Fishing the California Aqueduct: A Unique Angling Experience

Fishing the California Aqueduct: A Unique Angling Experience

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Imagine feeling your legs cramp up as you dash along the road, your body struggling to keep pace with the excitement rushing through your mind. Splash after splash, silverside minnows leap into the air, evading predators below. This is the exhilarating pursuit of striper boils along the California Aqueduct.

A Concrete River Meandering Through California

The California Aqueduct, managed by the Department of Water Resources, stretches a staggering 444 miles. Its journey begins near Tracy, winding its way down to the LA area. This colossal canal, varying in width and depth across its regions, originates from the California Delta.

Striped Bass: The Jewel of the Aqueduct

The California Aqueduct is a haven for anglers seeking striped bass. These fish reign as the most abundant species in these waters. However, black bass, catfish, carp, and various panfish species such as bluegills, crappie, perch, and redear also thrive within this vibrant ecosystem.


A Seasonal Playground

In late spring to early fall, the canal walls teem with silver side minnows, providing a plentiful food source for predatory fish. Sculpins, shad, and even delta smelt call this region their home.

Unexpected Surprises

Anglers have reported thrilling encounters with giant fish, only to discover that their catch is a sturgeon. Recently, a steelhead was caught and confirmed by two Department of Fish and Wildlife officers. The California Aqueduct is full of surprises, with fish growing to impressive proportions.

A Fishing Adventure with Easy Access

The California Aqueduct offers 16 designated fishing access points, granting anglers ample opportunities to cast their lines. Biking and fishing are permitted along most of this concrete river. Unfortunately, sections of the aqueduct have been closed off due to vandalism, theft, and littering. Anglers are urged to report suspicious activities and promote responsible fishing practices.

Best Spots to Begin

One popular starting point is the check gates. These automated gates regulate water flow through the aqueduct, creating disturbances that attract predatory fish. Additionally, grates, which serve as cutouts on the canal walls, concentrate baitfish and entice predators. Farmers primarily use grates for irrigational purposes.

Open Water: A Vast and Rewarding Territory

Although fishing open water can seem daunting with its extensive coverage, it can be one of the most productive areas to fish. Bends in the aqueduct and any changes in water flow provide excellent opportunities to locate fish. Weed edges and even sunken cars can serve as hiding spots for fish in this expansive waterway.

A Variety of Lures and Baits

When it comes to lures and baits, the California Aqueduct offers several options. Starting with cutbaits like anchovies, liver, or live minnows is a reliable choice, particularly during certain times of the year. However, if you prefer an active approach, casting jerkbaits such as SpeedLures, Duo Realis, or Luckycrafts can yield excellent results, especially in the early morning or late afternoon. In winter, stripers tend to inhabit deeper water; using deeper diving lures like Lipless SpeedLures, rattle traps, or flukes with a jig head can entice bites when bounced off the bottom.


Trolling Techniques and Planar Boards

A burgeoning technique gaining popularity is trolling along the California Aqueduct using a planar board. This method allows you to keep your lure in the strike zone for an extended stretch of water, making it an efficient way to search for fish and cover more ground.

An Unforgettable Experience Awaits

The sight of an entire stretch of water exploding with activity, the exhilaration of catching fish after fish in the middle of nowhere, and the stunning backdrop of the sun rising over the valley floor—these are experiences that cannot be fully captured in words alone. Fishing the California Aqueduct is an adventure that must be experienced firsthand. Who could have imagined that such a captivating angling destination could arise from a canal traversing the desert?

To start your own California Aqueduct fishing adventure, check out East Coast Paddle Sports, your go-to resource for all your fishing needs.

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