It pays to be observant when out on the delta if you want to catch fish….
I took off to the Delta Sunday night with the intentions of working on the Motorhome and Fishing Sunday and Monday. Sunday was a beautiful day. Foggy in the morning, light winds all day and near 80 degree weather in November. I fished around Franks Track, Washington Cut, the Santa Clara Shoals, and in the mouth of 7 mile Slough. Caught a dozen keepers and a zillion dinks all day. Most interesting spot was large 6 ft. deep flat that I was crossing just before Prisoner Point. I spotted a single seagull diving for bait right in the middle of the flat, so I stopped and watched for awhile and noticed a few other white birds just sitting in the water waiting for something. I eased up on the spot with the trolling motor – 6 feet deep. With an I line, I made a dozen casts for 5 keepers. It was the most unlikely spot I’ve fished so far but it was educating in terms of watching for birds and for surface disturbances, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. That would pay off big time on Monday.
Dan Blanton came by and we talked about Striperfest and its impact of the future of striper fishing in the Delta. He is an icon of Flyfishing in the Delta. He has strong convictions based on his vast experience on the delta having fished it since the late 60s. We as a small minority of sport fishermen who love the delta, are lucky to have such personalities in the sport as Dan. He has truly dedicated his life’s work to this effort. When Dan’s not fishing, he’s networking with the locals and guides and his finger is on the pulse of Striper fishing in the delta. His visit to the motorhome was unexpected but he always finds time to swing by when he sees the light on.
I also had a chance to chat with Mike McKenzie about the state of stripers and water in California. He’s been fighting the fight for many years and knows quite a bit of fisheries biology. We both agreed that with the Politics of taking water out of the Delta Watershed, and the geological drought pattern we are experiencing, compounded by an old water structure and a doubleing demand for water, we are pretty much screwed in terms of the Delta Fishery. Its a matter of time. We recreational fishermen are just not a powerfull enough lobby to hold the opposition off forever. Even the sacred Endangered Species Act that gives power to science and the minority to protected fisheries over profits, is now under fire . Mike also mentioned that he has seen recent studies that have measured the viability of Stripers from different parts of the delta using pure strains of Stripers as controlls. He claims that chemicals and environmental toxins from AG runnoff is effecting stripers ability to spawn viable offpring. Thats alarming on top of everything.
Saturday night, I hung out with Bill Siler and talked about all sorts of fishing stuff. His son recently won 5 raffle items at the last Striperfest which I calculated the probablity for–320 million to one. I want to fish with that kid because he is the luckiest person I know. Bill, who lives at Sugerbarge has fished over 30 days in the last couple months and he’s fished with everyone here it seems. I talked to him about coming out with me after he complained about putting over $700 of gas in his boat last month and Im glad he agreed. Bill is very modest about his abilities. He is an accomplished caster despite his shoulder and elbow arthritis. He ties great flies and he has tons of experience flyfishing in the Feather where he worked for years on the river. I tried hard to put us on fish and impress him despite my limited knowledge of the Delta but it was mainly him schooling me about places he’s caught fish. I doubled my knowledge of the Delta with him in one day. He is a great guy to fish with–always fun and never boreing.
Heading to Washington Cut from the north Delta through Old River, I wanted to try a spot where Wayne caught a ten pounder three weeks ago. We got to the spot and only managed a couple of dinks. Just as I was pulling the trolling motor to leave, I heard a deep sounding quiet splash behind me and looked back on the far bank. The splash was close to the rock bank 100ft uptide. Bill turned around and didnt see anything. I motored around and re drifted the wall across from the splash and after a couple cast fishing the fly deep, hooked and landed a 15 lbr. Three casts after the first fish, another 6 lb striper from the same hole – all because of a small splash that we investigated. I think the Delta sometimes gives up subtle hints. A bit further into Franks Track, it happened again, I saw some nervous water. We stopped and drifted the site and immedietly both hooked up- a double.