Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tough day on the Delta, and a Merry Christmas to the WORLD!

Well, I got my last day of fishing in for 2008 . The week before Christmas, I braved a snowstorm here in Chicago (took 4-1/2 hours to drive the 50 miles to the airport - usually takes an hour), spent the majority of the afternoon/ evening watching delays and cancellations pop up on the flight status boards, finally got on a plane, and got to San Francisco Airport at 2 AM (original time to land was 8 PM). The next morning, I met Lennie and we were off for a day on the Delta.

A classic delta spot - water flows on the tidal changes from the channel to the pond and back

The Delta in question is the Sacramento River Delta, a vast series of creeks, sloughs, ponds, lakes and marsh grasses that eventually feeds into the San Francisco Bay. It's one of those places - like the mazes of mangroves in SW Florida - that would be nearly un-navigable without a GPS. I feel like I have a very good "inner compass", but I am lost on the Delta from minute we leave the marina until we return. It's Lennie's home waters, though, and since he's the Hummingbird rep, his boat is outfitted with all the good toys!

The Jigging Spoon we finally caught some fish on!

This area can get fairly cool in the winter, but rarely gets downright cold. Well, I brought Chicago's weather along with me , because it was freezing cold the day I was there. I wore 2 layers of Under Armour, one of them being Coldgear, a layer of fleece, a sweater, and a windproof jacket. Gloves, a full facemask, and a helmet when running the boat. Still froze. A constant wind kept us company, and the temp never got above 36. It had frozen the puddles the night before - pretty uncommon for this area. And, worst of all, it dropped the water temps to the low 40's. We were fishing for stripers that come up out of the Bay, and with the water temp as cold as it was, they simply didn't show themselves. We fished all day, I got 1 striper on a swimbait, and we finally found a group of fish on the electronics late in the day that allowed us to vertical jig spoons for them. Three schoolie stripers, a few short strikes, and 2 carp on the spoons rounded out the day. Yes, the carp HIT the spoons. I'd never gotten them on spoons before, but have caught them fairly often on jigs. I lost one big fish that we weren't sure was a carp or striper, estimated 20#. Since neither of us saw it, we decided it must have been a striper! (Poetic license being used, since I'm the blog writer. Actually, I don't care what it was - it pulled hard for the minute or so it was on).

Len's Carp on a jigging spoon

Our stripers from the Delta

For those not familiar with the Delta, it is absolutely filled with birds of all kinds. this is prime waterfowl season, and we saw a number of hunters. The air and trees / shrubs are full of raptors, too. Flocks of Sandhill Cranes are constantly on the move, and in the afternoon, uncountable numbers of Snow Geese were on the move from their feeding fields to the water. It's a truly astonishing place, even if I was freezing my butt off - did I mention it was cold?

So, we had a tough day of catching (a gross understatement) but, even with the trying conditions, it was another great day to be out. The only consolation came that evening, when Len called me to say he had talked to Bobby Barrack (the Dean of the Delta Guides) and Bobby had worked hard wit a client for 3 stripers. Some days, that's how it goes.

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and is looking forward to a wonderful 2009. All the economic doom-and-gloom aside, I can't wait to see what 2009 brings. It's the eternal optimist in me, I guess.


1 comment:

Mel said...

Hi Wolfy - Enjoyed your post on this trip to the Sacremento delta. Sorry to hear it was so cold for you. Sometimes the fish and weather conditions win, but, when we have everything going our way it is so much fun! Happy Holidays and hope you have a very successful new year.