California Striped Bass Fishing

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Follow this link to see a photo of a 87 Pound Striped Bass caught in California.

San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay
Courtesy of US
Geological Service

Link to larger image

California Striped Bass


In 1879, 132 fingerling striped bass were introduced into the San Francisco Bay, after surviving a long train ride across the US from the Navesink River in NJ. These did well, and an additional 300 fingerling made the same train ride three years later.

The fish prospered, as the San Francisco Bay is a large estuary incorporating an extensive delta which is formed where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers empty into the Bay.

By 1889 striped bass were being caught in sufficient numbers that a commercial fishery began. The commercial fishery was later determined to be detrimental to the maintenance of a strong recreational sport fishery. Commercial fishing was stopped in 1935 when the striped bass was declared to be a game fish.

Early San Francisco Bay Striped Bass

Early San Francisco Bay Stripers

Most Pacific stripers spend summers feeding on anchovies in the ocean along the Pacific Coast. Many wander along the coast. Significant populations of striped bass have developed in Oregon; particularly in Coos Bay and the Umpaqua River.

Where the Stripers Are

Along the California Coast most stripers
re-enter the San Francisco Bay in fall and winter, and locate throughout the Bay and delta system. In spring the stripers head up the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers to spawn. They travel as much as 124 miles upstream in the Sacramento River and also go into the Feather River.

Some of the best striper fishing is found in the Sacremento River south of Butte City between the towns of Knights Landing and Colusa.

In the delta region, the water is mildly salty where the river and bay waters mix. Striped bass linger there, adjusting to the difference in salinity before they transit up the rivers to spawn, and again when they return to the Bay.

Some stripers inhabit the San Francisco Bay area year round. Many stripers, however, head back to the Pacific Ocean after spawning in the spring.

In the summer striped bass head north along the California coast to beyound Point Reyes and as far south as Montery Bay. Surf fishermen fish for them along the California beaches during the summer months.
See: Surf Fishing for Striped Bass in California.


 Record Freshwater Striped Bass

Hank Ferguson and his
record freshwater striped bass

A major threat to maintaining a large striper population in the Bay area is the significant number of freshwater diversion projects in the rivers. Increasing amounts of freshwater are being diverted to agricultural projects and the California Aqueduct System. Besides reducing the amount of freshwater available for spawning, the pumps associated with these projects often suck up striper larvae and fingerling stripers.

Surprisingly, some stripers survive their diversion, and even prosper. The current California sport record striped bass is a 67½ pound fish, caught by Hank Ferguson in O'Neill Forebay on May 7, 1992. In fact, many freshwater lakes and impoundments in California that are fed by the aqueduct system now contain significant populations of striped bass.

Hank Ferguson's striper is the previous world record freshwater striped bass.

On February 28th, 2013 James R. Bramlett caught a 69 pound 9 ounce landlocked striped bass and it became the new world record freshwater striped bass. Follow this link to see the new world record freshwater striped bass.

California Aqueduct Striper Video

To see a video of Striped Bass fishing in the California Aqueduct System follow this Link: Aqueduct Striped Bass Fishing

Fly Fishing the California Delta

A new book has recently come out about "Fly Fishing the California Delta." To see a description of this book follow this Link. Delta Fly Fishing Book


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