The cost of three nights at Brannan Island Park with a berth: $97.
Gas to and from Brannan: $35.
Five sturgeon in three days: Priceless!
As sturgeon fishing goes, this week’s trip was the most productive I’ve ever experienced!
I had the second week of November marked on my calendar because of good tides for sturgeon fishing – if the weather was right. And it was so right! All three days were flat calm to a slight breeze – and sunny. And warm. So I hooked the boat to the motorhome and headed to Brannan Island State Park for a few days.The Klamath hooked up behind the motorhome at Brannan Island.
Brannan now has electricity at the RV spaces directly above the boat berths, and although they’re a bit more costly than the dry camping spaces, it’s well worth a few extra bucks for the convenience – and the ability to keep an eye on the boat.
On Day 1 I launched my little Klamath, FishWisher II, then motored over to the berths. After setting up in the RV space, I boarded the boat and headed for Decker Island, but far out past the middle of the river, just off the ship channel. That position is actually closer to the shore opposite from Decker Island than the island.
I dug out the nasty, smelly lamprey eel that has occupied wifey’s freezer since April. The leader, with eel still attached to the hooks from my trip back in September, was still in the container with the eel. It slurped out of the bloody mess and I snapped it to my swivel. I tossed it far out over the transom.
Eel has become my only sturgeon bait. It is very attractive to sturgeon and nearly impossible for the little nippers to steal. It lasts forever and is easy to keep – just toss it in the freezer after each trip ‘til it’s all used up. While an eel is fairly expensive, it is so long lasting that it is absolutely the cheapest sturgeon bait available.
The 62 inch sturgeon of Day 1!
I waited for only half an hour before I heard the click-click-click of the reel as a sturgeon took my offering. Having the rod in hand when Mr. Sturgy visited, I set the hook with a mighty heave! I knew at once that I had a keeper on. I set the hook another few times and the fight was on. It took very little time for my sturgy to come to the boat, belly-up in submission. He was a wimp. And he was skinny! He measured 62” but weighed just 35 lbs. He was the skinniest sturgeon I have ever caught. He looked more like a snake. Even so, this was my first sturgeon of the year and I administered a few whacks before welcoming him aboard.
My day was over entirely too soon, but I was ecstatic! After filling out my sturgeon report card, I called a friend who loves sturgeon. We made arrangements for him to come get the sturgeon. He met me at the berth an hour or so later and gladly took my prize. We were both happy.
On Day 2 I left the berth and headed directly for Decker Island again. I continued to use the same old eel, and this time it took about two hours before I heard that click-click-click of another sturgeon accepting my nasty offering. Again I set the hook with a vengeance and again I had a sturgeon on! This one was much stronger than the last and gave a good account of himself for about ten minutes. When I got him to the boat I measured him with my little green plastic tape that is tied to a small bamboo stick. It is 66 inches long and has a black mark at 46 inches so I can get a pretty good idea of a sturgeon’s length. He measured about 48 inches and would have been a nice keeper. He was much huskier than the sturgeon of the prior day. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to call off my day’s fishing so soon, and I released him to fight another day. Two sturgeon in two days! Incredible!
I continued fishing with the same old bait ‘til mid afternoon – and called it a day around 1600. I headed to the berth and another nice evening with all the comforts of home awaiting me in the coach.
Day 3 included my friend Doug who joined me for some sturgeon fishing. Ol’ Doug is a former Navy SEAL and is a good boating buddy anytime. His Navy experience is always good to have at hand when on the water. Doug’s been fishing since his diaper days.
The 48 inch sturgeon released on Day 2.
First thing, Doug reeled in a small flounder making its way upriver to spawn. He released it to continue on its romantic journey. A few minutes later Doug set the hook into his first ever sturgeon! We were hooting and hollering as he worked his fish to the boat. Three sturgeon in three days was just incredible! As Doug brought the sturgeon along side, I measured it and we agreed that it was a keeper at about 47 inches. Did Doug want to keep it? No, and neither did I; we both wanted to continue fishing and telling lies to one another. We released it to continue its journey upriver.
Doug would have loved to see the day end with me skunked and him out-fishing me. But it was my duty to keep him humble. About three hours later I had a definite sturgeon take down, and missed the hook set. I jumped to my feet and told Doug that I’d just had a classic sturgeon bite. A few minutes later the sturgeon returned and pulled off a few more inches of line – and I set the hook hard. I had the fourth sturgeon hooked – and it was a big one!
My sturgeon went where he darn well pleased. He liked staying below the boat, choosing to stay deep instead of streaking away from the boat in a mad dash. He would not be moved. I told Doug that I had a monster on, and that this was going to be a good fight. Before I had my big fish to the boat, my back and arms were tired and aching – and that’s not unusual for this old man whenever I do much physical work. Finally, after about fifteen minutes, I had the big fish along side the boat and able to measure him. We agreed that he was 69 inches – too big to keep.
After the strenuous fight I cut him loose. As he left he whacked me with his tail just to let me know we were not exactly friends. Four sturgeon in three days!
The 68 or 69 inch monster too big to keep on Day 3!
About an hour and a half later something clicked off a few inches of line that seemed to be yet another sturgeon. I missed the first hook-set and about fifteen minutes later I missed the second try. A while later on the third try, I set the hook into something very substantial. While this sturgeon didn’t have near the mass of the oversized one that I had just released, he felt big enough to be legal. After a few minutes of battling wills, I had him to the boat. We again set the measure tape in the water and decided that he was legal at about 49 inches. The second big sturgeon released on Day 3!
We decided to release him, too. Why stop with a limit of one when the fishing was so good? By this time I was incredulous! That was the fifth sturgeon in my three-day fishing trip! I’d never had such a grand sturgeon adventure.
And there was more! An hour later I had another hit by something that took line much faster than a sturgeon. I set the hook and had yet another big fish on. I remarked to Doug that this one was doing a lot of head shaking and that maybe I had a good striper on. After a few minutes of battle, sure enough a big ol’ striper was at the surface. We decided to keep her, and into the net she went. She weighed in at 11½ lbs, a real beauty of a striper!
The very nice striper I chose to keep (and gave away to some nearby and very happy fishermen).
It was getting late in the afternoon when I caught a baby sturgeon, just a little fellow of about 20 inches or so. We brought him aboard for a quick photo and then released him back to the river to do some more growing. It was time to call it a day. And what a day it had been! I’ve spent many a day on the Delta soaking bait for hours on end – even days on end – for no action at all. Perhaps the fishing gods are smiling on me this year to make up for the lost salmon season. I don’t know what brought about this unusually good fishing trip, but I will surely be back again when the tides are looking favorable. Life IS good!
Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.