Striper pandemonium in the Delta
By: Kirby Desha for The News Messenger
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I heard that distinctive zzzzzz coming from my reel as I jumped up to pull the rod out of the rod holder.

“Let it run!” yelled our captain. “It’s a BIG one!”

I watched the line counter as the fish ran off over 100 feet of line before I started trying to get a turn on the handle. Then, just as it seemed I was gaining some ground on it, I felt a “pop” and it was gone.

As the saying goes, the big ones don’t get big by being dumb. The beast swam off to live another day.

Disappointed but not broken, I set the line out again knowing another big one was out there lurking.

Although the fall run of striped bass is not generally as big an event as the spring run, this years’ action in the delta has been “off the hook.” 

Striper fishing guys are notoriously tight lipped and, when the local reports start getting sparse, I always suspect something good is happening and no one wants to give away any secrets. After hearing gossip and rumors for weeks, I decided to book a trip and see for myself.

Fishing the California Delta is unique in several ways. One has to be on top of the weather at all times and, the biggest factor is, knowing the changing tides. An inexperienced angler runs the risk of either getting lost or just plain skunked without a good understanding of where the fish may be from day to day.

My go-to guide for the area is Captain David Hammond of Delta Pro Fishing.  David consistently puts his clients on limits of stripers and sturgeon. He is a high energy, affable guy who works hard and will readily share his knowledge of the area.

On the day before Labor Day, we met David at the ramp at Brannan Island State Park. Our party of four consisted of my two daughters, Raina and Sabrina, Raina’s boyfriend, Joel and me.

After a quick tutorial on gear and safety from David, we blasted off to the Sacramento River. We decided on the rotation of whose turn it was. As always, I like to take turns when a fish hits, so that everyone shares the rods.

For trolling, David finds an area close to a shoreline that is about 12-16 feet deep and relatively free from the grass and weeds. We set out three rods each running a deep diving Yo-Zuri plug in a variety of color patterns.

Within minutes, we had our first strike and Raina landed a healthy legal-sized fish at about 20 inches. From, there, everybody took turns and we started filling up the box.

A few undersized fish were released along the way, but most were around 20 inches or larger with a few bigger ones mixed in.

At one point, we had a double hook up with both Raina and I fighting fish at the same time.

By noon we had our 10 fish limit, but overall we landed at least 20 legal-size fish and several shakers.

Back at the ramp, David filleted and skinned the fish for us, a chore I am not fond of doing. It was a great trip with lasting memories for the family.

To reach Cpt. David Hammond, called (916) 479-3492 or check his website at Delta Pro Fishing.