Fall 2013/Spring 2014 Delta Fishing Report

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March 31, 2014

San Joaquin, Little Connection Slough, Little Potato Slough, Middle River, Old River Mildred Island, Columbia Cut, Whiskey Slough

Water Temp:59

Water Clarity: 3-4 feet
Stripers- Fishing is good. Larger fish, from 2 to 8 pounds have shown up in numbers if not in schools. The fish are scattered and you have to cover a lot of water to find them in small groups of two and three fish.

Dinks are around as well and sometimes mixed with the larger fish.

The recent rains seem to have done the trick.

Note: My boat is out of service for at least two, possibly four weeks, depending on the engine work necessary.
Topwater - I don't know why but the fish are just NOT hitting on top. This time of year is usually very productive but nothing seems to be happening in this area although I give it a shot every day out.

Subsurface - Larger (4 inch) chartreuse over white clousers are the go to fly. Smaller flies just not as productive. Fish the flies close to the bottom. 8-12 feet water seems to hold the most fish.
March 17, 2014

San Joaquin, Little Connection, Columbia Cut, Middle River, Old River, Holland Cut, Franks Tract, False River.

Water temp: 59

Visibility: 3 feet
Stripers - Fishing is fair. Not much change from last week with the exception of more wind. The schools of small stripers are not very large and larger fish are hard to find. The fish are scattered throughout the delta from the main channels into the smallest sloughs.

Keep moving until you find fish and then work the water. Fish of different year classes are mixed together and you might find a bigger fish among the smallies.

Wind has been a problem. Check the wind forecasts before heading out.
Topwater - No topwater action yet but I keep on trying.

Subsurface - Smaller clousers in chartreuse over white and gray over white fished with a fast sinking line will produce grabs. Get the line down to the bottom to get the greatest number of strikes.
March 10, 2014

San Joaquin, False River, Little Potato Slough, Little Connection Slough, Sandmound Slough, Holland Cut

Water temp: 59

Visibility: 2-3 feet
Stripers - Fishing is fair. Undersized stripers can be found in small numbers throughout the delta, both in the main San Joaquin and the adjoining sloughs. Some fish up to seven pounds are being reported in the western portion of the delta and the waters around Frank's tract.

This is the spring and winds can be a problem. Check before driving a long ways to the water. Add 3 to 5 miles per hour to any wind reports you hear since the open water makes for increased wind speeds.
Topwater - Only a couple of attempts so far with no takers. Hopefully just a little more heat will bring the pinstripes up to the top.

Subsurface - Work both intermediate and quick sinking lines with a smaller Clouser  with chartreuse over white the preferred colors. No need to slow down the fly, the water is warming and the fish are becoming more active. Don't forget to add those pauses.
October 28, 2013

San Joaquin, False River, Mokelumne, Sandmound Slough, Dutch Slough

Water temp: 62-63

Visibility: 4-5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good to very good. Numbers of legal sized fish have spread out throughout the main channels of the San Joaquin but few are over 5 t0 6 pounds. However, with the water temperatures still in the 60's, the fish are hot and a three pounder can put you on the reel.

Not only are the fish scattered out, they can be found in water from two to 30 feet, well beyond the range of even the fastest sinking line. Look for any sign of fish, surface boils, birds, egrets along the shore, and work the nearby water, even if it seem a little deep. Some schools are suspended and some near the surface, even in 30 feet of water.
Topwater - Key in on seagulls and terns. While fish are working topwater, the bite ends very early. Once the sun is up, the fish go down.
Keep working the same area with an intermediate to pick up a few more fish.
Subsurface - Fish both intermediate and express lines. Two Inch chartreuse over white Clousers are bringing in the fish. Vary your strip from fast to super fast until you are consistently getting strikes.
October 21, 2013 A second needed part caused another week's delay in getting the boat back in the water. I picked it up today. It's back in its berth and I'll be fishing tomorrow. :
October 14, 2013 The boat's been out of service these last two weeks. Faulty tilt switch. Being repaired tomorrow (10/15/13) and will be back in the water Wednesday.  
September 30, 2013

San Joaquin, Mokelumne False Rivers, Sandmound Slough

Water temp: 67-68

Visibility 3-4 feet
Fishing is good. Fish in the five to seven pound range are being caught throughout the main channel areas of the San Joaquin up to Middle River. While the majority of the fish are still juveniles, hooking into a few of these fish each outing makes the trip worth while.

Tides and wind continue to be a major factor influencing the fishing with the fish laying down on both the top and the bottom of the tide. The summer winds are not quite through. Make sure you check wind conditions before making that trip to the delta.
Topwater - The birds and the diaper stripers are working topwater throughout the day. Every so often, a bigger fish is in the bunch and makes the effort worthwhile. Floating line, #20 leader, white gurgler, crease fly  in size 1/0.

