September 21 and 22, 2022 – This week Joe Biden proclaimed September 24, 2022 as National Hunting and Fishing Day and he called upon Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities. I’m an American so I complied and headed to the Lake at the crack of dawn . I fished the Forebay yesterday on Friday and managed a rare totally skunked day. The hardest day on the Forebay is the first day back after a phenomenal trip away. The last time I fished San Luis and the Forebay was in July. I can’t remember if I have ever skipped an entire month not fishing for home water stripers and I felt like I had forgotten everything. I’m actually thankful that an office plumbing emergency pulled me off the lake at 2:00 PM to put me out of my misery.
The highlight of Friday was meeting up with Vaughn and Al Whitehurst. Al is a legend on San Luis and holds most of the fly fishing world record in several line class for landlocked Stripers. We chatted about processing Ikura (in -20 degree freezers) and he mentioned that he had not fished the Forebay or Lake since 1995. We have many friends in common, but over the years 50 years that we have known about each other, we’ve never fished together. II always wondered why Al stopped fishing San Luis and was glad to see him back at it with Vaughn. Vaughn and him did well in the morning with several large fish. Hopefully this will ” reactivate” Al once again to rule the fly fishing in the lake and forebay again. I spent time watching how he strips and fishes and it was great to see him out again on the forebay after many years.
Brian decided to leave the forebay at noon on Friday and headed over to the lake to fish the racks. I decided to stick it out at the forebay to make sure I tried every spot before going home fishless. I couldn’t buy a strike even though I scanned lots of fish with the panoptix. At around 1:00 He texted me that he had three and by 4:00 he said he had caught 16. 4 I decided to give the lake a try on Saturday based on Brian’s great report.
Steph and I consulted on a strategy for Saturday and decided to show up at the lake at daybreak and get over to the racks and start hammering fish. All went as planned until we started fishing. The Racks were devoid of fish. I hooked three dinks and Steph was blanked. At 10am we split up and started fishing the rocks on the dam. Steph went to the Bay of Pigs and I went to Romero. I pounded the face of the dam all the way to romero and got nuthin. Steph texted me that he had three so I ran down to BOP and found Steph fishing in 8 feet of water. He told me he saw a huge fish slashing bait in 2-3 feet of water. and had only managed about 4 dinks. I started fishing the small twigs that were sticking out of the water and immediately caught half a dozen dinks. It’s great to see so many 6-8 inch stripers in the lake. After getting tired of catching dinks, we decided to go fish the now closed Basalt Boat Launch. The boat launch had a water pump in the water and I saw lots of fish around the ramp itself. I caught my first “keeper” of the day , a 21 inch fish, casting to the shoreline. There were lots of dinks to cull through to get this first keeper. We headed to the racks again at noon and again we didn’t catch anything there. I fished the back of the racks against the rocks and hooked a nice fish right off the rocks–my second 21 inch fish. Steph left at 2:00 and I ran back to the Bay of Pigs to see if I could spot any big fish working the shallows. Sitting in 8 feet of water and casting into two feet of water, I was hooking dinks on every other casts when suddenly I hooked a fish as I was picking up line to backast that gave me a line cut tearing around the boat. I finally got the fish up from under the algae to see it and it was a nice 24 inch fish. I had never caught one that big so close to the boat and in such shallow water.
The water is super low and the Launch is treacherous. Be careful launching and landing at Dino. Stay in the channel. People have already lost props this last month grounding out. I think the strategy on the lake at this level is to look for shore structure. Unlike high water, shore structure is mainly ledges, drop offs, rocks and springs. Today it also was thick green algae and weeds in the water. The racks were dead even though they were pumping. I metered huge schools of shad around the upwelling which is about 500 feet in front of the racks. My feeling is that when the water is this low and the pumps go on, the shad move out to the upwelling and the stripers follow or hunker down in the deep water behind the racks. I also saw lots of big fish at 80 feet on the bottom suspended–too deep to fly fish for them . The panoptix showed the rack devoid of any striper schools and both Steve and I were optimistically looking for hours.
Next week I’ll be hanging out with Gina in SF for Fleet Week and won’t be able to fish the lake till October. The lake will probably be completely different. A strange thing happened to my trolling motor at the end of the day. I thought I overheated the batteries and tripped the breaker but the breaker would not reset . I had to manually stow the Ulterra. When I got home, I discovered that one of my LiPo batteries was dead. I have two weeks to buy another one unless I can figure out what’s wrong with it.
Like in the old days, I streamed College Football to my boat in the afternoon. The Oregon Washington game started at 1:00 and I watched it on the lake as I was stowing my dead trolling motor and on the drive home. After what was an incredibly frustrating and at times ugly game for the Ducks, Dan Lanning and his squad found a way to pull it out in the end, thanks to a 50-yard touchdown from Bo Nix to Troy Franklin that gave Oregon a three-point lead with less than two minutes to go. It was an insane 44 -41 comeback win . Way to go Ducks. Lets see if the Niners can pull it off again tomorrow.