Fishing the California delta

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Tom

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Folks traveling to or through the California delta area may not be aware of the extensive fishing opportunities available in this area. The indigenous fish population includes striped bass (aka stripers), black bass, catfish, sturgeon, crappie, bluegill and salmon. Of course, there are seasons for each species, determined by a combination of state DFG regulations and fish feeding & spawning habits. e.g. October/November the sturgeon head down into San Francisco bay for the herring spawn and salmon run up the Sacramento river late summer to spawn.

There are numerous campgrounds located around the delta with easy shore access to the rivers and/or sloughs. If you tow a boat behind your RV, some campgrounds have their own launch ramps, while most others are within easy reach of public or private launch ramps. There's also Brannan Island State Park, located on CA Highway 160, with access for shore fishing and a very good boat launching facility in addition to boat slips if you wish to keep the boat in the water overnight. We've launched a boat with our motorhome at this SP more times than I can count.

Some folks drive their RV or car along one of the many levy roads around the delta, find a place to pull over, and break out their fishing pole.

Unsure what or where 'the California delta' is? Click here for an explanation. You can buy an inexpensive map of the CA delta area or one of a few excellent books on the area from Hal Schell Publications or many local tackle shops and marinas.

A California state fishing license is required and these are available at bait/tackle shops and sporting goods stores, in addition to WalMart, KMart and drug stores along with copies of the current fishing regulations.
 

FX

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Tom-
Not to scare anyone away from the Dela fishing, but what about the poluted waters?  At what point of the Delta will you NOT eat the fish?  I now the areas that run into downtown Stockton are actually posted with signs telling people not to eat the fish. 
My thinking is (not really knowing what I'm talking about) if I am out a couple of miles west of Stockton, where there is a current for the high/low tides, then the fish should be ok to eat.  I figure that way at least the water is changing and not stagnated. 
 

Tom

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I haven't seen those caution signs, although I haven't been downtown Stockton for a while. I suspect you might be talking about the ship turning basin, which is downtown at the end of the Stockton deep water channel. It's also up river from where the San Joaquin river meets the deep water channel. I'm wondering if the warning is intended to apply only to that area. Of course, even the turning basin is tidal, but maybe they figure there's not enough flow in and out of there.

Much further down river near Antioch, around where the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers meet, is about the furthest upstream that there's any salinity. The further down river you go from there, the more salt you encounter. Typically, stripers on their incoming run will hold in and around Sherman Lake (near Antioch) for several weeks to de-salinate before moving further upriver.

I'd be more concerned with eating Delta catfish than stripers, because catfish are bottom eaters, which is where any heavy metals are likely to accumulate.

Personally, I don't eat the fish I catch. I try my best to return them to water unharmed so they'll grow and be caught by someone else.
 

FX

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I don't recall any signs near the turning basin.  I was talking more in the area where that one branch goes right into downtown Stockton.  Bewteen Weber and Fremont, in case you're familiar with the roads here.  A lot of huge fish are caught in that turning basin area.  The fishing report (wednesday paper) out of the Stockton Record a month back said a guy caught a keeper sturgeon there from the bank.  It was an amazing bit because if I remember right, he had a little flimzy pole and I think 8 lb line!
 

Tom

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FX said:
I was talking more in the area where that one branch goes right into downtown Stockton. Bewteen Weber and Fremont

That's the area I was thinking of. I guess it's after the turning basin. It's been a while since I was there.
 

FX

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Robert-That is the exact area I'm talking about.  The city has actually employed a tug boat to drive that little 1/8 mile section to churn the water.  At times it gets so bad it's bright green!  Doesn't stop people from fishing there though.
 

Tom

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FX said:
At times it gets so bad it's bright green!

FX, that bright green is probably nothing more than algae which you'll see when the water temperature rises high enough. You'll see it in many areas that are out of the direct current flow, but it doesn't necessarily mean the water is "polluted". It's the same stuff you'll see in a swimming pool if the owner doesn't keep the chlorine level high enough. When the water temperature drops a few degrees, the algae die off.
 

FX

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Well whatever it is, the city does not want it there.  Just on the north side of the waterfront there, there is a huge redevelopment project going in.  A stadium, ballpark, mall, 7 floor parking garage...
 

caltex

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I left my boat in that area for a month several years ago (during the summer hot weather).  When I tried to leave, there was so much algae attached to the bottom I couldn't get on plane.  It was about six inches thick on the bottom.  Yes, Stockton is really getting the waterfrond development going after talking about it for many years.
 
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