Subsurface - Fish water from 3 to 16 feet deep, shelves, flats, rock walls, etc with pink/white or chartreuse over white clousers in smaller sizes, 1/0.
September 23, 2013

San Joaquin, Mokelumne False Rivers, Sandmound Slough

Water temp: 69-70

Visibility 3-4 feet
Fishing is good. Finally, some bigger fish are showing up. Not monsters but big enough to put your on the reel and in enough numbers to keep you interested.

The diaper stripers are little marauders, ripping bait on top throughout the day. Look for birds working. Use a smaller topwater fly since these are one, two and three year olds for the most part.

The tides have been a big part of the bite for the last week. When the water's moving, the fish are hitting. When the water slows, the fish shut down.

The wind continues to be a major concern, sometimes blowing as hard as 25mph. Make sure you check before heading down to the water.
Topwater - As stated in the main column, the smaller fish are workng the topwater. Use a small white gurgler, crease fly, or if you have the cash, the smaller pole dancer. Cast and strip with rod tip in the water. Don't set up on the fish until you feel its weight on the line. Use a strip set, not a rod lift, to hook up.

Subsurface - fish can be found in depths of two to 16 feet, about the limit for fly fishing. Smaller, 2 inch Clousers in pink and white or chartreuse and white bring on strikes when stripped in a series of pauses and multiple strips, worked along close to the bottom. If you're not ticking the bottom or picking up weeds now and again, you're not fishing deep enough.
September 16, 2013

San Joaquin, Mokelumne False Rivers, Sandmound Slough

Water temp: 70-72

Visibility 3-4 feet
Fishing is fair. I'd like to report that larger fish have moved into the delta in numbers but that's just not the case. A few 5-7 pounders are being caught but it's a gamble as to whether you'll find those fish or just lots and lots of dinks.

Winds continue to be a problem, check before going out.
Topwater - The dinks are tearing up the surface, chasing baitfish. Fish a small gurgler or crease fly to hook up time after time. Best action is in the mornings and evenings but surface action can bust out any time during the day. Watch for birds.

Subsurface - Fish are proving themselves to be moody, some days ripping clousers and whistlers and other days, just watching the fly go by. Best action is during the middle of the outgoing and incoming tides. Make sure you're getting to the bottom and vary your strip until you find what works.
September 9, 2013

San Joaquin, Mokelumne False Rivers, Sandmound Slough

Water temp: 72

Visibility 3-4 feet
Fishing is fair. Fishing pretty much the same as last week with the addition of some juvenile top water action.

Fish are responsive during running tides but shut down on tide change.

High water temperatures are probably keeping the larger fish out of the San Joaquin side of the delta.

Wind can be a problem as well as very high afternoon temperatures. Take plenty of water and sun block.
Topwater - Look for working birds. The juveniles are chasing bait to the surface. No big fish showing topwater though. Use a smaller topwater fly if you want to play with these fish for a while.

Subsurface - Use a smaller fly for more takes. Bait fish being chased are about 1 1 1/2 inches long. Chartreuse over white clousers work.
September 2, 2013

San Joaquin, Mokelumne False Rivers, Sandmound Slough

Water temp: 72

Visibility 3-4 feet
Fishing is fair. Lots of one, two and three year fish up to 12-14 inches, very few stripers larger than that around right now.

Stick to the main channels. Fish are taking flies on both the outgoing and incoming tides. Hopefully a drop in delta water temperatures will bring in larger fish.

Typical fall fishing, winds are a problem and it's hard to find places to hide. Work in the lee of levees on the west side of the waterways.
Topwater - Unless you see topwater action, don't bother. While we had some positive results earlier, topwater seems to have shut down for the time being.

Subsurface - Smaller flies and a quick strip will produce lots of strikes by smaller fish. Make sure you fish barbless so that these little guys can be released unharmed to grow into something worth while.
August 28, 2013

San Joaquin, Mokelumne False Rivers, Sandmound Slough

Water temp: 73

Visibility 3-4 feet
Fishing is fair. Wind was a problem all week, nothing but dinks caught. Topwater- Topwater slowed to nothing

Subsurface- Lots of small fish, Use a smaller fly, chartreuse over white clouser works just fine.
August 21, 2013

San Joaquin, Mokelumne Rivers

Water temp:73

Visibility: 3-4 feet
Stripers - Fishing is fair to good. Although early in the season a good number of fish are in the delta. In addition to the ever present juveniles, fish can be found from 5 to 6 pounds on the flats. I haven't had the chance to explore the entire delta but the San Joaquin from the Mokelumne westward is producing.

