The calm , protested waters of the Barge Canal and Port of West Sacramento offer excellent access for rowing and kayaking . Photo by DAN BACHER , Fish Sniffer Staff
Port of West Sacramento / Ship Channel : Popular Fishing Destination for Stripers , Black Bass and Catfish
For many years , public bank angling access to the Port of Sacramento and the Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel was problematic . This all changed in November 2007 when the Barge Canal Recreational Access to the port area was opened by the City of West Sacramento . Located at 2100 Jefferson Boulevard in West Sacramento across from the South River Road , the access features an all-weather vehicle parking area , an all-weather walking / biking trail and fishing access along the south bank of the Barge Canal . The barge canal is lined with trees , so anglers fishing during the heat of the summer can take advantage of the shade . The area includes picnic and sitting fixtures , port and environmental resource interpretive panels and trash and recycling receptacles . For the boater , there is a hand-carry boat ramp . Motorized boats aren ’ t allowed . To launch a motorized boat , you still have to apply on a waiting list for the Washington Outboard Club . However , the barge canal ramp is just fine if you want fish from a kayak , float tube , canoe or other non-motorized boat . For safety reasons , only small , hand-carried boats should be launched here . Shore anglers park at this access and walk to their fishing spot ; you can ’ t park on the levees anymore . The access is only open from dawn until dusk , so you ’ ll have to fish in the day for the cats . The port of Sacramento and Port of Sacramento first became known by anglers for the large channel catfish that were caught here in the late sixties and early seventies , but the
average size of the fish has declined in recent years . The explosion of the catfish population was probably spurred by the influx of food and nutrients that took place when the port was finished in 1963 . Now most of the cats are fish in the 1 to 2-pound range , with an occasional larger white or channel catfish . Mackerel , chicken liver , nightcrawlers , minnows , sardines and prepared baits are your best bets for the whiskerfish . In recent years , the port and ship channel has supported a popular fishery for striped bass . Striped bass are caught throughout the year , but the port really gets going from October through April when the stripers move into the port to feed on the big schools of shad that congregate here . “ The shad look for a calm backwaters like the port to spawn ,” said Dennis Pfanner at Sacramento Pro Tackle . Bank anglers catch the fish while fishing jumbo minnows on sliding sinkers on the bottom . Mudsuckers , butterflied shad , sardine fillets and pileworms ,, are other very productive striper baits . For the float tuber or boater , a plethora of methods can be used to entice striped bass in the port . You can plug , spoon , troll or drift minnows when fishing for stripers in
Kevin Zhong of Sacramento proudly displays two chunky largemouth bass that he caught in the Port of West Sacramento .
Photo by DAN BACHER , Fish Sniffer Staff . the port and Sacramento Deep Water Channel . Mark Wilson , striper fishing expert and member of the Washington Outboard Club , recommended trolling minnow imitation lures including P-Line Predators and Angry Eyes , Mann ’ s Stretch 15 Lures , Yo-Zuris , Bombers and Rebels , tipped with plastic worms , for the stripers .
“ Ninety percent of the anglers troll deep , but you can catch fish with both shallow diving and deep diving lures ,” said Wilson . “ I like to troll at 16 to 20 feet deep at 3 mph or shallow at 7 to 8 feet at 4-1 / 2 to 5 mph .” Most of the keeper-sized stripers caught in the port are in the 18 to 28 inch range , but much bigger fish are landed here every year , including lunkers up to 40 pounds . Spooning with Blade Runner spoons and other lures is highly effective when the shad school up in the port . Rick Tietz of Blade Runner Tackle finds topnotch catch and release striper action while spooning with his lures in the Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel and port . The trick here is to find stripers balled up on schools of shad . “ On a recent trip , to the port , I caught and released 30 keeper stripers ,” said Tietz . “ I found the top action while using 1-3 / 4 ounce spoons in the Sierra color on the incoming tide .” Black bass anglers also enjoy fishing the barge canal