FREEPORT — Sturgeon fishing in the main stem of the Sacramento River has been “on fire” as they continue their trek upriver to spawn, while the striper action picked up on the Mokelumne River, thanks to the DFG.
Reporting for New Roman’s Bait & Tackle, Richard Witham said he’s been seeing anywhere from 3 to 5 sturgeon a day lately at the shop. “The sturgeon bite is on fire all through the Merits Landing area for bank anglers and the entire Freeport area in the main stem for boaters,” he said. “There have been a lot of green sturgeon, over-sized fish and a good mixed bag of everything in between. There are some in the sloughs such as Prospect, but not the way they were a few weeks ago, they are back out in the main stem in faster water now.”
A reminder to anglers, the larger fish are females here to spawn, so please release them when possible.
“With blossoms already on the trees and an early spring, an early striper run is a real possibility. The bite has, in fact, already started to pick up,” Witham said. “Practicing catch and release, one angler caught 16 on Saturday averaging 8 pounds. Umbrella rigs, jigging, live bait, a little bit of everything has been working. But you had better get out here sooner than later, just in case there are no more rains.”
Capt. Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sportfishing reported DFG once again filled the waters of the South Mokelumne River with smolts this past week, making for easy temporary pickings for the stripers, and the bite picked up.
“We were busy running in the northwest Delta chasing sturgeon, when we got word they had been making smolt drops, so as darkness turned to gray light Saturday morning and the smolts started doing their morning ritual of jumping out of the water, we were there and ready for them,” Gravert said.
“I was drifting jumbo minnows as usual for stripers, but we were ready with some Blade Runner umbrella rigs with 5-inch Hippo Hallow baits in a trout pattern,” Gravert said. “While we were in a holding pattern waiting for clients, I landed 2 stripers over 30 inches and one right at 34 inches. We also had a few smaller keepers in the same area before we ran south.” Today (Sunday) Gravert said he used his umbrella rigs with equal success.
Gravert said water conditions were great, with water temperatures holding at 54.5 and only a slight stain during the outgoing tide. “At high tide the water clarity was perfect,” he said.
Another Super Bowl Sturgeon Derby is on the books, this year with a targeted length of 59 inches. With hundreds of boats out there vying for big bucks (over $30,000 was paid out for this two-day event) the lower Delta was packed last weekend. Since then, as sturgeon fever died, the area has once again gone quiet and only a few fish were caught as few anglers were out chasing them.