How to Catch Catfish in the California Delta

How to Catch Catfish in the California Delta

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The California Delta is located in the northern part of the golden state. This area is also known as The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The delta is also home to many varieties of fish. A few species of catfish are particularly prevalent in the delta area. Catching catfish here can be a challenging yet peaceful experience and the best times to catch catfish are in the spring or fall. If you utilize the correct methods and types of bait you can expect to fill up your stringer in no time.

Items you will need

  • Bait

  • Hooks

  • Surf leader

  • 1 oz. weights

Find a good location along the delta. Catfish can be found in all areas including along Little Mandeville Island. Stop and speak to area bait shops if you have difficulty finding a good catfishing hole. Look for areas with rocks or fallen or dead trees since catfish like to congregate there.

Purchase bait at one of the many local delta bait shops. According to delta fishing expert Dan Mathisen of, effective catfish bait includes livers, clams and anchovies. Dan also recommends using dead mice and worms. You can see why you may want to wait until you get to the delta to purchase your bait.

Prepare your fishing rod by spooling the line. Dan Mathisen suggests using a "sliding sinker" setup to ensure your bait stays on the bottom of the water. Utilize a 1-oz. weight and clip it to the bottom of a two-looped surf leader.

Carefully grab the loops on your hooks, place them through those on the surf leader. Pull it through firmly enough to form a knot with the surf leader loop. Repeat this for the other loop.

Bait your hook and allow your line to sink down to the river floor. Once at the bottom, reel in your line just enough to create some tension. Relax, wait for a bite and prepare to have a full stringer of California Delta catfish by day's end.

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