Three Days at Brannan State Recreation Area (near Rio Vista, CA)
…and the first sturgeon aboard my new FishWisher III!
March 18-20, 2009
A really lousy video of this week’s adventure is now available on YouTube.
Wifey is getting around much better nowadays, her recovery from foot surgery has gone well. So it was time to break away for a few days to chase sturgeon on my beloved California Delta.
I spent much of Tuesday of this week loading up the motorhome and getting the boat ready for three days of fishing. I headed over to Brannan Wednesday morning and got the boat launched and the coach set up in the RV lot. I was fishing aboard the new FishWisher III for her first sturgeon, anchored near the ship channel off Decker Island just a bit after noon.
I spent six hours soaking up the glorious, warm sun of the last day of winter as I awaited the gentle bite of a sturgeon. There was just enough breeze to keep from getting too hot and I got my first good shot of sunburn for the year. It was just wonderful sitting there in the comfort of my big, new North River with the rod in one hand and a cold beer in the other. I listened to good ol’ 70s country music on my XM radio – commercial free – and whiled away the day in perfect uselessness.
It was one of those marvelous spring days that I did not mind that the fish didn’t bother me. I didn’t get a bite all day long – but that’s sturgeon fishing. I’m used to it.
After about six hours at anchor, I motored back to the berth, tied up the boat for the night and spent a very nice evening aboard the coach with all the comforts of home. I planned to head downriver to my honey hole on Thursday morning and quite possibly hook into the season’s first sturgeon.
By 9:00 Wednesday morning I was anchored above my honey hole on Suisun Bay, within sight of the “Mothball Fleet”. I had made the trip in about an hour, and the new Suzuki 90 pushed the boat at an easy 25 MPH most of the way. I topped out at 36 MPH when I went to full throttle for a short spell, and that’s plenty of speed for this old man. My C-Dory cruised at 19 MPH so 25 MPH seems plenty fast.
The breeze was blowing about 15 MPH and the bay was a bit choppy. The ride of the new boat is very smooth compared to the flat bottomed C-Dory. It is a real pleasure to ride through a chop with the deep-V hull cushioning the waves.
I faithfully fished as the boat swung about in the breeze and nearly slack current. It is a full time job keeping the line taut as the boat swings, but if it isn’t taut, I’m not really sturgeon fishing. After a couple of hours the breeze laid down pretty much and the outgoing current began in earnest. The boat was much more stable in those conditions and the fishing was easier.
It was just before noon when a pull of line from my reel – click-click-click – let me know that I finally had a visitor. I set the hook with a mighty swing, and sunk the hook deeply into something substantial. I hooted and hollered as I began the fight with my first sturgeon of the year!
Immediately after setting the hook, he jumped and my line went limp – as exciting as a big jumping sturgeon can be, nothing good can happen when he’s airborne! Fortunately the hook stayed and I reeled in ’til I had taut line again. For ten minutes or so my big sturgeon put up a good fight. When he finally came to the boat in submission, I measured him with my little plastic tape thingy and saw that he was easily within the 46″ to 66″ slot limit. I netted him, administered a righteous whack, cut his gills and tied him to my dock line. I dropped him back into the water to bleed out. Whew – it had been a perfect trip!
My sturgeon measuring thingy.
I filled out my sturgeon report card and prepared the tag which I must attach as soon as I bring a sturgeon to the boat. When I brought him over the gunwale into the boat, he measured 50″ and weighted in at 27 Lbs. I ran a plastic tie through his mouth and gills, attached the tag and was then legally in possession of him.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that as I prepared to take a photo of my prize, I set my digital camera, a 12X zoom 7.2 pixel Sony that I bought for about $450 a couple of years ago, on the outboard motor for the photo. I set the delay, turned and picked up the sturgeon for my photo, turned back towards the camera – and it was gone! I had placed it on a rubber mat that kept it from sliding, but… well, that’s the price of stupidity. I’ve paid it many times!
So that’s explains the lousy photo at the top of the page – I took it with my little video camera. The good news is that the same Sony camera that went in the drink now sells for about $260. I already have one on order.
Even with the costly stupidity of losing my camera, it was a great trip! I love the Brannan facility where I can launch and berth the boat near the RV site and can come and go with the boat as I please without having to launch it every time. And of course, the great fishing nearby is the best part!
I will likely have one or two more trips to Brannan this spring, then give up the Delta to the tourists and the endless wind for the summer. I’ll be heading to the lakes this summer for trout and striper fishing. Life is good!