LMB - Fishing is fair. Topwater fishing in the early morning  and the late evening will bring up a few smaller LMB in the half to two pound class. Larger fish are hard to come by.
Topwater - The juveniles are working the surface along the edges of the tules and berms, chasing small baitfish but it's more difficult to bring up larger fish right now.

Subsurface - Work both intermediate and quick sinking lines in water 4 to 15 feet deep with a white Clouser with a fluorescent pink chenille collar using a fast  strip with additional pauses thrown in. Make sure you're getting down close to the bottom when retrieving.
April 1, 2013

San Joaquin, False River Sandmound Slough, Middle River, Mokelumne River

Water temp: 60

Visibility:3-4 feet
Stripers - Fishing is excellent. This is the first time I've ever posted the fishing as excellent. Everyone contacting me is boating (and releasing) good numbers of fish and while not trophy class, the 4 to occasional 6 pounders are really strong in the warming spring water.

I've found fish at multiple locations, most where the bottom comes up to a high spot, either out on the flats or along the walls. Fish at depths less than 15 feet when the tides are running, either incoming or outgoing. The highs and lows are less productive.
Topwater: Finally! Low light is producing lots of strikes from medium sized fish. Use a gurgler or crease fly with a steady retrieve. Keep the tip of your rod in the water and use a strip/strike when you feel the weight of the fish.

Subsurface: Use the snappy strip described below on a quick sinking line. Countdown so your line is within three feet of the bottom. Keep the rod tip in the water and pointed right at the fly. Once practiced, you can feel the difference between a fish striking the fly as compared to actually taking the fly in its mouth. Use a strip strike so that if you miss, you don't pull the fly completely away from the fish. Finish with the delta dangle.
March 25, 2013

San Joaquin, False River, Sandmound Slough, Mokelumne River

Water temp: 58-60

Visibility: 3-4 feet
Stripers - Fishing is fair to good. The windy conditions on the delta dropped water temperatures on Friday and Saturday and the bite dropped off as well. It seems every time there is a significant drop in water temperatures in the spring, a slow down occurs in the fishing. I didn't fish Monday but did fish today (Tuesday). What started out as a miserable cold, windy day turned around to a warm windless wonder in the afternoon. As the water warmed, so did the bite.

Stick to the main channels and work the high spots next to the shore line.

The situation looks iffy for the rest of the week with possible rain and wind. Check the weather reports before hitting the water.
Topwater: We've had some follows but no fish willing to commit as of yet. We'll keep on trying.

Subsurface: Let's talk stripping. One of the major differences in those who catch fish as compared to those who don't is the strip. Stripers like a very crisp, snappy strip of about a foot, from one to four strips in a row, mixed with pauses of different lengths of time. The fish will hit both on the strip and on the pause. While you might catch a few fish with a wimpy woolly bugger strip, your fish count will go way up with a strip that pops. Get the line down and then strip, strip, strip, pause, strip, pause, strip, strip, strip!
March 18, 2013

San Joaquin, False River, Sandmound Slough, Mokelumne River

Water temp: 58-59

Visibility: 3-4 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good. Fishing is improving throughout the system with fish being reported caught in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin arms of the delta. I've been fishing the main channels on incoming tides with as many as a dozen to 15 fish landed on a tide cycle. Nothing big although I've heard reports of both a 50 pound and 30 pound fish caught up the Moke, past New Hope landing. I believe both these fish were released. Thank you, whoever you are. We need every spawning female we have. A photo will last a lifetime, and releasing that fish provides the possibilities of many more memories for others from the eggs spawned from these big fish.

Also, I've been contacted by the RodMob and have been asked to do semi weekly updates on delta fly fishing. I made a podcast last Thursday for use this last Friday. You can hear the whole podcast at RodMob.Com
Topwater: The water temps have reached the point where topwater action should start in earnest. If you haven't tried topwater get ready for a thrill. Cast out a good size (2/0) white or yellow gurgler and start stripping in without pauses. If a striper starts slashing at the fly, just keep stripping until you feel the fishes weight on the fly line. Then use a good strip set and get ready for a hot run.
Subsurface: Fish shallow water, including the walls and high spots. Use a quick sinking line and a good snappy strip with pauses mixed in. A hot fly has been a mostly white Clouser with a pink collar.
March 11, 2013

San Joaquin, False River, Sandmound Slough, Mokelumne, Hog Slough

Water temp: 56

Visibility: 4 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good. While not big fish, enough of the 3-5 pound class are around to make the day a fun one. The 56 degree and warming water is greening up in typical spring fashion, a good sign for baitfish.

