Stripers in the Smoke , Heat and Covid

Friday Oct 2, 2020– Just when 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, The president was diagnosed with Covid-19 last night.  The Lake wind predictions have been outright wrong the last couple days.  Perhaps smokey air acts differently because its thicker and heavier.  I decided to take a chance on a pretty windy forecast and hit the lake.  October has traditionally been a transition from the summer slowdown.  Last year, the racks gave up some bigger fish in October and as good as the Forebay reports have been lately,  I think I’ve caught my yearly quota of forebay dinks on an 8 wgt and it’s time to get back to the lake.

New fires near Redding and Napa brought the smoke back to the bay area again this weekend.  The lake conditions were unusual to say the least.   The smoke was so thick that you couldn’t see the trash racks from the Basalt station.  The wind never got over 5 mph and at times the lake was smooth as glass.   The temps reached 101 degrees despite the sun never really reaching half its intensity.  I could feel the Covid and smoke in the air and wore an N95 all day  –  like just another day at the office.  The unique conditions seemed to favor the striper bite.  I  pulled up to an empty trash racks at 8:00 in the morning and decided to start fishing the backside before the dam police check in.

With 10 boats at the launch,  I was surprised that there were no crowds at the racks like the last few times I fished the lake.   I lined up the panoptix on the rack and I marked some schools of shad lined up on the wall and the grates.   The grates were about 40 feet down at this water level.   One pump was on and I could see some current between two of the pillars   My first cast was 30 feet and I hooked up on a healthy 5 pounder.   The fish were very picky about retrieves today.   I got lots of short and light hits today.  Despite fishing my standard olive brown over white Delta Smelt craft fur clousers, I had some good results on Steph’s Red and Yellow Flash and Slinky clouser.    I started tying them for him a year ago and honestly thought it wasn’t really something I would ever fish.  I always have one in the boat now because for some reason ,  the fly works  when the fish get picky.   Today was such a day and I caught most of my fish on a long pause after several hard strips 30-40 feet deep.    I ended the day with around 25 and caught fish at will all day.   When I spotted the dam patrol   I moved away from the dam before they arrived and only had to do that three times today.

There are so many things I dont like about the SV clouser.   Its too long for the hook size, the eyes are too far forward and it doesn’t look like anything.    Maybe that is why it works.   I remember I had to bum one of the ones I tied for Steph because I didn’t even keep one for myself .   Steph’s friend Brian uses them as well and catches lots of good fish.  After tying another dozen for Steph I had a deja vu moment about this fly.    Years ago I had an order for a dozen  “Micky Fins”. I specifically remember looking for real jungle cock for the eyes of the pattern.   The Micky Fin  is a fly that was tied in the 30’s originally called an Assassin and later named  Micky Fin. It resembles nothing in nature and use to disgust me for that reason, hence the love hate relationship.  I think I’ll start calling this fly Stephs Micky Fin Clouser or maybe Steph’s MF clouser.    Don’t leave home without one.

The forebay had 8 fishermen in the channel when I passed it this morning.    I love those weed lines but Ill take bigger fish every day.  No Rack bastards today as Steph refers to them.

I lost a drone today in a freak accident.  One of my batteries malfunctioned in flight quickly running out of charge at 30%.  When I got the malfunction warning,  I put the Drone in Sports mode and tried to do a suicide crash into the boat from 100 yards out and up.   As the drone sped for the boat,  the power died and it dropped into the lake about 30 feet aft.   I powered over to the crash site just to see the drone sink out of site as I contemplated making a dive for it.   The Mavic Air is one of 4 drones I own and its been all over the world for the last couple years from the Amazon to the Aleutians.  I had bought a year of insurance form DJI but it ran out a couple years ago.   Insurance for water landed drones for replacement is only  $75 with DJI Refresh  and can be extended yearly for $45 DJI Refresh Plus.   But you need to recover the drone.   After looking for some sort of recovery floatation device for drones,  I discovered a device called a “Getterback“.   The device is 1/2 ounce  buoy\tether that deploys in two minutes after getting wet.    It was originally designed for Fishing Rods and I happen to know a guy who could use one having lost a couple expensive rods out the back of the boat.

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