Sturgeon Fever 2010!
Monday, March 15, 2010 Day 1: Home to Delta Marina, Rio Vista:
Having waited nearly a month for good fishing weather, I was more than ready to load up the coach and boat and head for the delta. I arrived at the Delta Marina about 1000 and was fishing near Decker Island by 1130. The day was sunny, calm and mild – just what I’d been waiting for. I basked in the sunshine and enjoyed the easy, kicked back day of fishing through the end of the outgoing tide and most of the incoming. While it was nearly the perfect day, the sturgeon did not cooperate – not even a nibble. At 1730 the current was nearly slack. I reeled in and headed for the dock.
The green, rolling hills near Decker Island on the Sacramento River – welcome springtime!
This trip was to last through Wednesday and I planned to head home on Thursday morning. However, a memorial service was announced for Thursday in Fresno for a cousin who passed away recently. This week’s trip will be just two days, and I’d have to head home Wednesday.
Tuesday, Day 2: Fishing with Willie
I walked to downtown Rio Vista to meet Willie at The Striper Cafe at 0730. I had a great “2-2-2” breakfast; 2 eggs, 2 huge pancakes and 2 sausage patties. Willie, the little guy that he is, ordered the “1-1-1” and somehow managed to survive ‘til lunch. After a leisurely breakfast, we drove back to the marina, boarded the boat for the hour cruise downriver to my honey hole on Suisun Bay.
On two occasions in the past, we tried to fish that spot together, only to be turned back due to wind and the rough waters of Suisun Bay. This day, the wind en route was flat calm and the bay was like glass.We were fishing an outgoing current by 0930. A breeze kicked up during the first few hours, but by afternoon it was again calm – and the sun was hot. I loved it! It was essentially our first day of springtime.
It turned out to be a slow day of fishing, but around noon, after the tide had turned, Willie set the hook into a small sturgeon of about 30 inches, and reeled him in with very little resistance. The little thing was a lousy fighter and was belly up at the boat almost at once. I took a couple of photos, then bent over the gunwale to pop the hook out of his mouth as he lay beside the boat. We had a good laugh at how wimpy the little guy was, thinking perhaps he’d been through the catch and release routine before and decided to get it over with quickly.
We continued fishing for a keeper. We kept the faith ’til 1600, then reeled in and headed back upriver. The day was downright warm, and we thoroughly enjoyed basking in the sun while trying for a sturgeon.
Willie and I waiting… waiting… for that little sturgeon nibble.
The passing of my cousin had shortened this week’s fishing adventure. Some things are, after all, more important than fishing. I’ll be back out on the delta in the next week or two, depending on weather, and I’ll make it a four day trip just to make up for this week!
Foggy Sturgeon Fishing
February 16-18, 2010
As usual, I checked the weather and tides before heading out for another Delta sturgeon adventure. “Areas of fog” were predicted, but who knew?! And sure enough, the weather was perfect except for the fog that is so common this time of year – it seems it’s either rain or fog in February. Even so, when the morning fog burned off, the days were sunny, calm and spring-like.
Day 1 produced a feisty 57″ sturgeon that was released to continue up river.
February 16: Home to Delta Marina for some more sturgeon action
After the usual launch and RV setup at Delta Marina in Rio Vista, I motored downriver the few miles to Decker Island. After dropping anchor, I attached a few eel steaks to the hooks on my homemade leader and cast them into the river. It was about 1130 as I began fishing for sturgeon. The morning was flat calm and warm. I laid back in my chair, stripped down to Bermuda shorts, and just soaked in the long overdue warmth. I loved it.
After the tide turned and the incoming current was getting well underway, about 1400, I donned my jeans and sweatshirt as a breeze kicked up and cooled the afternoon a bit.
It was as I pulled my sweatshirt over my head that something grabbed my bait and strolled upriver with it, sounding my clicker and startling me into action! I grabbed the rod and set the hook with a big heave – and I was hooked into another big sturgeon! I set the hook again, and the fight was on! This fella felt like a big one, and wasn’t about to be moved against his will. For five minutes he completely dominated as he charged this way and that, seemingly in a full panic, ’til he ran out of gas. Two minutes later, he lay belly up next to the boat, completely exhausted.
I measured him with my plastic slot tape and saw that he was about 57″, a tad bigger than my last catch. After a couple of photos, I pulled the hook and he drifted away, completely exhausted.
After the fight he posed for a close up photo.
My latest eel, a very small one, was almost used up the first day and would not last for two more days. I continued fishing ’till 1500, then reeled in, raised anchor and headed back to the dock. After docking and securing the boat, I walked into town and bought a new eel from Hap’s bait. I would be ready for more fishing with plenty of bait.
I retired to the motorhome for another quiet and cozy evening at Delta Marina’s RV park. Perhaps on Day 2 I would head downriver to my honey-hole on Suisun Bay.
Wednesday, Day 2
Morning dawned foggy – and stayed foggy ’til almost noon. Even so, I packed up the day’s stuff and boarded the boat. It was soaked from the fog, and took some time just to get the windows clear enough to navigate. Navigation on such a dreary morning consists of hugging the bank as I chugged slowly downriver, watching my position closely on the chartplotter and wishing I still had radar.
When I reached the area across the river from Decker Island, I cut the engine, listened for any boat traffic, then motored across the ship channel. It was 0830 when I dropped anchor at my honey-hole, knowing only by the marker on my chartplotter its location. I couldn’t see either side of the river or even the barge that is moored near the island.
I cast a few steaks of eel out over the transom and sat back to wait out the fog. I planned to head to Suisun Bay when visibility improved, and knew there was a good possibility of hooking into a sturgeon as I waited out the fog.
This was the view as I headed out of the marina on the morning of Day 2.
Finally, at 1130, the fog began breaking up and visibility was much improved. I decided that it was too late to head for Suisun Bay and besides, the fog looked as though it was still thick downriver. I spent the entire day awaiting the bite of a sturgeon, but it was not to be. I enjoyed the beautiful day and the warm sunshine – and was again stripped down to Bermuda shorts. At 1700 I reeled in, stowed the gear and headed for the dock and another cozy evening aboard the coach. It had been a grand day on the river.
Thursday, Day 3
Day 3 became the going home day when I looked out from the coach early in the morning and saw even more fog than the day before. There would be no chance to cruise down to Suisun Bay before noon, and I didn’t care to cruise down to Decker Island again in pea–soup fog. I loaded the boat on the trailer and headed for home.
It was a foggy drive home – but at least I could see the line and the car in front of me. When navigating a boat through the fog, there is no point of reference, no horizon – nothing. One must count on whatever shoreline is visible or upon instruments such as a GPS chart-plotter, which I have, and/or radar, which I no longer have with the new boat. I missed the radar this trip!
Unlike a state or federal park, the good folks at Delta Marina agreed to credit me one day for use at another time since I was heading home a day early due to the fog. And I will certainly be back there for my next sturgeon adventure in a couple of weeks.