striper increased range for the hit . While the weather is usually very nice this time of year , remember , any change in barometric pressure can put stripers on lockjaw . Consistent weather for about 3 days in a row produces the best bite . The single most important information when setting up a day of trolling on the Delta is the tide . I use a TideLog tide book because it has pictures of the tides , which makes it easy to see how the day lays out . Look for smaller tides of 3 feet , or less , water movement and look for the flood tide for the day . A smaller and flood tide typically has a larger “ bite window ,” and the water tends to be clearer . The “ bite window ” is the part of the tide when the fish are most actively feeding . This is typically the last and first hour of the tide , but it can be the whole tide when both a small tide and a flood tide are in combination . When tides aren ’ t optimal , gas up the boat and put on some miles . This is called “ running the tides ”, and with beautiful fall weather , it ’ s easy . Remember , the next tide is approaching from the Golden Gate , so use that to your advantage . For instance , if you have a flood tide that starts at 10am in Rio Vista , but you ’ re launching the boat at 7am and don ’ t want to troll in water that is unlikely to produce , make a 45 minute run to the lower Delta ( somewhere like Collinsville or Broad Slough ) where that flood tide will already be starting . Troll those areas and work your way back up river , following that same tide but now in the opposite direction . Hit all your favorite spots as you move with the tide . This is the most effective way to fish the Delta , always utilizing the best tides , or parts of the tides , throughout the day . In the fall , stripers are returning from the bay , so spend more of your day in the lower Delta . Locate areas that provide some sort of cover for this aggressive ambush predator . The more obvious spots include tule lines , weed lines , sandbars , shoals , uneven bottoms , points , rock walls , pilings , and docks . The not so obvious spots are those created by tides and weather and are continually changing throughout the day . Examples of these are your current breaks ( areas where tidal current is interrupted or where two currents meet ), wind-blown shoreline or structure , and the water ’ s color line ( where muddy and clear water meet ). As you spend more time on the Delta , you will begin to pick up on these subtle but important nuances . If you don ’ t already own one , be sure to purchase a quality Delta map , one that shows bottom contours and structure . Spend some time looking for areas to target on your next trip . When you find these areas mark them using a highlighter pen . Team this information with the that from your Tidelog and come up with a game plan for your day of trolling .
GONE FISHING continued from page 2
The tools of the Delta troller are pretty simple . Beyond a boat , rod and sonar unit , you ’ ll need to spool your reel with 30lb . braid and pick up a spool of 30 lb . mono for leader material . In addition to line , you ’ ll need some minnow plugs , a package of white plastic worms and some snaps for attaching your plugs to the leader .
Photo courtesy of DELTA PRO FISHING , Elk Grove
The most successful anglers always have multiple game plans ready before their boat even touches the water . At the end of the day , make notes of all that happened both good and bad . These notes should include things such as date , tide , weather , location , water temperature , water clarity , total fish count ( both shakers and keepers ). Over time , you will see patterns that can help you on future trips . When trolling for stripers in deeper water ( 12 ’ to 18 ’), use your sonar and look for fish at or near the bottom . These are the fish that are FEEDING . Typically , the fish you see suspended are just traveling , not at all interested in biting your lure . Run the lures as close to bottom as possible without snagging up . Using a line counter reel , start by putting out 65 ’ to 75 ’ of line and watch . I like to see the lures “ digging ” every so often just to make sure they are in the strike zone . The correct speed is somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 mph . Vary your speed and see what the stripers like , then stick with it . Targeting stripers in the shallow waters , between 6 and 8 feet , involves a whole new level of attention and skill . When trolling at speeds between 4 and 5 MPH , things happen fast . When locating fish , the sonar many times , is worthless . With
a cone angle ( sonar ) of 30 degrees you just can ’ t see that much in shallow water . This means you must really work these areas over . Make several passes , in both directions , while trying to keep your lures in the strike zone of 6 to 8 feet . Stay out of NO MAN ’ S LAND , which is water depths over 10 feet where you are unlikely to hookup . This can best be attained by using your main motor and giving the smaller kicker a break . Using the big motor gives you more control to follow the bottom contour more accurately and it gives you the horses you need to get out of dangerous positions . Drop your lures back between 135 to 150 feet , making sure to stagger your spread of lures so they won ’ t tangle . This gives the stripers time to recover from you running over them . Also , be sure to run a light to medium drag , so you don ’ t rip the lure from the fish at these speeds . The advantage of shallow water trolling over deep is you can cover a lot of fishy water fast . With thousands of miles of water in the delta , this is huge . This is why I would have to say it is my favorite technique for putting stripers in the box . Stripers are a schooling fish , so once you find them , stay on them . If there aren ’ t any other boats around ,
take your time and pace the fish . Give them time in between hookups to regroup . By doing this , you can dramatically extend that bite . On occasion I ’ ve had stripers stay wide open for hours , using this technique . Gear , tackle , and rigging are also important . One of the most critical elements of trolling stripers is presentation and action , action , action . I use the Lamiglas Classic Glass rod , 8 ’ 2 ”, rated at 10 to 20lbs . because it is all fiberglass and will show you the lure action like none other . Also , the bend of the rod allows for better hookups and is more forgiving when fighting big stripers . I team this with a Shimano Tekota 500 LC . This reel is top of the line and will hold more than enough 30lb . Power Pro to land any fish out there . The LC stands for line counter which is critical for proper presentation and accuracy in approach . For the leader , I run a 3 feet of P-Line 30lb . mono with a , top of the line , swivel and duo-lock snap from makers Sampo or Rosco . This setup gives you a great balance of a soft rod with the strength of the reel spooled with no stretch braid . It puts fish in the box ! When it comes to lures , you might be surprised how few lures I use on a average day . Most all advertised striper lures will catch fish , but what I look for in a lure is whether it is durable and consistent . That ’ s why I use Yozuri and Bomber lures for all my trolling . The specific Yozuri is the 5.25 ” floating in both shallow ( 6 ’ - 8 ’) and deep diving ( 12 ’ -16 ’), for the Bomber it ’ s the Long A-16A for shallow ( 6 ’ to 8 ’) and the B25A for deep ( 16 ’ to 18 ’). The best color patterns are chartreuse / silver , red / white , and rainbow . Remember to always replace the hooks and split rings . I prefer Owner 4X trebles ( ST-66TN ) and split rings from Worth in size no . 5 . While the stock hooks work just fine for 90 + percent of the fish you catch , they won ’ t for that fish of a lifetime . In addition to these changes , I add a trick worm to the tail treble hook . Be sure to put it on the center most of the three hooks , threading it on only a quarter inch or so . Remember to always make sure your lures are running straight with a tight wiggle . Watch the lure beside the boat at trolling speed before dropping them back into position . In closing , remember a few things . First , conserve all our fisheries . Only take what you will eat , then catch and release the rest . Second , when you are trolling , it ’ s just like driving in a car , stay to the right when approaching another boat . Finally , take a kid fishing ! We have to get the next generation involved . Otherwise , in the not so distant future there won ’ t be a Delta to fish in ! If you ’ d like to spend a day on the water chasing stripers or sturgeon with Captain David Hammond of Delta Pro Fishing give him a call at ( 916 ) 479-3492 .