Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Day 1: Home to Delta Marina, Rio Vista:
The tides and weather worked together this week for a good fishing opportunity. I loaded up the coach and boat, and headed once again to Delta Marina in Rio Vista. The good folks there credited me the one day I left early last week. Try that at any state park!
I launched at what seems to be my own, personal launch ramp. After setting up the coach for a three day stay, I cruised downriver about five miles to the Decker Island area, and cast a few chunks of eel out over the transom. And waited. And waited and waited – for seven hours – for nothing more than a shaker striper which I tossed back. Sturgeon fishing involves a lot of time, and I’ve put mine in recently. The way I see it, the fishing gods will be rewarding my patience any time now.
Waiting for the nibble that didn’t come on Day 1.
A Northwest breeze was blowing pretty well during the morning and mid-day, and the river was a bit choppy. An outgoing tide was underway when I anchored, so the current and wind were cooperating and the chop was tolerable. I tossed my drogue, an underwater parachute gizmo, into the river to steady the boat in the current. By mid-afternoon the breeze died completely, and the river was flat calm. I soaked in the sunshine, and loved every moment. For my sun worship, I came back to the coach with a bright red sunburn.
While I basked in the glorious sunshine, I called my soon-to-be nephew, Robert, and asked him to join me for Day 2. He’s a busy fellow, studying for law enforcement, but was able to accept. I’m looking forward to heading down to Suisun Bay on Day 2, and maybe we’ll hook into a big sturgeon!
Wednesday, Day 2: To Suisun Bay and back to Decker Island:
Robert met me at The Striper Cafe about 0730. We enjoyed the usual wonderful breakfast there, then headed back to Delta Marina and the dock.
The weather forecast predicted winds to 20 MPH on Suisun Bay later in the day, but the morning was fairly calm and I decided it would be worth the try. With my 50% catch rate on Suisun, it’s hard to resist heading to my honey hole. So Robert and I boarded the boat and headed downriver.
We dropped anchor on Suisun Bay an hour later, a bit before 1000. The wind was blowing a steady 15 MPH, and the current was nearing slack tide, about to turn to an outgoing current. The wind blew from the Carquinez Strait, and would soon be blowing against the current, so I expected Suisun would soon become very lumpy. I chose to err on the side of caution, so our stay was very brief. I pulled anchor and we headed back upriver to Decker Island for the day’s fishing.
When we dropped anchor at Decker Island, the wind was calm and an incoming current was slowing. We began fishing the incoming, and soon the boat turned with the current. It was flat calm during the early hours, but as the day wore on, the wind kicked up and the gorgeous day was not quite so pleasant – and the fish did not cooperate.
Nevertheless, we stayed faithful to the cause ’til 1700, deciding at that time to reel in and call it a day. Robert, who had never fished for sturgeon before this trip, did not get to enjoy the thrill of a fight with a big sturgeon, but he did learn the patience part of sturgeon fishing, and that’s the most important part.
I still had one more day of fishing this trip to catch my next sturgeon, and I am soooo overdue for that great moment of setting the hook into a big ol’ sturgeon!
Thursday, Day 3: To Suisun again, and back upriver to Channel Marker 25 in the wind:
I had been in a slump for the last two trips to my beloved delta. That included two days last week and two days so far this week with no sturgeon activity of any kind. I was frustrated and I was disappointed. Something had to change.
I determined that the good Mojo of my prior trips – maintained by
keeping parts and juices of past eels in my bait container (which is an old Cool Whip bowl liberated from Wifey’s collection) – had gone bad. It takes many years of sturgeon fishing to understand Mojo philosophy as it relates to sturgeon fishing, and I read the symptoms loud and clear.
I walked into town that last morning of my trip, and my first stop was Hap’s Bait. I bought a new frozen eel and the third package of frozen shad this trip. To appease the fishing gods, I have faithfully fed shad to the Bonaparte’s Gulls (I don’t buy shad for bait) the prior two days and now had more for this third day. Most of all, I had fresh eel, and would discard the old eel remnants, which had turned against me. But first things first: I had another great 1+1+1 breakfast with an extra egg at The Striper Cafe. I’d begin every day with a breakfast at The Striper if I could. I then walked back to the marina and the boat.