Both tides are productive with the bite slowing down on the tide change. Fish are taking the fly willingly with few false grabs. The fish are working the walls, current seams and flats, looking to fatten up after a cold winter.
Subsurface: Fish in water six to 15 feet deep, close to structure or in current seams. Use the standard striper strip, a series of quick 12 to 18 inch strips, mixed with pauses. Allow the line to sink within three feet of the bottom before starting your retrieve. Try a white Clouser with a pink collar.
March 4, 2013

Mokelumne, the Meadows, Hog Slough, Snodgrass Slough

Water temp: 53-56

Visibility: 2-4 feet
Stripers - Fishing is fair. I'm back on the water after a couple of weeks off. The spring green of the water up has started but very few signs of baitfish in the system.

The Mokelumne system is holding a few fish but we didn't find any large schools.

I'll have a more comprehensive report next week after more time on the water.
Subsurface: The standard striper strip with a Clouser on a full sinking line produces strikes if you can find the fish.
February 9 through February 25th
I'll be out of state, looking for some warmer weather in Arizona, Nevada and Death Valley. My next striper report will be March 4th.  
February 2, 2013

San Joaquin, False River.

Water temp: 50

Visibility: 2-3 feet
Stripers - Fishing is poor. The north delta is still void of fish but it's anticipated that the spring spawning run up river will bring some fish into the system. Not much activity showing anywhere in the system currently.

Other areas, both up and down river are producing a few fish but nothing to get excited about.
A total blank!
January 28, 2013

San Joaquin, False River, Sandmound Slough

Water temp: 46-47

Visibility: 2 feet on the outgoing
Stripers - Fishing is poor. Fished numerous locations in the north delta. No bumps, no grabs, no fish seen on the fish finder.

While most of the hyacinth has disappeared, the delta in general looks like a dead zone. Even a large portion of the mud hens seem to have abandoned it. The only good thing to be said is that water temperatures are climbing.
Truthfully, I can't recommend a thing. The delta seems empty for the most part.
January 21, 2013

San Joaquin, Middle River, Discovery Bay

Water temp: 45-46

Visibility: 2 feet on the outgoing
Stripers - Fishing is poor. Seven hours on the water yielded nothing more than two stripers, an 18 incher and a 16 incher. Both were caught close to the shore using a fast sinking line and chartreuse over white Clouser. The fish graph was empty throughout the entire time on the water.

The best thing is that the water warmed a degree from in the last four days, moving from 44-45 to 45-46.
While visibility was not greater than 2 feet, I believe the lack of baitfish and low water temperatures more responsible for the poor fishing.

I've heard of better fishing farther up the system, Liberty Island, the Meadows, Snodgrass Slough.
Subsurface - Go with your old standbys. So few fish are in the system, now is not the time to experiment. Fish close to the shore and close to the bottom.
January 14, 2013 Stripers - Fair. Some encouraging reports have come in from up river in the area of Liberty Island, way too far to run my boat but accessible for those who trailer.

I'm heading out this week for a couple of excursions and will have a more comprehensive report next Monday.
Subsurface - Chartreuse over white clousers, medium size, heavy on eh white.
January 7, 2013 No Report - Too cold, too muddy  
December 31, 2012 No Report - Too cold, too muddy  
December 23, 2012 No Report - Holiday activities and inclement weather have kept me off the water. I did pass over the Consumes and Dry Creek as well as an unknown creek between Galt and Elk Grove. They are all high and muddy. I'm sure they are increasing the turbidity in the North Delta.  
December 17, 2012

No Report - Turbidity has spread throughout the delta as well as floating debris. Water temperatures have dropped to the low 50's. Rain is forecast on and off for the foreseeable future.

One of my fellow Delta Fly Fishers discovered a really helpful website for checking delta water clarity. With a little practice you can check various locations as to water clarity and even see the difference that incoming and outgoing tides make. Here's the link to the website.

December 11, 2012

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract, Mokelumne River, Holland Cut, Connection Slough, Sandmound Slough, Old River

Water temp:55-56

SJ below the Moke -6 inches
SJ above the Moke -12 inches
Mokelumne 2 inches
False River - 18 inches
Sandmound - 3-5 feet
Holland Cut 3-5 feet
Connection Slough 3-5 feet
Old River 12 inches
Stripers - Fishing is Poor. Not much of a report. I was only out once and the conditions had deteriorated to the point that I fished without a lot of confidence.

We did stick three dinks in the muck but the graph was blank in most locations and the targets I did see could have been rotting hyacinth rather than fish.
Reports from friends were just as discouraging.

The weather has flattened out and the rivers are settling down, slowly returning to their before storm flows, especially the unregulated small creeks. If the steady weather continues without deluges and fast running rivers we could see a rebound before Christmas.

