I’ve had several people ask me to share some tips and techniques for fishing the aqueduct and while I have to admit that I’m still a newbie when it comes to duct fishing I have a great teacher and I am learning more and more each time I go.
First off let me be straight up with you, California Aqueduct Fishing can flat out be a pain in the butt to catch fish out of. When I first started fishing the duct I thought the stripers there would be the ones in some of our lakes, Pyramid by Gorman, Castaic, Silverwood or Diamond Valley but trust me, they are not the same. The only thing predictable about the duct stripers is they are very unpredictable.
I’ve fished the Antelope Valley area, Lancaster and Palmdale quite a few times over the past couple years and I’ve hit the Bakersfield area duct maybe 5 times. To this day I have only hooked into 2 stripers and 1 catfish. Of the 2 stripers I hooked, both in the AV area, one came unbuttoned as I was fighting it and the other one I fought until it was wore out, started to drag it up the side and about ¾ of the was up it came unbuttoned, slid back into the water and swam away. My fishing buddies say that it counts as a duct striper skunk killer because I fought him until he wore out but I have always felt that if I don’t actually touch the fish with my hands it don’t count.
On my last 6 or 7 duct trips I’ve been fishing with a friend that has been fishing the duct for over 25 years and he has caught a ton of fish out of it. Then again he lives about 7 minutes from it and we all know that the more time you spend fishing the more fish your going to catch. He has shared spots, lures and techniques with me so I know I’m doing the right things, I just haven’t been in the right spots at the right time. Bottom line, the duct has become my albatross so I keep going back because I’ve seen some very nice fish come out of it and my friends have gave me fresh striper fillets and I must say that they are some of the tastiest fish I have ever had.
As to duct fishing locations, there are many fishing locations, to get a better ideal of where they are and how to get to them try using Google Maps, Google Earth or Bing Maps, formerly known as Microsoft Maps to view them. First I’ll start off talking about the Antelope Valley area. Because I’m coming from up north I personally like to start at the west end of the Antelope Valley and work my way east. I head south down the 14 past Mojave and go to Ave D, which is the 138, and take it west towards Gorman. About 30 miles down the 138 you’ll see Quail lake which is part of the duct system. After there turn around and head east on the 138 to 280th West, then to Three Points Road. Continue east on the 138 and just before you cross the duct make a right turn on 245th West which turns into Lancaster road. A little ways down the road you cross the duct, stop and fish there. Follow the road to 195th West, Muntz Ranch Road, 110th West, 70th West, 60th West, Ave S, Tierra Subida, Sierra Hwy, Pearblossom, Barrel Springs, 42nd East, 47th East, Cheseboro and 72nd east. There are more spots further east but that’s all the further I have fished. By the way, most areas will have no trespassing signs, but will have a entrance and sign stating walk in fishing only.
Next you have the Bakersfield area From I-5 by Gorman go over the hill towards Bakersfield. From there one can hit up SR166 and all the dirt farm roads, SR166, Old River Rd., Basic School Rd., 33 to Cadet Rd., Gardener Field, Golf Course Rd., Ironbark, SR119, Tupman, Freeborn, Buttonwillow, SR58, Lokern, 7th standard, Lerdo Hwy, Lost Hills Rd., SR46. There are a ton more spots to fish and just like the AV spots I mentioned they cal all be found by using Google Maps, Google Earth or Bing Maps, formerly known as Microsoft Maps.
As to tackle, just about everything you’ll need is available at Tackle Warehouse or Bass Tackle Depot. Both places offer free shipping for orders over $50.00 as well as some of the lowest prices anywhere.
I suggest you carry 2 or 3 setups with different kinds of lures attached. Pound test line is what you feel comfortable with. I use anywhere from 8 to 15 depending on the application as do my buddies I fish with that live in the AV but there are plenty of people that use heavier line with success. Monofilament, copolymer, fluorocarbon or braid, the choice is yours. Just be sure to use a quality line because since the bites can be few you don’t want to break off due to bad line. Quality Fishing Lines
For lures some of the most popular/effective ones are as follows.
Lately my buddy Yolo, that’s his online name, has been using what he calls the Yolo Tickler with great success. I suggest the pearl, pearl with silver flake and Blue Back Herring in 6 inch. Don’t be afraid to give the 8 inch version a try as well. Rig this with an internal weight.
Next are 1/2 to 1 1/2 oz Rat-L-Trap style lures.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of the KPN shad but its one effective striper lure.
Then of course you cant go wrong with a Lucky Craft VR D in American Shad
And of course your basic Rattle Trap
Next the Lucky Craft Pointer, a popular color is once again the American Shad
On swimbaits, I have not heard of a lot of people using the bigger ones but I know of people that have had luck on Small Swimbaits and Bass Swimbaits, not to say that a big perch looking swimbait or even Trout ones wont work. Could be that the people using them successfully are being tight lipped.
Of course match the weight of the lure with the conditions, faster flow equals more weight needed to get into the target zone. You can cast up-flow and retrieve the lure with the current, cast directly across and retrieve through the current, or cast down flow and work it back against the current or anywhere in between. Try fishing the different water columns, deep, mid and shallow until you get bit.
When fishing a spot I like to start out working the back side of the gates where the water is rushing out because the stripers usually like to feed in turbulent water, if they are not there then work your way down to bends in the duct. Also don’t forget to give the front side of the gates a try.
For catfish, some people prefer to do the bait and wait technique but the most effective technique is to use a spinning reel with 8-10 pound test. Tie on a 1/0 circle hook and get yourself some chicken liver. Using little to no weight, cast upstream and walk along the shore line letting it drift along.
The best tip I can give you for fishing the duct is to work an area for 20-30 minutes and if you don’t get any biters or followers move on to the next spot. It’s a matter of finding them and if they are there at that time, they will bite.
The most important thing to remember is to be safe. The sides of the duct can be slick and you don’t want to slip and fall in. In the event you do end up in the drink, DON’T PANICK. While the sides are slick and next to impossible to climb up, along the sides of it you will see yellow paint. The paint signifies that there is a metal ladder there. Trust me, it does not matter how good of a swimmer you are, its next to impossible to swim up stream so let yourself drift down stream to the ladder and climb out.
There you go, all my secrets exposed but like I said earlier the biggest trick is finding them. The aqueduct is a 715 mile long cement river that stretches from way up north to way down south so there are lots of places for them to roam. As Yolo has told me more than once, persistence will pay off.
Thanks for visiting my site. Be sure to tell all of your fishing buddies and come back soon.
Until Next Time, Good Luck and Tight Lines To Ya!