The great striper bite is on

By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
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After weeks and weeks of nothing to talk about, fishing is really starting to heat up across the North State. From the salt to inland lakes and rivers, there’s a little something for everyone right now.
Ocean Salmon
Starting with the big salmon opener in the ocean last weekend, there was some good and bad news. Overall, the weather’s been the pits offshore and boats from Monterey and Santa Cruz really have been the only ones so far to get a good crack at the fish.
Down in Monterey Bay, there are lots of fish being caught, but the majority of them are shakers — next year’s models. While that’s not the best news for the time being, it bodes extremely well for the future — especially when you consider boats have been hooking as many as 20 shorts a day.
There are also some keepers in the mix and fishing is generally decent — which is a whole lot better than closed! Straight out of Moss Landing, the Soquel Hole and the Canyon edges have been the top spots for trollers dragging herring, small sardines and anchovies with flashers. Moochers have also been hitting a few fish. It’s early yet, so the jury’s still out on what’s really out in the ocean. The river seasons, by the way, will be announced soon…
Valley Stripers
What a difference a few days makes! I made my initial striper scouting mission on the Feather four days ago and didn’t get a bite… didn’t see a fish, caught… nada.
Well, I went again yesterday and ended up with 70-ish fish! So, just like a light switch being thrown, the action is wide open for anglers drifting live minnows and tossing lures. The fish were mainly schoolie-sized males up to about 6-7 pounds, but the big girls should start poking around here soon too. I start guiding today and will be at it through May, so if you’d like to chase stripers (or do a striper/shad combo) this spring, give me a call ASAP! (916) 388-1956.
Bass, Bass & more Bass
My buddies who live over at Clear Lake reported the most wide-open swimbait bite they’d ever seen on big largemouth this week. Guys I know were heading out and catching 50 fish a day and then going back out in the evenings and getting another 20 fish. Crazy good!
Speaking of largemouth, Lake Berryessa has also been pumping out some jumbos of late and a tournament fishing friend of mine ended up with a five-fish limit this week that weighed over 30 pounds. Don’t know about you, but I’ll take a 6-pound average all day long!
Lake Shasta’s bass bite was just turning on a week or two back but then the rains hit again and releases from the dam were jacked way up. With the lake nearing full pool and lots of snowmelt yet to come, they’ve been dropping the lake 2 feet a day to make room — and that’s put the bass into a bit of a funk. Still, longtime Shasta guru, Scott Green, busted some jumbo spotted bass this week — including one that was just a hair under nine pounds!
Once this last little shot of funky weather moves through, things in most areas should stabilize and that means look for plenty of good fishing opportunities just over the horizon!
J.D. Richey is a 1986 Placer High graduate whose outdoors pieces have been published nationally. Find him online at