Fishing the California Delta

The California Delta, or the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is an expansive estuary in Northern California. The California Delta can be found on the western edge of California’s Central Valley, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet and flow into the San Pablo and San Francisco Bays. It’s basically the major drainage point from the snowy Sierra Nevada to the San Francisco Bay. The area of the California Delta spans about 1,100 square miles and includes 57 islands and tracts. It forms a triangle of waterways that connects Sacramento, Stockton, and Benicia.

There are some excellent black bass in the Delta, with many big bass tournaments held every year.

If you’re to visit California, know that your trip won’t be the same without a stop at the California Delta. The Delta’s islands are sparsely populated and therefore unmeasurably relaxing—it’s easy to find peace and quiet here. It’s truly a boater and fisherman’s dream come true. The Delta is formed by a mix of freshwater and saltwater, making it a lively, vibrant ecosystem. It’s home to over 750 plant and animal species, including ducks, geese, egrets, sandhill cranes, great blue herons, and of course, fish. In fact, 80% of California’s commercial fishery species live in or migrate through the Delta.


 California Delta Striper Fishing

Photo Source: Captain James Stone

What fish can you find in the Delta? A huge number of fish call the Delta home, including Striped Bass, Black Bass, Chinook salmon, bluegill, redear, bass, crappie, catfish, steelhead, and sturgeon. There’s also a good number of crustaceans—a crawdad festival is held each year in Isleton. Bullhead, channel, and white catfish are the most dependable catch in the Delta and can be caught year round, with summer months an especially prime time. You can find bluegill in quiet, weedy waters close to shore. In the spring, striped bass spawn and run up the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Sturgeon are prominent at the beginning of winter until early summer and hide in deep holes. There are some excellent black bass in the Delta, with many big bass tournaments held every year.


There are tons of locations to choose from in the California Delta. Because it’s such a large area, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the options. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of local companies that know everything there is to know about Delta fishing, and can take you to all the best under-the-radar nooks and crannies. For a safe, fun, and successful day of fishing, you can employ a charter or guide to clue you in to the best locations. With over 100 marinas, resorts, parks, and waterside restaurants, the Delta is a hot spot for anyone who likes to enjoy a day by or on the water. This unique fishery is packed with thousands of miles of fishable waterways and should surely be at the very top of any angler’s bucket list.

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