Getting Baited Up For Fall Striper Fishing

Written By: Bill Adelman, October 8, 2012

The stripers are here, albeit a tad scattered. Fall is “THE” time to fish for stripers in the upper bay and delta area. Montezuma Slough is a weak choice so far this year, as the fish appear to be in the more open bay, ie: the middle grounds and/or the Ryer Island area. 

The number one technique will be bait fishing, and fortunately, there are many baits and techniques that will produce. As with any fishery, there are many approaches to success. Learning these techniques often takes a few years, so try fishing with someone who has already perfected their approaches, or as most of us have done…trial and error. 

However, ya still gotta get out there and git-er-done. If this column helps, wow, how bout that too?

 Rods should be medium action, say a 12-17 or 12-20 pound blanks, 7-8 feet in length. The reel choices are many, but of utmost importance is a solid drag system and a clicker. 

My preference was always the Ambassadeur line, but many others are just as reliable, such as those from Shimano, Daiwa or Penn. 

Give some thought to 15-17 pound test line, such as P-Line, Berkley Big Game, Stren or Maxima in monofilament. The non stretch braid lines also have a place when bait fishing for linesides. About the only not necessary line is fluorocarbon. The waters in question are never clear enough to justify fluoro.

Even though the amount of tackle needed is not extensive, it is necessary. The dollar and pyramid type sinkers are a must. Use of which style is dictated by water flow, depth and tidal movement. Thus, you’ll need weights from 1-8 ounces. 

Quality sliders are a must. The old swivel on the line often fails as it snags on itself far too often. Leader choice is pretty much subjective, and should be in the 15-20 pound range. Pick up some plastic beads, color immaterial. 

Hook types will differ as well, again depending on technique utilized. Get some Octopus, straight eye bait and circle hooks. Look towards sizes from 4/0 to 8/0. Finally, you’ll need some Magic Thread and a sharp fillet knife for the bait, not the striper. 

Bait. Anchovies, threadfin shad, bullheads, mudsuckers, grass or ghost shrimp and even sardines will produce, although sardines seem to work better in the Spring. 

Should you attempt to catch bullheads with grass shrimp, you’ll need a way to keep them alive. If fishing them dead, one technique is to cut off the head and fish them with an O’Shaughnessy double hook. Push the hook shank through the center of the bait starting at the head Attach the hook to the leader with a clip or Palomar knot and snug the tail in place on the leader with a half hitch. 

If fishing them whole, dead or alive, cut off the horns. Shad can also be fished whole or with the head removed. Using the fillet method works exceptionally well. 

Fillet the whole bait from the gill plate back towards the tail, but do not remove it. Fold the fillet back, spin it 180 degrees and double hook with an Octopus style hook. Then douse it with scent. 

Should you want to try anchovies, one method is to cut off the head, cut it up the belly to the tail, open it up and use the knife tip to pry out the backbone. Using the straight eye hook, turn the bait inside out and place it over the hook shank, skin to skin, head at the hook end. Starting at the tail, wrap with magic thread all the way forward and back to the tail. Again, scent. Depending on the size of a sardine, this approach works just as well.

Mudsuckers can also be fished whole or with the head removed. Should you have live mudsuckers available, try the circle hook just pushed through the nose. Grass shrimp is just piled on a bait hook and muds are threaded and tied with thread. 

When fishing a circle hook, just lift the rod when a grab is obvious, but DO NOT set the hook. Rather just slightly lift the rod when you feel resistance and start reeling. The hook will set itself.

Use just enough sinker to hold the bottom. The pyramid type is necessary in a fast moving tide as it grasps the bottom and holds much better than a dollar style when tied to the flat bottom, not the pointy end. Place a bead on the terminal line, then the slider and another bead and tie on a heavy clip. The leader should be about 2-3 feet in length. 

Match the hook to the bait. It’s a good idea to try different baits when you have more than one rod available. As the tide speeds up or slows down, it will be necessary to adjust to the appropriate style and size of the sinker. On the complete slack tide, try tossing out a bait with no sinker and fishing it on a slack line. 

The reason for a clicker on the reel is to detect a pickup. The best plan is to balance the rod, but the old fashioned rod holder will work. Toss out your bait and do not lock the spool, rather use just the clicker. It is strong enough to prevent the water movement from pulling out line. When the current becomes too strong to accomplish this, move.

When a striper or sturgeon picks up the bait and moves away, the clicker will alert the dozing angler that something is up. Pick up the rod but do not lock down the spool until you are sure the fish has taken hold and is ready to be hooked. Point the rod towards the fish, lock down the spool and as soon as you feel positive weight, slam it home. Fish on. 

Feather River steelhead are on the move towards Oroville. Fishing the sandbars below the mouth will catch a few fish. Fresh salmon roe is the hot ticket, tied in the normal manner. 

Anchor up and just toss the roe out to the side and allow it to swing in about 6-10 feet of water. Running a Hot Shot just off the outside of the sandbar will also bang a few fish. This is normally an October - November fishery. 

 Next time we'll take a gander at upriver steelhead fishing. Seeya then and Tight Lines !!!

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