This quote by Charles Waterman sums up the challenge facing fishermen on California’s Delta “Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.”

One Thing Makes California’s Delta One of the Best Fisheries

The Delta is unique due to 1,100 square miles of sloughs filled with small reed islands. The islands have large hyacinth matts and shallow flats filled with hydrilla providing excellent cover for bass. There are deep water channels with steep bluffs offering a runway for striped bass and salmon.

kayak angler stands up and reels while fishing the California Delta
Pick out the best parts of the California Delta. | Photo: Jonathon Tran

The diversity makes this one of the best fisheries. A diverse fishery requires diverse tactics, anglers can expect to employ topwater frogs, finesse fishing and flipping jigs.

The fishing is great, but not without challenges. Be prepared to face high winds and strong current. To avoid these demons, I hide my kayak in a pocket in the reeds. The high reeds cause another problem, poor visibility. Watch out for boats.

The best thing about the Delta is fishing is good day or night. California’s Delta offers a variety of big bass structure calling for a variety of tactics. Choosing how to fish is easy, but picking out a place to fish is the big challenge.

The guides at Delta Kayak Adventures rent kayaks and know the best locations and tactics.
Thornton Road Bait & Tackle opens at 5 a.m. with a good selection on live and frozen baits.
Wimpy’s on the Delta offers convenient camping with power and water for RVs. The launch ramp provides access to the best fishing. Eat all three meals at the café and you won’t be hungry.

What’s biting

The Delta is a sure bet for famous California bass, double-digit fish are a regular catch. Bluegill and green sunfish are huge, too. Look for slabs larger than your hand.


March to November is the best time to target black bass. Choose a calm day, with a running tide. The fish like moving current.

Rigged Up

Frog: Dobyns Sierra 705 and Shimano Curado 200K with a River2Sea Spittin’ Wa Yellow Head frog

Finesse: Dobyns Sierra 682 and Shimano Stradic C14 spooled with 30-pound, moss-green PowerPro braid and three feet of 12-pound Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon. At the business end, a VMC weedless wacky hook gets a Yamamoto watermelon red flake. Use a rubber band and VMC’s wacky tool to keep the soft plastic on the hook.

Dobyns Sierra 766 and Shimano Curado 200HG filled with 40-pound braid tied directly to a VMC heavy-duty flippin’ hook attached to an ounce-and-a-half tungsten weight. The skirt should match the color of the Reaction Sweet Beaver trailer.

Kayak Gear

An orange safety flag with a 360-degree light to stay visible during the day and night. Add a stakeout pole for fishing the shallows.

Game Plan

One of the favorite spots to launch is Paradise Point. Start in the dark surrounded by shadows and the sound of baitfish jumping. Cast a frog to the reed line until the sun comes up. Then switch to a finesse presentation, pitching to holes in the reeds and let the wacky rig sink slowly.

Pay attention to the line, sneaky bass will slowly swim away with the lure. With the sun high in the sky, and the heat on, the fish will go for shady cover. Switch to flipping a jig in the hyacinth. Cast the lure high and let it punch into the vegetation. When a bass bites, set the hook hard and reel fast to keep the fish out of the cover.

More Information

Cover of the Winter 2020 issue of Kayak Angler MagazineThis article was first published in the Winter 2020 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Pick out the best parts of the California Delta. | Feature photo: Jonathon Tran



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