15 Minute Sturgeon!
April 26, 2004
FishWisher the boat has been traveling behind the motorhome of late, doing a bit of lake fishing and not catching many fish. Meanwhile, the best months of the sturgeon season on the Delta are slipping away. It’s now time to settle down and concentrate on the Delta’s mighty sturgeon through the end of May.
According to early reports by the weather folks, this week’s best Delta fishing would be Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was predicted to be breezy and I avoid breezy when I can. So I set out for this week’s Delta adventure a day early and launched into perfect conditions at the Rio Vista ramp on Monday morning. I had along a half pound of grass shrimp and a half dozen ghost shrimp, packed on ice, with which to fool some wily sturgeon. The plan for this week’s trip, under such perfect conditions, was to cruise down river to my favorite sturgeon hole on Suisun Bay.
The cruise downriver was the perfect boat ride. The day was already warm and predicted to be in the 90s. That’s my kind of weather and, to me, long overdue! The sun was shining brightly and the river was flat calm. I had two days of stores in the ice chest, including plenty of Pepsi and cheap beer and ice to keep me cool. I was going to have a good time whether I caught a sturgeon or not.
I arrived at my sturgeon hole at 10 O’clock. I was rigged up and sturgeon fishing fifteen minutes later. The occasional whisper of wind rippled the water now and then, it was just enough of a light breeze to keep things from getting too hot. It was, indeed, the perfect day to be fishing on Suisun Bay. I began what would likely be a long wait for some sturgeon action, but the chances for a sturgeon seemed better at this proven hole than anywhere else I know.
A few minutes after tossing a grass shrimp/ghost shrimp combo over the transom, I started getting a few quick, striper like nips. Rats. I did not want to be harassed by thieving, little fish. I put up with a couple such hits, and figured I’d have to be tending my bait more often than I like. But I was wrong.
Fifteen minutes after I started fishing, a classic, subtle sturgeon nibble clicked off a couple of inches of line. What? Already? Huumph! I set the hook instantly and I set it hard. I sunk that hook into something very, very substantial! Then I set it again and again. This couldn’t be happening, but, sure enough, I had a sturgeon on! In just fifteen minutes I was hooked into a big, and I mean big, sturgeon!
I raised the main engine out of the water, set the deck chair in the cabin and began what would be a long, tedious fight with this big fish.
My sturgeon didn’t get too excited about his dire predicament. He didn’t run and he didn’t jump; he simply swam away from the boat and stayed away. I’d reel in a bit; he’d reel out a bit. I’d reel some more back in; he’d take some more line off. We continued that seesaw game for the longest time. Twenty minutes into this street fight and I still hadn’t seen my fish.
Finally, he came to the boat for the first time, and was belly down. I could not see the hook set and was concerned, after all this time, that the fight may have loosened the hook in his tough, leathery mouth. He finally tried to lie next to the boat, still belly down, then slowly headed back towards the bottom, still fighting, but nearly done.
A moment later he again surfaced and I scooped him into the net. He was as heavy set a sturgeon as I’ve ever seen. He very well may be a she. It had taken 30 minutes to get this big critter to the net. I was worn out, too, but I had my sturgeon! I cut his gills, tied him off to a line and let him float alongside the boat as I readied the fishbox for him.
When I brought the big fish aboard and into the fish box, I tried to weigh and measure him. He was too heavy for me to lift with the scale. I estimated him to be something over sixty inches long, and he had a girth on him that was huge. I’d have to wait till I got home and had some help weighing him.
I never did get that big fish properly weighed, and it turned out that the he really was a she. Unfortunately, she was full of roe. She measured in at 65 inches long. Even with help getting her up on my scale, we couldn’t get an accurate weight. Perhaps she was too heavy for my scale. I checked the sturgeon weight chart, and at 65 inches, she should weigh 82 Lbs. But she was of massive girth; we measured her at 31 inches around. She had 17 Lbs of roe, we later discovered, when ol’ FishTracker Rich, who I gave her to, cleaned her. I’ll never know her real weight, so I’ll just claim the 82 Lbs. that the chart indicated.
This week’s catch was my second big sturgeon for the season. It’s been an on and off sturgeon year for me this year due to my motorhome travels. But I plan to be out there weekly through May, and I trust that more mighty sturgeon are waiting for me!