I'll hit the water again during the week, looking for better conditions.
If I'm not catching fish, I can't really recommend any particular presentations!
December 4, 2012

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

Water temp:56

San Joaquin 3 feet
False River 5 feet
Mokelumne 6 inches
Stripers - Fishing is Fair. I didn't think I'd be putting up a fishing report this week since last week's storms kept me off the water until today. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I got in a few hour fishing on the San Joaquin in the area of the mouth of the Mokelumne. The Moke is chocolate from muddy inflow from the Consumes and Dry Creek

I and a friend found fish both on the San Joaquin and False River, Not big and not many but enough to keep us interested for 8 hours. We saw only one other fishing boat the entire day.
Subsurface - Standard presentation techniques. Cast and count down until close to the bottom, a good series of snappy 8 inch strips mixed with pauses will bring on strikes.
November 26, 2012

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

Water temp:56-57

Visibility: 6-8 feet
Stripers - Fishing is Fair to Good. Experience this last week seems to confirm that both the number and size of the fish in the North Delta, at least on the San Joaquin, has diminished from its early November high. That doesn't mean that it's time to hang up the rods for the season, just that you might lower expectations just a tad if fishing the area of the Moke and San Joaquin.

The current three to four day forecast  of heavy weather may change things dramatically since the Sac and the Mokelumne muddy up much quicker than the San Joaquin. If so, the numbers of fish may move back into the SJ again and we'll have to go looking for them.

The best thing is that this time last year the water temperatures were 49 to 52, a full five degrees colder than now. The warmer water means that the fishes metabolism will still be rather high, demanding more feeding periods and greater energy when hooked.

Take the next four days off and get out next week. It will be a whole new game!
Topwater - Ok, even though I haven't brought up a fish in a month, I have received some reports of some smaller fish taking poppers on top. It's early in the morning stuff, with the sun still below the horizon. I don't know if I want to get up THAT early unless the fish are in the double digit class.

Subsurface - With the warm water presentation techniques haven't changed since September although the fish have really spread out from the tight schools they displayed when first migrating into the delta.

Work any water 15 feet and less along rock walls, weed edges of flats, points, the sides of current lines, Many of the fish are holding tight to the edges of weed lines and don't show on a graph. If you're not picking up a few weeds now and then and ticking the bottom now and then you're probably fishing too high in the water column. Cover a lot of water if you expect to find fish and when you do, give the water a good going over before moving on. T-14 lines and chartreuse/white clousers rule!
November 19, 2012

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

Water temp:57-58

Visibility: 6-8 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good. The number of fish in the main river seems to have diminished slightly, especially fish over five pounds. A couple of dozen fish per rod is still possible but to do so you'll have to cover lots of water and hit some lucky honey holes. Some fish have moved to the inner delta but the numbers are low, making for slow fishing.

Both the incoming and outgoing tides are producing and the top of the tide can still provide some action. The hyacinth is a real problem, clogging some areas that could be productive, cutting off any hope of casting.

Weed lines on flats, points, the ends of berms, the shallower shelves along rock walls and even the middle of some of the shallower side channels should be targeted. If no action, keep moving until you find some fish and then work the area thoroughly

Water temperatures are a full 5 to 6 degrees warmer than a year ago making for some hot fish when hooked. The warmer temperatures should extend the good fishing well into December as long as we don't experience an extended cold snap.
Topwater - Although we give it a shot almost every day in water that looks productive, we've had zero results. Keep trying and hoping if the conditions look right.

Subsurface - When found, fish are still aggressive, taking the fly willingly. A chartreuse/white clouser in 1/0, stripped with quick snappy strips mixed with enough pauses to keep the fly near the bottom will bring on a hard strike.

Use your graph but also cast to water to the side that may hold fish, outside the range of your finder.

Much more important than the fly is presentation. Get the fly down to where the fish are. If swinging in a current, start your retrieve before the end of the swing to prevent your line and fly rising from the current. Keep the rod tip down and pointed at the fly.
November 12, 2012

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

Water temp:59-61

Visibility: 4-5 feet
Stripers - Good to Very Good. I'm finding fish at about half of the stops on my daily hunts. Not big and not many but enough to keep a fly fisher interested. Work the edge of weed lines both in mid river on the flats as well as along the rock walls. Both the incoming and outgoing tides are productive but slack water shuts down the action. Most of the fish are coming from water less than 12 feet deep with an occasional school seen as deep as 16 feet. The fish are still very feisty and a four pounder will put most anglers on the reel.

I haven't tried the interior of the delta but I've heard that some decent fish are to be found at the sloughs in and around Discovery Bay. Reports on Sycamore, Hog and Beaver on the Moke tell of very few fish hooked.
Topwater - Although the conditions seem to be perfect, almost no fish brought up fishing topwater, even in low light. Give it a shot but if not producing, go to subsurface presentations after a reasonable effort.

