Best Bait For Striped Bass In California (Everything You Need To Know)!!!

Striped bass are the big game fish, also known as anadromous fish as they migrate from the freshwater to the ocean and then again get back to the freshwater to spawn. That’s interesting, huh?

Well, fishing striped bass in the reservoirs along California can be quite thrilling for avid anglers, as they grow gigantic in size, are strong, and thus can give you a great fight. They are also a highly sought-after fish to make incredible fish tacos. That’s delicious!

Most interestingly, there was no striped bass in California, they were first introduced from the east coast in the 1870s, and within a decade they had thrived enough to support commercial fishing.

Best Bait For Striped Bass In California
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One thing to note: The main areas loaded up with stripers are the San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento, San Joaquin River Delta, as well as the larger tributary rivers downstream from dams. In the Russian River and Tomales Bay, there are also some limited fisheries.

Now that you’ve come to know the short history of striped bass and why they are so popular among the fishers. 

Let’s Get To Know About The Best Baits To Catch Stripers In California:

Well, striped bass mainly hunts for smaller fish species as they are predatory feeders. 

Though they take a wide variety of bait, some of the best ones they love are live minnows, anchovies, sardines, threadfin shad (split and folded so the flesh is pointing out), live eels, bunker, herring. 

These bait types will entice any larger stripers to eat. However, cut pieces of fresh or frozen fish will also be go-to baits for stripers of all sizes. 

On the other hand, crabs, squid, live shrimp, sand fleas, and clams work especially well for smaller stripers.

Keep in mind that, stripers respond well to both bait fishing and trolling in California. 

Now, Threadfin shad are more likely the most popular bait in the Delta. Anchovies, Sardines, live small fish such as shiner perch, mackerel, pile worms, and bloodworms are also common baits in the Delta area. 

Additionally, Delta stripers are fond of jacksmelts and split tails for bait. You are most probably going to catch massive ones by using these. 

Jacksmelts are found in the bay and can easily be caught with small lures and spoons. And, in San Francisco Bay, drifting with striped bass live baits such as anchovies and shiner perch is ideal. 

Apart from that, bullheads or Sculpins, as well as mudsuckers or oriental gobies, are often seen to be used in Suisun bays and San Pablo. 

Some anglers explained that dead bullheads also work quite effectively as long as they retain the slime on their skin. 


Trolling is a specialized method of catching stripers and that’s why it’s recommended to observe how this fishing method is done before you go for it for the very first time. 

A variety of spoons, jigs, and plugs are often used in double combinations while catching fish by trolling which does the trick for striped bass. 

Remember, artificial baits are used less frequently on the piers as they tend to be less effective. 

Be sure to use larger baits so you can avoid the small stripers at the Antioch piers. And, in this case, live bluegills and Sacramento squawfish will fit the bill well.

Different types of worms can also make great baits for stripers. Though Stripers love to hit worms, smaller fish are caught with worms most of the time.

When To Fish For Striped Bass In California?

Striped bass can be caught in each season in various regions of the river systems and deltas. If you want to follow the migration patterns of anadromous stripers, then you will have to start during winter. 

In this time, Stripers tend to enter the Bay and Delta areas from the pacific, and then head towards the inland to take preparation for the spawning run. That’s exactly why winter is the best time for striped bass fishing in these tidal areas.

Remember, colder water slows these fish down and causes them to group up. Though the fish that are bigger in size are more prone to moving into the shallower waters. The rest prefer to stick around in 20-30 ft of water. 

You can also try out surf fishing during summertime, because, at this time, they love moving up and down the coast.

In the fall season, Stripers move again into the lower delta areas and like to cruise the flats. Avid anglers who are up for fishing epic striped bass in California can choose lakes that are abundant in Central, Northern, and Southern California. 

While going to visit these areas for the first time, you can also choose to take assistance from the fishing guides to find out the best fishing spots out there.

Plus, bear in mind that, if you want to go night fishing in the Sacramento river with artificial bait, it will be quite a big challenge and a great source of fun as well. Though Spring is the best time for fishing bass in this river, do not worry! In October, there’s also a good chance.

In the Sacramento River, you can find 3 to 7-pound stripers, which will offer you pure white meat that is awesome if grilled.

Some extra tips to  follow:

  • Since striped bass don’t like bright light, during the day. So, make sure you’re fishing in the shady spots or areas like docks, overpasses, bridges, and piers.
  • Estuaries and harbor entrances near the jetty ends are also ideal.
  • The best time for fishing is 2 hours before and after high tide. The stripers also search for their prey during sunrise, sunset, and night.
  • Always remember to check out the fishing rules and regulations in California before you head out for fishing. Now, pack your fishing bag and boat, and go chase down your desired trophy, the crafty striped bass. 
  • When you reel the stripers in, they will fight heart and soul to beat you. As they are so strong and aggressive, so prepare for the fight. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is the legal size for striped bass in California?

Recreational fishing for striped bass is open throughout the year in California. But, the daily possession limit is two fish and the fish should be at least 18 inches in length.

Where can I catch striped bass in Southern California?

Stripers are indigenous to salt waters, therefore Southern California is a sought-after area to catch’em. Southern CA comes with plenty of spots to catch striped bass, such as Canyon Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Elsinore, Lake Hemet, Castaic Lake, Lake Cahuilla, Silverwood Lake, Pyramid Lake, Lake Havasu, Lake Perris, and Skinner Reservoir.

More striped bass related article at outdoorboat

How to Catch Striped Bass from Shore?

Striped Bass Rigs for Pier Fishing

Best Striper Rig for River Fishing

Are Striped Bass Good to Eat – 13 Fascinating Facts about Striped Bass

Best Striper Rig for River Fishing

Final Words:

Well, that’s all there is to it, people. Hopefully, you’ve got a skinny on the best baits for fishing stripers in California with ease. Thanks for putting lots of effort and time into going through the whole write-up till the very end. Have a nice day and happy fishing!!!

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