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Keys to Berryessa Bite, Striper Derby and Gun Shop Updates

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

What's New in the Shop?

Happy Holidays! We hope your week is going well.

Sweeney's Striper Derby is starting tomorrow. Woot, woot. We have 22 participants.

Please take a few minutes to read our official derby rules and pick up your numbered official measuring stick before heading out there. Best of luck!

Registrations are closed as of 6 pm today (Thursday, December 14th). The prize-money breakdowns are below.

Sweeney's Sports Holiday Hours.

The shop will be closing early on Sunday, December 17th due to our team holiday party. Please review our Holiday Hours below:

Sunday, December 17th: 7am-12pm

Friday, December 22nd: 9am-8pm

Satuday, December 23rd: 7am-8pm

Sunday, December 24th: 7am-2pm

Monday, December 25th: CLOSED

Sunday, December 31st 7am-2pm

Monday, January 1st CLOSED

Sweeney's Sports Striper Derby Update

We have 22 confirmed registrations. The pot will break down as follows.

-1st Place - $550

-2nd Place - $275

-3rd Place - $110

Three (3) $25 Sweeney's gift cards are to be raffled among all participants.

The winners will be contacted and announced on Tuesday, December 19th.

Please read and follow the rules.

Good Luck!

Is there a key to unlocking Berryessa's bite?

Outshad the shad. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo da Vinci.

Ever feel like you're stuck in a fishing game on "hard" mode at Lake Berryessa? Fish are everywhere on sonar, but your lures are just a sad, shiny buffet distraction. The shad schools are so abundant that all predators in the lake are gorging themselves in the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Big Nate with Big Nate's Guide Service has been the only one I know of who is stellar at figuring them out and willing to share his knowledge. But Big Nate is in the big leagues. He can sense them, tune in his setups, and take advantage of a very short bite window and limit out in minutes. His skills and knowledge are on a completely different level. But what about the rest of us?

Marlin, with Crappie Closet Lures, and I went on the mission-impossible trip yesterday to figure out Berryessa. Our target: crappie, but the lake had other plans. We ended up with a near hat-trick of 30+ catches once we cracked the code.

Live Bait Update

Oh boy. We got a lot of bait in today. Lots of live mudsuckers and bullheads are ready to help you win the Striper Derby, or just have fun fishing for Striper on the river.

While supplies last. Stock up early if you are fishing this weekend. If you need to brush up on best practices to keep your bait alive for 36 hours or more, watch this video.

- Live Grass Shrimp

- Live Bullheads/Mudsuckers

- Medium, Large, and XL Minnows

Fishing Reports

Lake Berryessa

This week's report is a fairly significant departure from our typical update. As such we posted it as a blog. Read it by following this link:

Napa River


Click here for the detailed video on Napa River Striper lures, bait, and tactics.

As the water gets colder we are having more luck experimenting with slowing down the trolling speeds

The Wild Thing deep-diving lure that we make here at Sweeny's is still the king of the hill. Followed closely by gold-colored Spro Akuru Shad and other mulity-colered Rat-L-Traps. You'll find a full variety on offer here at the shop. Experiment with trolling speeds of 2.5-4.5 GPS mph.

Keep changing lures until you get bit. Turn around and troll the same spot again. The fish are typically dialed in on something different every day. The weather, tides, water color, bait fish behavior, wind, pressure, lunar cycle, and a dozen other factors shift constantly. That's why we never get tired of fishing the river. It's an ever-evolving puzzle with an abundance of options and action.

Bank fishermen are doing well with live grass shrimp, pile worms, and frozen anchovies. Use the Magic Thread to keep your bait on the hook.


We are getting close to the Sturgeon season here on Napa River. As the water gets colder, they will push in from the bay to feed.

Use live Grass or Ghost Shrimp, Pile Worms, Salmon roe, or Eel threaded onto a barbless hook, wrapped with magic thread (twine), and terminated with a bait button.

It's important to keep your bait on the bottom with a 4-8 ounce pyramid sinker and, ideally, a weighted leader. We now make Custom Sturgeon Leaders here at the shop. Come and check them out. $5.99 apiece.

Gun Shop New Arrivals

Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 in Optifade Marsh, Timber, and RealTree Max 7 Left Hand.

Ruger Mini-14 in Black Synthetic and Wood Stock

Ruger 10/22 in Robins Egg Blue, Mannlicher Laminate Stock, Wood and Black Synthetic

KelTec KS7 Bullpup Shotgun in Black

As always,

We truly appreciate every time you walk through our doors. Thank you for choosing to spend your hard-earned dollars with us. It's a privilege to be of service.

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