Subsurface - Small 1/0 chartreuse/white clousers are the only flies I've been using and can't find any excuse to try something else unless fishing with an intermediate and in very shallow water. Airheads and epoxy head deceivers work well in those conditions. Make sure when fishing deep that you get DOWN to where the fish are before stripping in.
November 5, 2012

San Joaquin,  False River, Frank's Tract, Mokelumne River, Sandmound Slough

Water temp:63-64 (five degrees warmer than this time last year)

Visibility: 4-5 feet, less on the incoming.
Stripers - Fair to Good. The last week was outstanding most days but seems to have fallen off slightly for the last two days. I've been finding lots of fish to 30 inches in shallow water close to weed beds. Some days in schools while on other days you have to work for each and every one.

I haven't found any reason to abandon the big water in favor of the smaller sloughs and interior of the delta although I have heard some reports of a few fish here and there. The absolutely flat water and bright sun seems to be working against catching lots of fish but is really nice for the fishermen.

While slack water is still the slowest time of the day, the rules appear to be out the window generally with fish feeding at all stages of the tide. Current helps but a good retrieve will generate a hard strike even in slack water.
Topwater - Just plain tough lately even with perfect conditions. My guys have tried everything from Pole Dancers to gurglers in dark and light colors with zero results for the past week. Don't tell that to the gear guys throwing the lunker plunkers. They say they're pounding them.

Subsurface - Small is good along with chartreuse and white. Cast on flats and along walls close to the weeds and rocks. Fish appear to be in tight to cover and any bait fish chased up look pretty small. The smaller fish are bumping the flies but the bigger fish are inhaling them. Speed up your retrieve on slack water.
October 29, 2012

San Joaquin,  False River, Frank's Tract, Mokelumne River, Sandmound Slough

Water temp:63-64 (five degrees warmer than this time last year)

Visibility: 4-5 feet, less on the incoming.
Stripers - Fair to Good. OK, the "silent running" is over now that the C&R tournament is over. I can happily say that team Delta Striper came in first in the big fish category with a 33 inch, 13 pound striper. We recorded another four legals and LDRed three that definitely would have made the list. My partner Mike Bruce, while not an experienced striper angler proved he handled a good stick, bringing in the big fish and three others. Now to the actual report for the week.

Big fish are tough to find and dinks almost as tough. Work each spot thoroughly but don't sit on a spot that is not producing. Work current seams, areas where water is pushing against tules or banks, shallow edges of walls, flats with sparse weeds. Learn to use your graph with the Fish ID turned OFF. You will get much fewer false readings. Blind cast into the shallows at the walls and flats where your graph is useless

Once you locate some decent fish, keep making passes until you are SURE that you've exhausted the resource.

Mornings seem better than evenings and any stage of the tide besides the bottom of the low and the wimpy minor incomings get the few fish in the system turned on.

Unless you've got some honey holes to check out, in the inner delta stick to the big waters. However, some fish have been reported in Beaver on the Moke and in and around the entrances to Disco Bay.

Striperfest this coming Saturday. Yippee!!!
Topwater - Conditions have been absolutely perfect in the early mornings but the number of strikes are few. Probably more because of the lack of fish rather than the weather. However, it's worth the effort to give it a try at daybreak to the end of the first hour of daylight. If successful, keep on throwing, if not, go subsurface. Working flies include Pole Dancers, crease flies, gurglers, and little chuggers. Keep the rod tip in the water and use a constant strip with enough effort to cause a commotion on the surface. DON'T lift the rod tip if a strike. Wait to feel the weight of the fish and use a strip set to hook. Keep good pressure on the fish once hooked.

Subsurface - Same advice as last week, get the fly DOWN. Because schools of fish are so rare, we're fishing as deep as 25 feet when we graph fish. Use a LONG countdown, even ticking the bottom before starting your retrieve. Once started allow enough pauses to keep your fly down. The bigger fish are taking the fly on the first grab. And, with the warm water (5 degrees warmer than this time last year0 they are HOT.

We're in primetime when it comes to the fall "run". Get out and go fishing. I guarantee you'll catch more than you would watching the NFL as a couch potato.
October 22, 2012

San Joaquin, Dutch Slough, False River, Frank's Tract, Mokelumne River, Sandmound Slough, Holland Cut

Water temp:64-65

Visibility: 4-5 feet, less on the incoming.
Stripers - Fishing is fair to good. A tough week to grade the fishing with some days last week close to outstanding and others, just plain duds. A lot depended on finding the fish. Once found, they were aggressive most days, and on others seemed to have lockjaw.

