Bringing freshwater from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and waterways of Northern California to the drier areas of Southern California, the California Aqueduct is a 293-mile, man-made river that is a prime habitat for a number of fish. Bluegill, largemouth bass and crappie are plentiful in the aqueduct, but it is the striped bass, carp and catfish that bring out the fishermen, as these species provide the best edible flesh. Fishing is legal in the aqueduct, and fishermen have staked out spots along its concrete banks for both day and night fly-fishing.
Although native to the Atlantic Coast of North America, striped bass have been introduced into waterways around the world. In the California Aqueduct, striped bass makes up the most popular sport fish and grows to up to 30 pounds or more. Striped bass is relatively easy to catch because it goes after a wide variety of bait and breeds plentifully in landlocked waters. Striped bass can be fished day and night, although it is more plentiful during the summer season, when the water levels are high from mountain snow runoff.
Sucked into the California Aqueduct from the California Delta by the pumping station at Clifton Court Forebay, catfish thrive and do well in their new environment, growing up to 20 pounds or more. Catfish are bottom feeders, meaning they are easier to catch when the water in the aqueduct is lower, making them easier to access and diminishing the sometimes strong current of the aqueduct in full tilt.
Carp is an oily white-fleshed fish that jumps out of the water on a regular basis when it prepares to dive to the bottom in search of food, making it easy to determine if you have some on hand. Carp like sweet corn, which is usually put right on the hook and dropped to the bottom of the water source where the fish feeds. In the California Aqueduct, carp gets up to 20 pounds and is easier to catch at lower water levels, like the catfish.
Both largemouth bass and crappie are also fished in the California Aqueduct by anglers, although they are not as common and do not grow as big as the other, more popular, species. Bluegill is also found in the aqueduct and is a popular game fish that is often used as bait for bigger fish like catfish and bass.
Based in San Francisco, Ocean Malandra is a travel writer, author and documentary filmmaker. He runs a major San Francisco travel website, is widely published in both online and print publications and has contributed to several travel guidebooks to South America.