Perfect Weather, Good Tides = Another Trip To the Delta!
October 15-18, 2010
One of two sturgies reeled to the boat this trip!
2010-11-15 Monday, Day 1 In times past I fished the delta almost every week during the times of year when sturgeon fishing is good, both fall and spring, and often even during the cold of December and January. But in my old age, I have become a fair-weather fisherman. So the past few weeks when I have been able to time the weather and tides to my liking, I have really enjoyed the pleasures of sturgeon fishing. Of course, actually catching one would be a great pleasure, too. My slump has entered its third week and I have not caught a sturgeon since April or May. When the meek actually inherit the world, I should be king.
Along highways leading to the delta, these signs are now posted. This one is on Highway 12 west bound between Lodi and Rio Vista.
The weather and tides did cooperate again this week to create another delta adventure opportunity, so I loaded up the coach and boat and headed for my beloved delta. As I crossed the Rio Vista Bridge, I noticed the river was mirror flat and inviting. Looking downriver from the bridge, I saw what could have been a master’s painting – the delta really is a beautiful place.
This bend of the Mokelumne River, certainly a part of the delta, from the bridge at Terminous on Highway 12 looks a bit like the sign graphic.
Several fellows had reported that the areas from Collinsville to the Pittsburg power plant were producing a lot of sturgeon. With my recent fishing luck, I was ready to try a new area. After launching the boat and settling in at the Delta Marina RV Park, I headed downriver toward Chain Island.
As I cruised around the bend of the river at Sherman Island, the river became very choppy and breezy. The current had just turned to outgoing against the wind, and it was not pleasant. I simply turned around and high-tailed it back upriver. I figured that Decker Island would also be pretty choppy after the tide turned there, so I continued upriver to Light 25.
I never noticed this tower on the west side of the Sacramento River below Rio Vista. What the heck is it?! I have no idea, but it is huge!
A bit upriver from the Three Mile Slough Bridge, I stopped the boat, and as it drifted with the current, I began the rare, but very effective, Mojo Ceremony. I had a new frozen eel with me, and did not want to mix it with the old eel in the Cool Whip bowl I had liberated from Wifey. I tossed out the old, failed remnants of eels past, washed out the bowl and lid, chanting the entire time “Away bad mojo! Away bad mojo!” I kept up the chant until the bowl was clean and ready to accept the new, now thawed eel that represented a fresh, new start for me. I then placed the bloody, new carcass in the bowl, chanting, “Welcome good mojo! Welcome good mojo!” ’til I had closed the lid on Wifey’s bowl. I was encouraged. The Mojo Ceremony has worked in the past, and was the best remedy I could come up with to right the terrible slump which seemed to have infected me. I continued my cruise upriver to Light 25.
This mini pontoon cruised by me heading upriver as I whiled away the breezy day at Light 25.
I anchored a couple hundred yards above the light in slack water. Soon after, the outgoing current developed and with the help of my drogue, the boat finally quit swinging in the breeze. I fished there for about four hours without any action other than a few nipping stripers trying to steal my eel and a lot of aquatic weeds that constantly accumulated on my line. Alas, my skunky slump continued. Still, the country music, cheap beer and warm sunshine made for a wonderful afternoon. Even during a sturgeon slump, a River Rat’s life is good. ======================== Tuesday, Day 2
The day dawned cool and flat calm, and remained perfect throughout. Again, I headed downriver toward Chain Island, and this time the river was mirror-like the entire cruise. As I throttled back near Chain Island, I discovered that a lot of other fishermen must have been reading the same fishing reports I had read. At one point during the day, I counted 43 boats in sight of my anchorage!
Looking upriver toward the Rio Vista Bridge as I left Delta Marina to head downriver to Chain Island. The river doesn’t get any flatter than this!
I dropped anchor just off Chain Island at 0830, and began fishing a strong incoming current. As the morning became afternoon, and the tide turned to outgoing, I thought about giving up at Chain Island and heading for my honey hole on Suisun Bay, another 10 miles or so downriver. Ultimately I decided that I’d give this new area a whole day of effort. And, indeed I did. I fished for eight hours, along with all those other fishermen, and again had only the stripers nipping at my bait – but very few weeds. I saw a few stripers on other fella’s stringers, but as a die-hard sturgeon fan, I was not encouraged. The only sturgeon I saw all day was one that rolled on the surface nearby.
Fishing off Chain Island with the fleet. These boats were but a token few of the many that were in sight of this anchorage.
These days, I don’t like to cruise the river after dark, so at 1630 I reeled in, cranked up the anchor from 50 feet below, and headed for the dock. Although my faith in the Mojo Ceremony was waning, the evening cruise back upriver was gorgeous, and I shot a few good photos of the stunning sunset.