Topwater action was just as mixed with lots of hits one day and almost nothing the day after, even though the conditions seemed the same or even better.

I believe it all boils down to not too many fish in the system. Some days you're on them and other days they're just tough to find.

I'm finding it best to work an area thoroughly when fish show up on the graph, not giving up until you feel you've given the area your best in presentations.
Topwater - Action has been spotty with some days really producing well into the morning while other days the fish just won't come up. One thing is for sure, get out EARLY if you want the chance to stick a fish on top. Pole dancers and gurglers have been top flies.

Subsurface - The same advice as weeks past. Get the fly DOWN to the fish. While we're picking up fish in water as shallow as 3 feet fishing using an intermediate line, we're also finding fish as deep as 25 feet. It takes a quick sinking line like T-14 to get this deep as well as good presentation technique. Dump extra line at the end of a cast if the boat is moving away from the line or quarter cast up river as necessary to get the fly to the bottom.
October 15, 2012

San Joaquin, Dutch Slough, False River, Frank's Tract, Mokelumne River, Sandmound Slough

Water temp:64-65

Visibility: 4-5 feet, less on the incoming.
Stripers - Fishing is good. The number of fish in the north delta seems to be static to a little fewer than the previous week. The schools of dinks around the outside of Frank's Tract have been beaten up with steady fly fishing pressure and now, a number of trollers and bait fishermen as well. The schools are much reduced in size from three weeks ago.

The bait fishermen and trollers were out in numbers this weekend, with the bait slingers working the flats or mouths of sloughs and the trollers working the rock walls.

Some fish have been reported in the inner delta all the way down to Old River in the south but not in great numbers. However, some large fish were reported as caught and released, a big improvement from last year.

The big water holds fish from 2-7 pounds but you have to work for each and every one covering lots of ground to find just a few fish. Midweek, with its cloud cover was much better fishing than Saturday and Sunday, and the incoming tides produced much more action than the outgoing, especially on the weekend when the action just flat died in the afternoon.

Topwater presentations worked all day Friday, fell off Saturday and was practically non-existent on Sunday. The small amount of action was limited to the morning outgo.
Topwater - Get out EARLY if you want some action. Work the sunken tulle berms and flats under five feet deep. Gurglers with long tails and Pole Dancers have been good producers. Don't forget the "dark day, dark fly" admonishment. Use a steady retrieve and WAIT till you feel the weight of the fish before setting the hook. The bite has been shutting off by 10am on brighter days.

Subsurface - The secret in sticking larger fish seems to be getting the fly DOWN! I'm letting my fly tick the bottom before beginning my retrieve and it seems to be working.

While your graph helps in locating the dink schools, don't rely on it completely since most of the larger fish seem to be singles or with only one or two other fish. Just cast to likely locations and farm them for whatever might be holding. Flats and points are prime locations for working fish right now. Fish can be holding down as deep as 20 feet off the edge of the flats and along the rock walls so WAIT before starting that retrieve when fishing deeper water.
October 8, 2012

San Joaquin, False River, Frank's Tract, Mokelumne River, Sandmound Slough

Water temp:67-68

Visibility: 4-5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is very good. The good news is that greater numbers of legal fish have moved up and into the north delta. Equally good is that topwater action has improved and water temperatures have finally dropped below the 70 degree mark.

Larger fish, from 18 inches to 6-7 pounds are cruising the shelves along the edges of the main river. They can also be found at lower levels under juvenile fish schooling in the sloughs.

Topwater action can be found in the shallows around tule berms and on sparsely covered weedy  flats less than five feet deep in the main river and the sloughs. Birds are now working the small boils that pop up from time to time, signaling the angler that something's happening on top.
Topwater - Time to get serious about topwater. Try to get on the water at first light and work the shallow areas, especially those with some obvious current flow. Throw some long casts and use a constant strip for a retrieve. DO NOT set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish or you'll just end up with an airborn fly and a missed fish.

Subsurface - Fish have been aggressive on both the incoming and outgoing tides with the only slowdowns in the bite occurring at or near the slack periods at the top and bottom of the tides. Threadfin shad patterns (black/grey/white) in clouser dress as well as the old chartreuse/white standby are consistent producers.

Get your casts DOWN close to the bottom, even ticking the mud on the first couple of strips. Multiple grabs before hook ups are the norm.
October 1, 2012

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

Water temp:70

Visibility: 4-5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good. However, it's been a strange week with warming weather and water, a full moon and lots and lots of boat traffic. Missing are the trollers and bait fishermen normally out on the water at this time of year.

