Conejo Valley Fly Fishers

Home ] Up ] [ Delta Stripers 12-98 ] Sopris Creek, CO 12-98 ] Lee's Ferry, AZ  12-98 ] San Juan River, NM 12-98 ] Upper Sac and Fall River 11-98 ] Merced River 11-98 ] Bass'n on Westlake 5-98 ] Provo and Green Rivers, UT 5-98 ] Pleasant Valley Reservoir - The Gorge 12-98 ] San Juan River, NM 2-98 ]

San Joaquin Delta Stripers

by Jimmy Toy

Friday, December 18, 1998

Decided to take a day off and go striper fishing in the Delta. I drove from Sacramento to Discovery Bay, which is 20 miles west of Stockton. I met previous speaker and guide and Mike Costello at the marina at Discovery Bay at 8:30AM. It was foggy and cold as we headed out.

According to Mike, the delta has around 1,200 miles of navigable water. Needless to say, having a boat is practically a must. As far as scenery is concerned, there isn’t much. Terrain is flat, and the fog didn’t help much either. We fished Mildred’s and Frank’s tract and the connecting sloughs. Water clarity was between 2 and 4 feet.

Equipment and technique

Mike supplied 8wt Thomas & Thomas rods lined with lead core shooting heads. We used size 2/0 Whistlers, weighted with bead chain eyes, in chartreuse and white, and purple and white.

The best time to fish for stripers is with the changing tide. Find a school of feeding fish, then cast the fly as far as you could. Once we made the cast, we would count down the fly to the desired depth. We fished water that was between 5 and 15 feet. Start the fly moving with 3 to 4 long, quick strips. Pause for 1 to 3 seconds. 2 to 3 strips. Pause. 2 to 3 strips. Pause. Continue until you have retrieved all of the line.

Although we did mark quite a few fish on the finder, getting them to hit was a different story. We never got into the feeding frenzy Mike had hoped for. Perhaps the change in air temperature put them off. I had three hits and landed one. Mike landed one fish as well. All my strikes, which were subtle, came on the pause. That is, when I started to strip again, I felt the weight of the fish. I had two fish on, and for 3 pounders, they were very strong, hard fighters. I gave the first fish a bit of slack and lost him. Mike told me I had to fight the fish very aggressively. Pressure on the fish all the time, i.e., either I was taking line or the fish was. He told me not to worry about getting the fish on the reel unless it was a really big, in which case the fish would do it for me! All were within the 3 to 4 pound range. Mike had been averaging fish in the 7-pound range. Should have been here yesterday. Biggest fish was 31 pounds a couple of years ago.

Winter fishing for stripers is typically subsurface, sinking lines. Mike said they do get surface activity in the spring as it warms. IMHO, if you don’t have a boat or the heavier gear, it makes sense to go with a guide.

If you go, check with Mike Costello or FishFirst for conditions. Boats can be rented at Frank’s Tract.

FishFirst is at



Created by Bill's WebDesigns by Bill