My slump had extended into its eighth day. I had one more day of fishing left this trip, and my ol’ fishing buddy, Willie, would join me on Day 3. He promised to bring me some luck. Time would tell. =========================== Wednesday, Day 3 I began the final day of this fishing trip with a walk into town. I stopped in at Hap’s Bait for another eel. I had been freshening the bait so often this trip, trying extra hard to catch an elusive sturgeon, that I was about out of eel.
I then walked up Main Street to Raul’s Striper Cafe where Willie would meet me for breakfast at 0700. After the usual “1+1+1” breakfast of 1 egg, 1 huge pancake and 1 sausage patty, plus an extra poached egg for me, we headed back to the marina and boarded the boat.
The day was flat calm and the river was like a mirror as we cast off for Suisun Bay and our last, best tries for a sturgeon for the week. Willie promised to bring good luck, and with my recent Mojo ceremony, I was feeling a spark of hope in spite of my long, discouraging slump.
The view upriver from my honey hole on Suisun Bay. I love the solitude out on this remote part of Suisun Bay – especially on such a perfect day.
It was 0900 as I pressed the switch to send the anchor clattering down to the bottom of my honey hole on Suisun Bay. The strong incoming current turned the boat at once, and we were stable in the current thanks to the flat calm conditions. It just doesn’t get any nicer on Suisun Bay than it was that day, and Willie and I were soon peeling off the heavy shirts we were wearing. We soaked the new eel at the bottom of the bay for hours, through the turn of the tide and into the afternoon.
Willie and I while away a perfect day on Suisun Bay – and soon we would welcome a couple of small sturgeon to the boat!
As 1300 approached, Willie commented “It’s near one O’clock – and time to catch a sturgeon!” I guess his recent catch (see “Willie’s Maximum Sturgeon here.) was at about that time, and I didn’t pay much attention to his prediction. But within 10 minutes, as I sat there with rod and reel in hand, a few inches of line ticked off the reel! I set the hook with a jarring swing, and something was on my line! I hooted and hollered like a school kid, finally finding redemption from the awful slump! The fish didn’t feel like much, but at that point of my slump, any sturgeon was more than welcome. In very short order I had a small sturgy to the boat. He was so small, in fact, that I didn’t bother to pull out my plastic sturgy measuring tape. I estimated him to be about 36 inches. After a couple of photos of him in submission at the boat, I popped the hook and released the little fella.
The little sturgeon of about 36 inches that we released to do a bit more growing up. And I failed to get a photo of the 44 incher!
Now, a shaker doesn’t count for much in my book, but after weeks of catching nothing, I was mighty excited about that little sturgy! My faith had been renewed, and I expected bigger and better things very soon. I tossed my eel back into the bay with high hopes and renewed faith.
Willy reminded me that he promised to bring me good luck, and while I appreciated the little sturgy, I advised Willie that good luck would have to include a keeper. We continued fishing.
A couple of hours later, again with rod and reel in hand, it happened again! A few inches of line ticked off, and I again set the hook – and that time it was something substantial!
I immediately turned on the video camera – or I thought I did – and began the fight with what seemed to be a keeper sturgeon! He was wild! As he came to the boat, he dove deep below it, forcing me to follow with the rod bent hard, around the outboard motor, and to the other side of the boat. Willie had the video camera in hand and followed my every move, faithfully videotaping the big fight. And what a fight it was – for all of five minutes.
All too soon, the sturgeon lay at the side of the boat, belly up and exhausted. I set my plastic tape measure along side the tired little guy, and he was so close to the minimum length of 46 inches that I couldn’t be sure he was a keeper. I grabbed the net and brought him aboard for closer inspection.
After he calmed down and would let me find his exact length, he measured just 44 inches. Still in the net, I set him back in the water and he was soon gone. Wow! What a grand time that short but wild fight was! And then it dawned on me that I forgot to take a photo of him. I guess because Willie had been shooting the video all the time, I had forgotten about a still photo.
Willie and I gave it another half hour of trying before reeling in and heading back upriver to arrive at Delta Marina just a bit after sunset. It had been a grand day, no matter the lack of a keeper size sturgeon.
I bid Willie farewell at the marina, then after settling in at the coach, I sat back to view the video of the sturgeon fight. It was then that I discovered we hadn’t had the camera turned on! I had failed once again to press the right button hard enough, or perhaps I had poked it twice – on and off. Whatever the reason, I had no video of the catch. Rats. But I’ll always have the memory of that little guy and my perfect day on Suisun Bay with my fishing buddy, Willie. Life is, indeed, very good on the delta!
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.