Large fish are still scarce in north delta waters but that is made up for in schools of thousands of dinks to barely legal sized fish. Fly fishers can be seen working these schools throughout the north delta, with the hopes that something over 16 inches will take the fly. Some fish from four to five pounds are being pulled out of these swarms of peewees.
Topwater - Topwater action is there if you want to get up early enough or stay late enough to work the low light hours. On windier days, some topwater action has been present as late as 10:00am. Gurglers, crease flies and the new Pole Dancers will bring vicious strikes if retrieved with a steady pull. Wait until you feel the weight of the fish before lifting the rod tip.

Subsurface - Almost any shallow spot either along the shoreline as a shelf or in mid river as a shoal is holding fish, sometimes in the hundreds. The average size is something between 12 and 17 inches but larger fish can be hiding in those schools. Use your graph to locate the fish and then count down until you're sure your fly is in the strike zone. If you're not getting strikes, you're probably not fishing deep enough. Any chartreuse/white fly seems to work.
September 24, 2012 No report this week. I'm spending the week in the Eastern Sierras with my club, The Delta Fly Fishers.
September 17, 2012

San Joaquin, False River, Old River Mokelumne River, Dutch Slough

Water temp: 68-71

Visibility: 5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good Mornings are best with the fishing dropping off in the early afternoons. While incoming tides have proved to be most productive, the top two thirds of an outgoing also works if early in the day. Several reports of larger fish moving in. Topwater - More boils reported in the early morning and more fish moving in should start producing some top water action.

Subsurface - Fish are getting a little more finicky about presentations. If fish aren't taking the fly, speed up or slow down your retrieve, Make sure you're getting down and into the fish before starting to retrieve.
September 10, 2012

San Joaquin, False River, Franks Tract, Sandmound Slough, Middle River, Old River Mokelumne River

Water temp: 68-71

Visibility: 5 feet
Stripers - Fishing is good and would have been rated at very good if the wind hadn't blown all week. Schools of smaller fish can be found all over the west delta but you have to sort through the dinks to find some legal sized fish. The wind predictions for the week to come are for lighter winds which should allow for covering more water and much better fishing.

The tides throughout the week are prime for some exceptional fishing if the wind continues to lay down.
Topwater - Some boils have been spotted with smaller fish but we haven't had a chance to fish one yet. It looks like the topwater action is starting.

Subsurface -
Fish are willingly taking the chartreuse over white clouser and I have not tried much else. Make sure you get your fly down into the fish rather than skating along over their heads. Allow plenty of time counting down and mix your strips and pauses so that the fly stays there during the retrieve. The speed of the strip is not as important as the depth the fly is fished at.

Shorten your tippet/leader to about 3 feet to get better control of your fly. Expect strikes close to the boat when the fly turns from the horizontal to vertical.
September 3, 2012

Sherman Island, Big Break, Dutch Slough, San Joaquin River, False River, Fisherman's Cut, Mokelumne River, Potato Slough

Water Temp: 68-71

Visibility: 3 feet
Stripers - Fishing is very good. Stripers continue to provide action especially on the west side of the delta and during incoming tides. The fish seem to disappear once the tide changes.

Schools are mixed with fish to five and six pounds in the same schools as fish in the six inch category. Although out on the water early, top water action has not been obvious.

I'll work some likely topwater spots this week and see if we can bring a few fish up top.
Subsurface - Fish are willingly taking a chartreuse over white clouser when fished close to the bottom and with some pregnant pauses along with a series of quick strips.

Count your line down until you're ticking the bottom and then cast taking a few counts off the sink.
August 27, 2012

Sherman Island, San Joaquin River, False River, Mokelumne River

Water Temp: 68-71

Visibility: 3 feet
Stripers - Fishing is very good. Fish are plentiful in the western section of the delta and while I didn't find any fish of size, a number of fish in the 3-7 pound class have shown up. With the warm water temperatures, the fish are willing to take a fly and hot when hooked. Subsurface - I didn't get beyond the workhorse chartreuse over white clouser since fish readily grabbed the fly. A quick series of strips with the essential pauses brought on the strikes. Allow the line to sink within 3 feet of the bottom before starting your strip.
August 20, 2012

Sherman Island

Water Temp: 71

Visibility: 1-2 feet
First report of the season! Unfortunately I can't report on the fishing! A friend of mine volunteered to take his jet boat out on the delta to try it out for the first fishing day of the season. We found out quickly that an outboard jet is NOT the engine to prowl the delta in. We weren't able to cover more than a quarter mile before the intake was completely fouled with weed AND we had to unclog it several more times before getting back to the dock.

My schedule won't allow for another excursion until next Monday but I should be able to get in a partial report for next Monday night and a steady stream of weekly reports after that.
Nothing to recommend right now!