water, any fish 22 inches or better is likely to put you on the reel. The fish are spread pretty evenly from the Antioch Bridge all the way to Middle River on the San Joaquin and throughout False River. A weather change is coming this weekend and perhaps, some chilling of the water and greater cloud cover will start moving the bigger fish up delta in numbers. Stripers - topwater. Mornings have not been productive but reports of some evening action justifies an effort if you're on the water. Fish water less than five feed deep with white gurglers, crease flies or the commercially made Pole Dancer in medium size. Long casts and a constant strip with a strip set will bring in fish.

Stripers- subsurface. The fish are scattered with multiple year classes found in the same water. Use a fast sinking line with the traditional chartreuse over white clouser in 2/0. Fish the fly in water to 16 feet. with the fly retrieved a few feet off the bottom. A series of quick strips along with a mixture of pauses, the "striper strip" is necessary for consistent grabs.
September 19,, 2016

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract

Water temp: 70

Visibility: 5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is fair. Decent numbers of juveniles are throughout the delta but larger fish are rare. The schools of smaller fish are moving quickly through the rivers and sloughs, working bait both subsurface and topwater throughout the day. Stripers - topwater. Most of the fish picked up are small or just sublegal with a few fish in the 18-20 inch class. Fish at first light or any fish you see working a boil throughout the day. White clousers or crease flies work well.

Stripers - subsurface. Look for current seams on both the incoming and outgoing tides in water 15 feed deep and less. Work those areas with smaller clousers in pink/white or chartreuse/white on fast sinking lines such as T-14.
September 12,, 2016

San Joaquin, Frank's Tract, False River

Water temp: 70

Visibility: 5 feet
I took the last four days of the week off to fish Heenan Lake so the report deals only with the first three days of the week.

Stripers-fishing is fair.
The reports of bigger fish have slowed considerably. Lots of smaller fish throughout the river but not much in the way of fish over seven pounds reported. The evening topwater bite along the rock walls is slowing.
Stripers - topwater. The morning action has been limited to very low light with the bite shutting off early. Occasional boils by smaller fish throughout the day. The evening bite along the wall has fallen off considerably. White gurglers in low light and crease flies during the brighter periods work.

Stripers - subsurface. Smaller clousers in pink/white or chartreuse/white fished on a quick sinking line will bring on strikes by smaller stripers. Some larger fish to seven pounds are being found among the juveniles.
September 5,, 2016

San Joaquin, Potato Slough, False River

Water temp: 70

Visibility: 8-10 feet
Stripers - Some bigger fish are finally here in numbers. We've picked up fish from five to seven pounds and have reports from others that decent fish are in the system in numbers large enough to make a trip to the delta worth while.

That doesn't mean that your going to land a ten pound fish for sure but the chances have greatly improved in the last week. Another encouraging thing is that there seems to be a lot of bait available. Juvenile stripers can be seen at all times of the day, working the surface for smaller baitfish. Casting to these guys can sometimes produce a surprise, with fish of ten pounds or more suddenly grabbing your fly.

The largemouth are back on the feed, trying to stuff themselves before the start of winter. Working a wall with a gurgler morning or evening in conjunction with a decent high tide to keep your fly clear of the weeds should produce a good number of strikes. You can scale down to a five weight to do this work but beware, you might hook up with a 15 to 20 pound striper and be completely outgunned.

The short version of this week's report is, GET OUT THERE!!!! THE FALL FISHING HAS STARTED IN EARNEST. IT'S TIME!!!
Stripers - topwater. The early bird gets the worm and the early fly fisher gets some good shots at topwater stripers. The action starts before sunrise an lasts for a couple of fun filled hours. Look for working birds and you'll probably find hungry stripers below, ripping bait on the surface. Use a smaller gurgler, all white or all white with a red throat. If no gurgler, try a smaller crease fly. Use a steady long strip and a strip set to hook the fish. Don't lift the rod tip until you feel the weight of the fish.

Stripers - Subsurface. With all the topwater action, blind casting a T 14 sinking line tends to be not near as exciting until you hook a bigger fish The prescription for success continues to be a chartreuse over white 2/0 clouser fished on a 4 foot 20 pound leader hooked to an express line like a Rio T-14 In Touch custom cut. Use a series of quick strips with an extended pause now and then. Fish with confidence, You will get rewarded.

LMB- topwater
, Whatever slowed the fishing for the past two weeks has seemed to move on. Working the rock walls on periods when there is some decent high tide will bring on scores of hits,
Work shallow water with a white gurgler in the early mornings or late afternoons and you'll get scores of hits from fish six to sixteen inches in length. And a bonus is that you may pick up a te pound plus striper while doing so.
August 29, 2016

San Joaquin, Potato Slough, False River

Water temp: 68

Visibility: 4-5 feet
Stripers - fishing continues to be spotty. Not enough larger fish have moved into the system to rate the fishery as good although if one doesn't mind catching dinks up to 20 inches, 25 to 30 fish days per rod is a chinch.

