The premier place to fish for California striped bass is at the San Joaquin Delta. This bass angler’s utopia covers five counties and thousands of square miles. The prime months to catch these bass are May and November as they travel through on their migratory route. Year-round species available at San Joaquin Delta include bass (smallmouth, largemouth), salmon, bluegill, catfish (bullhead, channel, white), crappie, shad, sturgeon, yellow perch, and redear sunfish. This is just a short list of the many fish you can find here.
For largemouth bass (March through November, with optimum opportunities in springtime), target weeds/tules along the shoreline or sheltered areas. Largemouths can be caught anywhere on the Delta, though starting in the central area around Antioch, Stockton and Tracy gives great results. Smallmouth bass (June through August) are less common catches, but it is possible to find them in the northern Delta, and they often share space with Spotted Bass. A very good spot for Smallmouths/Spotteds is upstream from Rio Vista. Look for riprap on the shorelines, then cast within a few feet to catch Smallmouths, while Spotteds tend to stay active in open, colder waters.
For salmon, wait for their migratory runs, which happen at various times throughout the year, though most actively in the Fall (August through November). At the height of the fall run, King salmon will be throughout the Delta and Sacramento River system. In late summer, seek salmon at Suisun Bay and the Lower Delta. For shoreline or pier fishing with large spinners, try the Pittsburgh and Antioch areas moving upstream to Rio Vista. When fishing for salmon, sturdy baitcasting rods (at least eight feet) and reels, and at least 20 pound line, are needed to provide leverage for bringing in these hefty fighters.
Bottom-fishing with minnows or smelly bait produces catfish and the occasional white sturgeon, but a rare green sturgeon must be released if caught.
The huge San Joaquin Delta is widely accessible through launch ramps, public parks, and state fishing access sites which offer options for shore fishers and launches for boats and kayaks. The massive variety of fish available means staying flexible. Be ready for anything in this fishing paradise, as you might need to switch up your technique depending on which fish are cooperating that day!
San Joaquin Delta Fish:
San Joaquin Delta boat ramps:
The following boat ramps provide access to San Joaquin Delta.