Two summer trips of 2007
August 28, 2007
One tough little sturgeon!
52″ 30 Lbs.
I read a very good report from Lucky Strike Charter about their catching five sturgeon on Saturday while fishing Suisun Bay. Five!? Suisun? In August? I don’t believe I’ve ever fished for sturgeon in August.
But I loaded up the boat for a two day jaunt downriver to Suisun Bay. I dug out some old, frozen lamprey I keep in the freezer for such occasions. That stuff has been sitting there the better part of a year, but I reckoned it would still attract a sturgeon. I launched at Brannan Island and arrived at my honey hole near Garnet Point about 75 minutes later. The trip was great! It was an unusual summertime day with little wind and the cruise downriver was over mostly calm waters.
I began fishing around noon and I waited ’til about 4 o’clock before I had a tender little sturgeon nibble. Tick-tick-tick went the reel. I grabbed the rod and waited for a second pick up. When the line slowly ticked off again, I slammed the hook home with all my might – and I was hooked solid! Something took off like a freight train, peeling line from the reel with wild abandon. I set the lever drag clear to the stop – and he still kept peeling off line. After about 30 yards or so, my sturgeon slowed and tried to rest. I then applied pressure to him and began working him to the boat. After about 10 or 15 minutes he was along side the boat, completely exhausted and spent. I was shocked! I thought I had a hundred pounder on by the way he fought, but he was a little guy. I measured him at 52″, well above the 46″ minimum. He weighed in at just 30 pounds.
The long slender sturgeon are males. They are generally stronger than the wider females and usually put up a better fight. This little guy was just amazingly strong for his size.
This is the first year of report cards and tags for us sturgeon fishermen here in California. I dutifully filled in my report card and one tag. I ripped the tag from the card and attached it to my catch to be legal. I have two tags left for the year. Somehow, since they now limit us to just three, I feel an obligation to catch my share.
I’ll be back out there again this year, looking for those other two sturgies!
New Hogan Stripers!
July 25-26, 2007
New Hogan Reservoir, an Army Corp of Engineers facility near Valley Springs, is one of three lakes in California where the statewide limit of two stripers is changed to ten. And the size limit of 18 inches is lifted. So any striper caught is a keeper.
The striper fishing there is as hard to figure as anywhere I’ve fished. Either that lake is on or it’s flat dead. I don’t know what turns it on and nobody I’ve talked to seems to have an answer, either. But this trip it was on – for a change.
I haven’t caught more than one fish there in over a year. Three years ago it was about my favorite fishing hole because it seemed to be on most times I tried. During one two day period that year my cousin and I reeled in 16 stripers. I reeled in 37 Hogan stripers that year!
The techniques are varied. Some folks simply toss bait in and catch fish. I’ve tried that and never caught one. Others simply sit in their boats and look for “boils” of stripers feasting on shad that they have chased to the surface. Boils are very exciting and can be heard and seen for a long distance. When a boil starts, the Boil chasers will fire up their engines and charge to the boil. Staying outside the churning water, they will toss lures into the frenzy and usually do quite well. The technique I use – and many others do, too – is to troll frozen sardines in a harness, making them roll as they move through the water. I usually troll 40′ deep on one side and 20′ deep on the other, using downriggers. The shallower sardine will be further back and if a striper can resist the deeper troll, another soon passes by a bit higher and is – perhaps – harder to refuse. It seems that I catch more stripers on the shallower troll.
This week’s trip was slow at first, but within the first hour I had a hit that didn’t stick – but the thieving fish took my sardine. I had two or three such losses during the day, but that’s not unusual. My first hook-up furiously ripped line from the screaming reel and I shouted with excitement as I kicked the trolling motor down to idle and grabbed the rod. My striper fought with the gusto stripers are noted for, and it took a few minutes to reel him to the boat. He was right at the boat as I grabbed my net and – he was gone. Well, that’s fishing. I harnessed up another sardine and kept trying.
I had four other good battles with those angry stripers – and got all four into the boat. They were all 22″ to 25″ and averaged four pounds each. Every striper I’ve ever caught at Hogan is within that range except for one that measured around 27″. That’s another mystery of Hogan – all the stripers seem to be in the same narrow size range.
I trolled from before noon to about five o’clock, then anchored for the night. I love anchoring for the night when lake fishing. It’s a lot less demanding of my attention – and I can break out the beer! I fished with a sardine hanging over each side of the boat ’til about nine o’clock with no action at all. But I sure enjoyed the good gospel and country music that plays aboard FishWisher.
I climbed into the berth after reeling in and slept well ’til about 2 o’clock when the wind changed and I had to move to the opposite side of the lake to avoid wind waves. After the move I again slept well ’til about 5 o’clock. Once I was up and doing my usual morning chores, I decided it was time to head for the dock and home. I’d had enough fishing for this trip.
Yes, life is good!