LMB - unpredictable. Some days are diamonds, some days are stones and it's hard to judge in advance what you might find. Otherwise perfect conditions might yield few fish while days where you think you will be challenged turn out to be outstanding. An increasing number of striped bass is a welcome bycatch for most, even if they are from six to 29 inches.
Stripers - topwater. Most of the action is still against the walls morning and evenings with occasional boils mid day. Casting for larger fish around the tule islands and in shallow water has not started in ernest.

Stripers - subsurface. If you're not finding fish, cover more water, and more water and more water... Fish of mixed sizes up to 22 inches in schools seems to be the norm. Again, quick sinking line, clouser and erratic strip.

LMB - topwater. Try a white gurgler in 1/0 against the rocks. Strip out to the weed line and wait at least ten seconds before picking up for your next cast. Give it a twitch before picking up.
August 22, 2016 No Report - I took my seven year old grandson camping this week. All by myself. Five days with a seven year old. And it was fun.
August 15, 2016

San Joaquin, Potato Slough, False River

Water temp: 70

Visibility: 4-5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is spotty. Some larger fish are in the system but are not common. Most fish caught are in the 6 to 14 inch range with one or two 20 inchers per outing. Wind is a problem most days, especially in the afternoons.

LMB - Fishing is fair to good. Even on the days with relatively high water over the weeds along the bank, fishing is unpredictable. Some days the fish are ravenous, other days, it's hard to bring up even a few strikes, An almost equal number of small stripers is common when casting topwater.
Stripers - topwater. Juvenile stripers are boiling, even during mid day. Look for birds, especially terns working over a piece of water. Work the walls mornings and evenings for stripers up to 20 inches.

Stripers - subsurface. The chartreuse over white clouser in 1/0 and 2/0 is the ticket, fished on a fast sinking line and stripped in with an erratic quick strip.
August 8, 2016

San Joaquin, Potato Slough, False River

Water temp: 72

Visibility: 4-5 feet
Stripers- fishing is just getting started. Lots of dinks have moved in and can be found throughout the main river and around the edges of Frank's Tract. The fish are eager and willingly take small flies on both the incoming and outgoing tides. You can sort through the dinks and find a few barely legal fish but be careful in releasing the little guys. After all, each one has the potential of growing to a 40 pounder.

LMB- Fishing is good. It appears we're in the summer doldrums. The fish are still hitting but not with the frequency or violence of a few weeks ago. Things should pick up soon as the water cools and the fish become more active. Late August to mid September is when, on a good evening, 60 fish per rod is possible with a mixture of LMB and stripers, some of the stripers big enough to put a fly fisher on the reel.
Stripers-topwater. Look for working boils and toss a small white gurgler into the mix. It should be good for an almost instant hook up.

Stripers - subsurface. Look along the rock walls on the main river and areas around Franks. Once you're on the fish, use a chartreuse over white clouser.

LMB-topwater. Work close to the rocks along the walls on high water for grabs. Gurglers, flip-flop poppers, hair poppers, crease flies all work.
July 29, 2016

San Joaquin River, East Delta Sloughs

Water temp: 74

Visibility: 4 feet
LMB - Fishing is excellent
Largemouth from six to less than a pound are scattered throughout the delta. Almost any wall will produce from 25 to 30 fish per rod on a good day's fishing. Plan your trip so that you are fishing around the time of a high tide. It really doesn't matter whether it is an incoming or an outgoing, as long as the water is high enough over the heavy weeds of summer to allow you to cast to the shore and retrieve without the fly totally fouling in weeds and algae.

You'll want to be on the water just before daybreak and fish for the first three hours of the day, or arrive late in the afternoon and fish until dark. While the evenings fish slightly better and you have a longer fishing day, the summer winds can be a problem.

This fall is my last four months of guiding. I'm hanging it up on the last day of November. I'd love to fish with all of my past clients at least one more time around. I hope you all feel the same about me.
Topwater - The best time to fish topwater is during a high tide phase. The fish move into the troughs between the rocks and the weeds and over the weeds themselves. Cast within inches of the shore, expect a grab at any time. If no action, use short strips to bring the popper out to the inner weed line. Stop and wait for a few seconds and then chug the popper to the outer edge of the weed line. Wait again until the boat motion starts dragging the popper making a wake.

Gurglers, crease flies, pole dancers, hair poppers and my own flip-flop poppers all bring non stop action when the bite is on.

Subsurface - The fast growing delta weeds make subsurface fishing tough during anything other than a high tide. Fish an intermediate line with weightless fly such as a Puglisi or a large woolly bugger or leech. Work the fly as deep as you can without ending up in the weeds.