Another Hot Day on the Lake – Did I see the Loch Ness Monster of SLR

The air conditioners in the house crapped out just in time for the longest, hottest goddamn heat wave in the Bay Area’s recent memory. Instead of sitting in a tub of ice water with my wife all day like a couple of desperate lunatics, I decided to hit the lake again. At least there’d be a breeze and a semi-cool (75 degrees) lake to jump into. Pulled up to the Dino launch and found ten boats with the same desperate idea. Just two days ago, the lot was damn near empty. I buzzed the Trash Racks looking for a parking space, but no dice—fly fishermen had taken over the south tower. So, I made my way to the Bay of Pigs to fish the Rocks, praying for a big one.

The Rocks fished like they did a couple days ago. Managed a dozen fish off the rocks, most around 18 inches. These little bastards were pulling harder than usual. Something about the heat must juice them up. The smaller fish fought like maniacs, giving my 8-weight rod a workout and leaving my hands raw with line burns.

I brought a ton of ice water and an umbrella for shade, trying to stave off heatstroke. The breeze held up all day, so I didn’t get roasted alive. Steph and Brian were out there too, along with Tim. Steph is heading to Palapas Ventana tomorrow for a week of Dorado fishing. Our guide Yoni texted today saying they caught a dozen fish, but it’s not like last year when we were hauling in 30 a day. In a way, I’m glad Jerry and I postponed till next May. Hopefully, this week turns around for Steph.

The fishing today was solid. The schools around the racks were deeper and more packed against the walls. With a Livescope, I could line up casts through the schools pressed against the walls, hitting fish on 70 percent of my casts. My 53-second drop to get 30 feet down was still gold.

Around 2:30, most of the fly fishermen bailed to escape the heat. I lost count after 25 fish. My hands were cut up, and I had a nasty case of Striper thumb. Sixteen to eighteen-inch stripers are the ones that really get you with their sharp gill plates and teeth. They don’t quit, even when you’ve got their heads clamped down or pinned to your shirt. They thrash so hard when you lip them that if your grip isn’t solid, their teeth will saw through your thumb. And I’m not talking about a handful of stripers—more like over 20 in a short burst.

I thought the dam workers had called it quits during the heat wave, but I was wrong. A lone truck with flashing lights pulled up honking and kicked everyone off the dam around 2:30. I could’ve gone back after he dared me to, but I used it as an excuse to head in early and cool off. I would’ve won, though. I had a cooler full of cold things to eat and drink, and a shade canopy.

Around 1:30, while Tim, Brian, Steph, and I were hanging around the south tower, we heard a massive splash like someone had fallen off the causeway into the water. It sounded like a depth charge. None of us got a good look, but I was tempted to pull out a big swimbait and investigate. I rationalized it was probably a carp. I’d seen 20-30 lb carp jump often enough. Didn’t think much of it until I got home and reviewed the video.

Watching the video (5:46), it didn’t look like a carp at all. More like a tuna. It looked six feet long, black and chrome with a forked tail. Definitely not a sturgeon. If it was a striper, it was the biggest damn one I’d ever seen at San Luis Reservoir—maybe 100 lbs. I can’t even fathom what that would look like on a Livescope, but from the video, I’d guess it was at least six feet long. There are mysteries about San Luis that we may never unravel.

Sturgeon or Striper

Looks like a FAT fish here

Heterocercal Tail


Addendum:   July 8th 2024. The consensus is that this fish is a Sturgeon.    DFG Biologist Ken Oda sais the tail gives it away.    “It is a Heterocercal Tail (upper lobe looks extended) ”



2 thoughts on “Another Hot Day on the Lake – Did I see the Loch Ness Monster of SLR

  1. Was a hot day but fun to have it…all of us were bunched together at the racks…some fish at guard rail and dam area..

  2. Hi Meng,
    Spending the month of July in Colorado but saw your posting from San Luis and took a careful look at your video of the giant fish jumping. My bet is on a sturgeon – I’ve seen the same behavior on the Sacramento River when shad fishing and in San Pablo Bay when chasing stripers. The shiny appearance of the fish during mid-leap looks to me like a camera artifact with sunlight glinting off the spray being shed from the fish’s body. There is only one frame that briefly shows the tail and I think it looks like the shark-like sickle shape of a sturgeon. No way to be sure, but that’s my guess.
    Looks like you’ve really dialed in the long sink time needed to reach the stripers hanging next to the racks, and the fish look really well fed and fat!
    Ed Rea

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