Northern CA Freshwater

Rio Vista: Sturgeon, striper anglers descend on Sacramento-side of Delta

By DAVE HURLEY/WON Staff WriterPublished: Nov 13, 2019

RIO VISTA — Sturgeon and striper fishermen have arrived in force in the Sacramento-Delta, but the action has been up and down and the grass and debris from the Rio Vista Bridge to the Carquinez Bridge remains heavy, and the constant debris is clogging lines when the tide is moving.

Sturgeon fishing has been excellent in Suisun Bay on some days, but there have been more tough days than good days lately. Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing was out with Joey Gamez of Golden State Sport Fishing on Thursday night on an evening trip until 1:00 a.m., and he said, “The bite was very tough, and we had grass clogging us up in every location with the exception of Chain Island. We only had a few bites all night long, and the wind was howling, so we had to hide in the sloughs.

sturgeonarestartingSTURGEON ARE STARTING back up in the Delta and Suisun Bay, which is where Keith Washington of Benicia caught this 57-inch sturgeon before release with Captain Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures on salmon roe in Suisun Bay.

“The sturgeon seem to only want eel or ghost shrimp based on our experience and what others are telling me,” Mitchell said. “We marked plenty of sturgeon at Chain Island, but it was hard to get them to go. Garnet Point was another location with plenty of sturgeon, but there was so much grass there that it was difficult to keep at bait in the water. Mitchell has been fielding calls and setting up trips for Gamez, Mike Funtanilla of Bend Ur Rod, or Zach Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures until his boat, the Top Gun is repowered with twin outboards. Mitchell will also be featured at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition in Sacramento with a sturgeon fishing seminar on the Saturday of the show. Medinas will also be featured at the ISE with his partner, co-captain Virginia Salvador.

Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait in Martinez reported sturgeon fishermen are out there in droves by the Mothball Fleet, the Big Cut, and the Middle Grounds, and it was boat to boat by the bridge on Sunday. “We are selling plenty of grass shrimp, and it has been hard to keep it in the shop,” Lopez said. “There are still a few salmon around, and one angler picked up a limit at 18 and 23 pounds on a Vee-Zee Spinner at 1st Street. These fish are still bright. Striped bass has been decent from the shoreline, and they are still catching big stripers on splittail in the Sacramento River, but the live splitttail have been harder to find.”

Tim Boggs of Elkhorn Outdoor Sports in Rio Linda said “The area near the Mothball Fleet continues to produce stripers and has plenty of signs of sturgeon around. We had some guys at the mothball fleet who caught six really nice stripers, and the biggest was around 12 pounds and the average was 6 pounds, all on ghost shrimp. Yesterday the bite was really slow, but we got one around 9 pounds and lost two others. We had a nice sturgeon on that broke the line. If guys want stripers, they need to head to Suisun. There are a lot of really nice stripers out there and quite a few sturgeon.”

Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, was up in the Liberty Island area this week, but he found tough striped bass action once again. Switching over to flipping, he loaded up with a heavy limit of largemouth bass while seeing crappie in 15 to 17 feet in depth around submerged trees. He brought out his crappie rod the following day, and he said, “We slaughtered the slabs with the Bass Magic tube bait.”

Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Salmon fishermen are scarce, but they are still picking up bright fish on occasion from the shorelines. Diehard fishermen are finding salmon to 30 pounds from the banks with Flying C’s or other heavy spoons. Striper fishing has been best with mudsuckers around Liberty Island, the Sacramento Deep Water Channel, and near the Rio Vista Bridge. Sturgeon still haven’t made a showing up here in numbers yet, and the best action remains around Chain Island. Bluegill and crappie are in all of the back sloughs with live minnows or mini-jigs for the slabs and redworms or meal worms for the bluegill.”

Captain Dave Sharp was back again on Sunday near Chain Island, and they were soaking butterflied shad for five legal stripers by early afternoon. He said, “The grass remains bad, but it was okay on the incoming tide for two hours before a pile of grass came in. You have to avoid the areas with grass, as you can’t fish for long when the water is moving.” Sharp has joined the staff at Marina Bait and Tackle in Suisun City, and he reported high sales of grass shrimp, pileworms, and blood worms for both sturgeon and striped bass.

Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, has become a live bait expert recently and said, “I was out with Mark Wilson earlier in the week, and all of our stripers were taken on live mudsuckers, since you couldn’t troll. We were able to troll for a while on Friday and landed three legal stripers around Chain Island before the grass became too much and we switched over to drifting live minnows. We were able to pick up another 5 keepers on the minnows to 7 pounds, and there are new fish coming in as these were from a fresh school.”

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