Ol’ Buddy Willie Catches Himself a Monster!
April 6-8, 2010
Willie knows the rules aboard FishWisher, that the Captain is to catch the biggest and the first fish of the day. I guess he just got tired of waitin’ on me…
Tuesday, April 6, Day 1: Home to Delta Marina, Rio Vista:
It was the usual first day, the packing, the driving, the launching and the setting up the coach. And then I headed downriver a short cruise to Light 25 where I caught the sturgeon last trip. I was anchored and fishing once again about noon of the first day. The sun was warm, but the north wind blew the whole time. I fished with chunks of the new eel, but couldn’t attract a bite. Around 1700 when the outgoing current weakened and the boat began swinging around the anchor, I reeled in and headed back to the dock. Sure enough, it was the usual first day…
Willie’s Monster! 66 inches, 26 inch girth, approx 80 lbs.!
Wednesday, Day 2: Fishing with Willie – and a great catch!
After my usual morning chores, I walked about 10 minutes into town and purchased another frozen eel – and a bag of frozen anchovies to feed the Bonaparte’s Gulls. I then walked up Main Street a couple of blocks to The Striper Cafe and met my friend Willie for breakfast at 0730. We had great breakfasts – as usual at The Striper – then Willie drove us to the marina where we hopped aboard the boat and headed about a mile downriver to
Light 25 once again.
We were anchored at 0900, and other than about a twenty minute trip to check out Decker Island and the rising steam columns from downriver at Pittsburg (which tells us of the winds on Suisun Bay – and it was windy, the steam was not going straight up) we spent the day at Light 25.
During the morning hours we put up with the cool, northerly wind blowing against the incoming current, but by noon the tide had turned and wind and current cooperated. By early afternoon we were stable in the river and the fishing was a lot more comfortable.
It was about 1345, just moments after I had freshened my bait and injected Willie’s bait with “stinkum”, that Willie’s reel ticked off a few inches of line – tick -tick – tick – tick – wham! Willie set the hook as only as 270 pound feller could do, and something very, very substantial was on!
I reeled in my line as fast as I could, then raised the outboard motor to clear the obstacles from the battlefield. I stood back and watched Willie fight his big fish, barking (probably unnecessary) advice to him as the fight commenced. It was clear from the start that this was no mamby-pamby, wimpy, shaker – Willie had a hog on!
The fight raged back and forth; Willie would reel when the beast tried to rest, then let him run against a hard drag when he wanted to run. Of course, this was a losing strategy for the big fish, and within 15 minutes he was near the boat, belly up and exhausted. I grabbed my plastic measure thingy, 66″ long and marked at 46″ to show the keeper range for sturgeon. I laid it next to the monster several times, and just couldn’t tell whether he was too big or just barely a keeper. We decided to bring him aboard for a proper measure.
Now a big ol’ sturgeon, near the upper limit of 66 inches, is more than a match for us old geezers. Nevertheless, Willie and I set about netting him. I tried twice to get his 66 inches into the net, and failed. On a third try, I grabbed Willie’s 25# mono line to help pull the beast forward – and the line snapped! I shouted “We lost him!” but fortunately for us, the second hook caught the net and he was still hooked. I made a third – and desperate – attempt to net him, and finally got his entire length into the net! We both lifted the big sturgeon over the gunwale and into the boat. Welcome aboard! As he lay on the cockpit sole, we measured him with the tape measure – and he was about 65 1/2 inches! After several measures, we agreed that he was a keeper. I dispatched him with a few whacks on the noggin, tied him to a line and we placed him back into the water. I then cut his gills to bleed him out.
Willie and I were whipped – especially ol’ Willie who had lifted him all alone for his big fish photo – three times! While we were near exhaustion ourselves, we had a messy, gooey boat to clean up. Willie filled out his sturgeon tag and recorded his catch on his Sturgeon Report Card. Willie’s big catch was then official and legal!
After we brought the big fish back aboard and laid him in the motor well, we headed back upriver to the dock. We struggled to get the beast to Willie’s truck, then Willie headed for home to begin the big job of cleaning his fish. Willie called me after he and his friend cleaned it, and I was glad to hear that it was a big male.
After seeing Willie off, I motored back downriver to Light 25 and continued fishing the outgoing current ’til 1830 – and couldn’t buy a bite. But I still had one more day to catch my sturgeon. I returned to the coach for a comfortable and restful night – and looked forward to another great day on my beloved delta!
Thursday, Day 3
I walked into town again for breakfast at The Striper Cafe. While in town I bought another pack of frozen anchovies for the birds. I have learned that they are not too fond of anchovy, and while they’ll take one or two, they don’t keep me company all day as they do when I serve up shad.
Waiting… waiting… for the bite that never came. But even so, life is good!
The morning dawned breezy and I was in no hurry to hit the water. When I did anchor, about 0940, it was near the bank, sheltered from the wind. After an hour or so, I moved on up closer to Light 25, farther out in the river. And there I fished ’til 1830 without the slightest hint of a sturgeon visit. I reckon the fishing gods allow just so much excitement per trip, and with Willie’s big sturgeon on Wednesday, I can’t complain. It had been a great trip!
Here’s something I don’t recall ever seeing on the Delta – an Osprey! Here he’s perched on Light 26, across the channel from where I photographed him with 12X lens. I watched him eating a fish earlier, and could see him and his dinner very clearly with my hi-power binoculars.
*My “stinkum” consists of a 50%-50% mix of Pro Cure Sturgeon Frenzy and Smelly Jelly Lamprey Eel in a little plastic injector bottle which is available at most bait shops.