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Event Article

Fishing Swimbaits for Delta Stripers with Professional Angler Kenny Schmitt


Date: 10/06/09
Location: California Delta
Event Date: 9/12/09
Reviewer: Zander

The California Delta has long been known as an exceptional striped bass fishery and is frequented by both conventional anglers and fly fishermen hoping to boat a monster. Armed with a full load of swimbaits we head out with Professional Angler Kenny Schmitt in some challenging conditions to see just how good the fishery is shaping up to be this season.


With rain and lightning in the distance we get started on the Delta

The Background: Kenny Schmitt has been fishing professionally for years and is currently on the Powell Rods Pro-Staff. He calls the Delta his home water and has logged countless hours fishing for largemouth but unlike many other professional anglers is equally as enthusiastic about pursuing giant striped bass. He has landed Delta stripers just shy of 50 pounds on numerous occasions and specializes in targeting them with an array of swimbaits. So passionate is Kenny about catching stripers that he even admits to taking out moments during tournaments to pull out the Lunker Punker and target striped bass.

Kenny gets the skunk off the boat early with a Punker fish

Jonah Li the owner of Hiís Tackle Box arranged the trip, and it was decided that we would meet up with Kenny at the Delta to fish for Stripers for a full day. Jonah and his son Eduardo would follow us in their bass boat. Reports from earlier in the week were mixed, but this year coastal surf fishermen have been catching record numbers of quality striped bass., and many of them have started making their annual migration back into the delta system. We hoped to intercept these fish as they moved up the river.

The clouds start rolling back in and Cal puts down his rod...

The Stripers found on the Pacific Coast and Delta were originally introduced in the late 1800ís and are originally native to the Atlantic coastline from the St. Lawrence River down to the Gulf. In total there were less than five hundred striped bass introduced between 1879 and 1882 but by 1900 the striped bass had become so successful here in the Delta that the commercial catch alone was exceeding a million pounds a year!

...and within minutes the sky turned dark and our rods started buzzing!

There are many bodies of water where Striped Bass have been successfully introduced, and while some are landlocked in lakes, the California Delta allows fish to run freely from the Pacific Ocean through the Bay and up the river system. This is one of the reasons why the Delta is known for having such large striped bass and such a big quantity of them

After the storm clouds clear Cal and Kenny get back to fishing with a rainbow in the distance

Today, a combination of many factors including overfishing, the construction of the California Aqueduct and declining water levels all have impacted the fishery. It was reported that seventy years ago the population was in the many millions, and recent numbers are well under a million adult fish. Just imagine what it would have been like if you had a swimbait and were fishing for stripers back in the heyday. Proper management and catch and release practices observed by many anglers have helped the stripers rebound. But enough history, time to go fishing!

Cal lands a nice fish

Time to go fishing, a little lightning anyone?









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