Tuesday, May 4 – Day 1: Home to Delta Marina in Rio Vista
After about a month of dodging windy weather or rain, it was time again to head for Delta Marina and another Delta Adventure. The weather forecast was not so great, but it seemed to be tolerable if the wind didn’t get worse than predicted.
After loading up and heading out with the coach and boat, I realized it was a windier day than I had expected. Driving down Highway 12 was a bit of a challenge with crosswinds to about 30 MPH which can be a handful with a boxy motorhome and boat in tow. Nevertheless, I arrived safely at the marina and launched the boat and set up the coach. I was fishing at Light 25 by 1100. The river was breezy, but the NW wind and the outgoing current were moving in harmony, so it wasn’t too rough. Fishing on the incoming tide, or heading downriver to fish Suisun Bay were out of the question.
I pose by the coach – this is my home for three nights while chasing sturgeon.
I fished that first day ’til about 1630, and while the wind gusted at times, it remained tolerable and plenty warm. I stayed faithful to the cause, adding stinkum to the bait hourly, and occasionally freshening the bait with new eel steaks. Even so, I had no hits all day long – not even an occasional striper nip. Even so, the beer was cold and the music was country and I had a grand time. “Fish On” Terry, and “Sea Ray Bill”, both River Rat acquaintances I’ve known and chatted with on the VHF for years, stopped by to say hello as they cruised back upriver after a day of trolling for stripers. They had an empty fish box, too.
I listened to NOAA’s weather broadcast several times during the day, hoping for lighter winds for Day 2. The prediction was for winds to 10 MPH on Wednesday, so I remained optimistic – or at least hopeful. Willie would join me on Day 2, and we were both hoping for calmer weather.
After the short cruise back to the dock, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by Sea Ray Bill and his wife, Cindy. We’ve been talking about getting together for a drink at The Point for some time, and so we did. It was good to visit face to face for a change, instead of over the radio. After a margarita, they headed back to town for a dinner date with friends. I spent another cozy evening aboard the coach, and my bedtime prayer was for calm winds on Wednesday. ===============================
Wednesday, Day 2
After morning chores, I walked into town and met my ol’ fishin’ buddy, Willie, at The Striper Cafe. Willie drove in from Stockton for a day of fishing, and although we were hoping for a flat and calm river, the day dawned breezy. We enjoyed the usual generous breakfast at The Striper, then drove to the marina, boarded the boat and cruised the mile or so downriver to Light 25. We were fishing by 1000.
We anchored in a nearly slack current, and the wind blew us sideways for the first hour or so. We fished in the difficult conditions as best we could, taking plenty of time baiting the hooks with eel and settling in for the day of fishing. As the outgoing current began, I deployed the drogue – or “underwater parachute” – to help stabilize the boat in the current to negate much of the wind’s influence.
Willie and I await the bite. This here fella has reeled in two fish in about 8 hours over the last two trips with me. I have reeled in ZERO fish in probably 40 hours during those same trips. Willie has been put on notice: I’m beginning to think he brings bad mojo with him – and he’d better get his mojo fixed before the next trip!
We were deeply involved in settling the world’s problems when, a bit after noon, Wille set the hook into something substantial. As he began reeling it in, it was very apparent that he had a sturgeon on, but the little guy had little resistance to offer other than a leap above the water just after he was hooked. Willie had him reeled in quickly, and he was already belly up as he came to the boat. I took a quick photo of the lazy critter, measured him with my plastic tape at about 42″, then popped the hook from his leathery mouth. He drifted away in good shape but utterly exhausted. Willie and I agreed that he was about as lazy and out of shape as any sturgeon we’d ever seen.
We continued fishing the outgoing tide the rest of the afternoon, but we could attract no more sturgeon. My theory is that any sturgeon still in the freshwater of the delta are likely heading back downriver after the spawn. I’ve read that some will spend much of their time in the brackish water of Suisun Bay, but it’s not likely that many will stay in fresh water very long after the spawn.
I met fishing guide Brad Bugica of SalmonStriperFishing.com at Hap’s bait during this trip as he awaited clients for a trip. He advised that sturgeon are likely up in the Colusa area, and will be swimming through our Delta in coming weeks. I’m not about to disagree with Brad – and that gives me some hope for the coming weeks!
I always prefer to chase sturgeon on Suisun Bay, but when the wind blows, Suisun is not a pleasant place to anchor. Perhaps this explains why I have now spent five days over the past two trips to the delta, only to watch Willie catch the fish! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…
The wind decreased to near calm in the afternoon, but gusts to about 10 MPH would kick up from time to time. Willie and I eventually moved forward to the fixed seats of the boat, seeking relief from the hot sun. It was very much like summer time fishing and we enjoyed the day even though the fish didn’t cooperate.
We called it a day at 1800, reeled in and headed to the dock. Willie headed back to Stockton with yet another story about how he out fished the captain. I walked to the coach to spend another relaxing evening aboard my comfy coach. The weather reports predicted winds to 10 MPH for Thursday, and I was hoping to be able to head to Suisun Bay on Day 3. ==============================
Thursday, Day 3
Regardless of my hope and the weather forecasts, the last fishing day of this adventure dawned breezy and cool. The flood tide, or incoming current, was underway and the river was very lumpy and unwelcoming as the wind blew against the current. I wasn’t about to head out in such conditions, so after breakfast at The Striper Cafe, I spent much of the morning just hanging around the coach.
View of the lumpy river from Delta Marina – and it never got much better all day.
I left the coach around noon, and was fishing a lumpy, outgoing current by 1215 – with a newly purchased eel. The entire day was frustrating; the wind was incessant and the fish uncooperative. Even so, the music was again country, the beer still cold and the day warm. I always enjoy the time spent at anchor awaiting that sturgeon bite, but it would be a wonderful change to actually catch a fish! I have now waited six days over two sturgeon trips for the bite that never came. Add to that the one trip to Camanche between the sturgeon trips – only to watch my buddy, John, catch a few trout while I caught none. Arrrggggghhhhhh!
At 1730 I reeled in, stowed the gear and headed back to the dock. It had been slim pickins’ once again, but I can’t complain too loudly; how many folks get to spend four days at a lovely marina/RV park, whiling away the days doing what they love best? Life is, indeed, very good – and I’ll not overlook that fact no matter how frustrating the fishing may be! ==================================
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.