I would take the day’s opportunities as they presented themselves. If the weather stayed calm enough, I’d cruise all the way down to Suisun. If not, I’d fish Decker Island once again – or maybe Light 25 which I haven’t fished for a long time. Maybe it was time for a change! Before leaving the marina, I idled over to the gas dock and took on a few gallons of gas to be sure I had enough for another Suisun Bay trip.
As things turned out, I cruised on down to Suisun Bay again. It was upon arrival at Suisun Bay’s honey hole that I realized that in my preparation for the day’s trip I had forgotten my bait bowl. Fortunately, I had the new eel, and always have several new leaders in my sturgeon tackle tray. I hooked a few steaks of the new eel to a new leader, and fished Suisun Bay for just two hours. When the current slowed on Suisun Bay, and the wind blew the boat ’round and ’round at anchor, I headed upriver to Light 25, just below Rio Vista.
I was surprised that the current was slack by the time I arrived there, and again the wind blew me in wide arcs around the anchor. I decided to head for the dock and the coach for lunch and would try fishing an hour or two later when the current was underway. At the coach I made a sandwich and enjoyed a few minutes of rest. I remembered to grab the old bait bowl – and the bad Mojo – from the fridge and took it along with me to the boat.
At 1415 I was back at Light 25 and the outgoing current was well underway. Although the wind was blowing a steady 15 MPH from the west, the boat was pretty stable in the stronger current. I tossed the same steaks from the new eel over the transom to attract a passing sturgeon, then set about discarding the bad Mojo from my nasty old bait bowl.
At anchor at Light 25 just south of Rio Vista.
There were the aforementioned parts and juices in the bowl that had accumulated over the past several months. I tossed the whole mess into the river, chanting “Away bad Mojo – Away bad Mojo” as the evil stuff dispersed into the river. I then washed the bowl with river water ’til is was clean and ready for the new eel. I had done all I could to change my luck. Surely my fishing would improve!
My fishing buddies, the Bonaparte’s Gulls, chasing one another ’round the boat.
I stayed faithful to the cause as the hours passed. On several occasions I reeled in, removed accumulated weeds and added a bit of stinkum to the eel steaks. The wind increased as the time ticked by, and by 1600 or so, I was getting pretty disgusted with the weather and my lousy luck. But, having rid myself of the bad Mojo, I chose to stay faithful ’til at least 1800. No doubt the new, good Mojo needed a bit of time to kick in.
I dug out the heater and fired it up as the afternoon became a bit cool. The wind was blowing a steady 20 MPH, I estimated, and gusts reached 25 MPH or more. But as 1700 approached, things began to change…
At 1655, my reel ticked off a steady few inches of line, which I’d been dealing with all day due to the swinging conditions, but this time it was steadier and not in sync with the swinging and the rocking. I pressed my thumb into the spool and set the hook with a mighty ummmph! And something substantial was on my line! I pushed the lever drag full forward and set the hook again – and a big ol’ sturgeon was hooked!
Finally! A Sturgeon to the boat. My Mojo was back!
The fight was on! He felt like a huge fish when he chose to run and I reeled in whenever the big fish tried to rest. After a few moments of fighting, he began to tire. Less than ten minutes after the fight began, it was pretty much over. I reeled in a fish that looked to be about 50 inches.
A two part video of this week’s catch is here:
Part 1: The Fight!
Part 2: Welcomed Aboard and Released!
With my video camera running, I chose to bring him aboard for the measurement; he was about 52 inches long. He tried his best to tear up my boat as he thrashed on the cockpit sole, but eventually I got him measured. Although he was a keeper, I chose to release him. I lifted him- still in the net – back over the gunwale and into the river. He swam slowly away, still weary from the losing fight he had waged.
I was ecstatic! After four days of sturgeon fishing with absolutely no sturgeon action, I had reeled in a keeper! There was no doubt in my mind that my Mojo ceremony had ridded me and my boat of the bad luck that had brought about the long, four day fishing drought! My luck would now be better – until the Mojo once again turns bad – and I don’t know why that seems to happen.
So, the spell had been broken! I was absolutely thrilled with the outcome of this day’s fishing. Now, the bad weather predicted for next week may keep me home, but I’m already looking forward to my next Delta adventure!
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.