Here's a post I posted on another forum from last year's fishing trip with my oldest brother.* I just came across it and thought some of you guys might enjoy the ride.
Day 1 Sat
Stock boat with beer, food, beer, bait, beer, ice and beer. We know that if we need more beer, we can get some along the way. We stock up on bait at Rio Vista Bait and get a tip on the Cache Slough sturgeon's preference for small strips of eel wrapped in nightcrawlers, so we grab some nightcrawlers, too.
I had pre-cooked most of the meals in the week before the trip and froze them in plastic bags. We set up our 165 qt food cooler with 4 large 12"x12"x2" dry ice squares, 3 frozen one gallon water jugs and lots of food partitioned and stacked in order of use to minimize digging. Our goal was to keep everything frozen for as long as possible, hoping to last the entire eight days with little or no refrigerator use.
We took a short 20 minute run to Bedroom One, a popular anchorage on Potato Slough, to test drive the new windlass. The windlass and all boat systems operated as expected and we return to my marina to wrap up a couple projects and enjoy a 20 oz Prime Rib dinner for $20 at Happy Harbor restaurant on the Delta Loop before launching into the delta tomorrow. Could only finish half the dinner, so the other half goes with us on our journey.
The boat is prepped and ready...just need to start engines and cast off lines at first light. We can't wait 'til tomorrow...
Day 2 Sun
Off and running at 6:30 AM after a quick shower and cup of coffee. We arrive in the Cache Slough area at 9AM in the middle of the outgo and are marking BIG fish so thick I thought I might hit them with my props. We set anchor and fished near the mouth of Prospect Slough and Lindsey Slough. We soaked eel/nightcrawlers, ghost/pile and eel/pile with only one catfish to show for our efforts! We missed a couple takedowns. We watched a keeper caught in the boat 150 yards away. No other fish seen caught by boaters or bankers. Stayed all day and set anchor in Prospect Slough for the night for protection from the wind. Fished until 11PM for nada. There's always tomorrow...
Day 3 Mon
At daybreak, we head back into Cache and set anchor to place us near the spot the boater landed the keeper yesterday. The area was full of fish, but still no takers.
Side story: A couple months ago in typical Anglernetter fashion, OMP made me an offer I couldn't refuse on a deluxe upholstered deck chair he was using on a FlyWright fishing trip. He didn't want to have to store it and knew I could use it on my boat. I got it from him, telling him I knew one would never be enough and I'd now have to buy a second for my wife.
My cellphone rings...it's Scott of the Rocklin West Marine. They have a deck chair I had ordered 2 weeks ago for this trip. He knew I was on the delta and wanted to deliver the chair to us wherever it was convenient for us! We agreed to meet later in the day at the Brannan Island launch ramp. I couldn't believe this level of service.
At the end of the incoming, the wind picked up and started blowing us toward the tree-lined north levee. I fired up the engines to power out of there with the anchor still set and quickly fouled both props in the anchor line! I missed the fact that the tides had eased allowing us to drift over some of our anchor line! $#%&%$#!!!
The tides turned and we drifted to shore, so we tied to the nearest tree and called Vessel Assist for a rescue. I advised them of our situation and asked for a diver and a possible tow back to our marina if there was any damage to the running gear. I heard from Capt. Phil Delano, a Facebook friend of mine, that he was on his way and would be there in 2 hrs. So we did what any good angler would do under these circumstances...we continued fishing!!
Vessel Assist arrived with dive gear to free us from the line. Unable to unwrap it, he cut what was stuck, returning 30 feet to me onboard. The other 270 ft of rode was still connected to the anchor, so they retrieved the anchor for me and passed it over to us. Next we were towed to mid-channel where we started both engines, checking transmissions and rudder travel...all was well with no apparent damage. We dodged a bullet on this one! When I tested reverse, I snapped the tow line, leaving a spliced loop of poly line on my Sampson post. This is now my treasured rescue trophy and a reminder not to do anything else stupid this trip. We signed the paperwork and were on our way. My $58 per year Vessel Assist tow coverage just saved me a $1300 rescue bill!
It's now about noon, so we started toward Brannan Island and Decker Island for some fishing and our rendezvous with West Marine for our new deck chair. We knew a storm was headed our way and I wanted to tuck into Montezuma Slough for the night tied to a friend's duck club dock on a protected section of the slough.
With the wind increasing out of the SW, we headed for the protection of Decker Island. We got a diaper striper and a Sacramento Pike on shad in Horseshoe Bend, but nothing of any size. As 6PM approached, we headed for the BI slips and met the WM delivery guys at the launch ramp. As nice as OMP's chair is, this one is even nicer! It's like a throne! I offer it to my older brother to enjoy for the remainder of the trip. He prefers the shorter one, so I sat in style for the week loving every minute of it!!
It's now coming up on 7:30 and we've got to run an hour to Monte, so we head out to beat nightfall and the storm. We arrive into the safety on Monte Slough at 8:30, 35 minutes past sunset, but with enough light to safely navigate. Life is good! Still no keepers to brag about, but there's always tomorrow...
Day 4 Tues
The storm is here, but we are protected in Monte. So far, no problems with boat systems, except for one intermittent stbd start switch that I can't seem to fix. New solenoid, new switch, check wiring continuity...nothing solves the problem for long. So I just jump the solenoid with my trusty screwdriver and all is well. We plan to troubleshoot the problem this morning, but we can't get it to fail. We'll try another time.
The Honda generator is getting a good workout, supplying us with 120v power for microwave, coffeepot and heaters. Plenty of fuel, water and holding tank capacity, so we're doing fine.
He decide to run the length of Montezuma Slough, into Grizzly Bay and Suisun Bay to check out the Mothball Fleet. It's a rainy, windy day, but it's calm in the slough and FlyWright can handle the rougher waters of the bay.
After taking in the sights and about 50 pictures, we continue through Suisun Cutoff and the Middle Grounds to the Antioch Marina where we can get a covered slip for the stormy night, boat diesel, generator gas, refill the water and pumpout. We arrive :15 before closing and enjoy an evening in my friend Bob's home marina. We find the ShilaJ, Bob's boat and admire her lines and freshly refinished teak.
It's my brother, Mark's, birthday today, so we celebrate in the slip with his favorites; German brats, red cabbage and mac-n-cheese (and lots of beer).
No fishing today with this weather, but there's always tomorrow...
Day 5 Wed
The storm continues, but the forecast says it'll begin to break up around 2PM. We tinker through the morning with misc. boat projects like adding drawer handles and servicing engine oil and adding a water system check valve. By 2PM, it's looking better, so we head out under the Antioch Bridge, into Threemile Slough and tie up to the Outrigger dock. The bar is still closed for the season, so we can stay for free and be secure and out of the wind.
We break out the shad and toss the lines in for a little fishing before dinner. My brother catches his first fish, an undersize striper. The weeds are bad and the tide turns, so we stick to eating and drinking. Besides, there's always tomorrow...
Day 6 Thurs
We had hoped to meet up with Reel Kahuna (aka Seon) for some striper trolling today, but the waters were looking pretty muddy after the last 2 days of rain. We had cancelled yesterday and decided to just fish the area for the day on bait at the Powerlines and troll if we got the itch. No hits at the powerlines on eel, shad, ghost, pile or some super-rare salmon roe given to me by my friend Leon.
We decided to give trolling a try, and I showed Mark, how we do it with deep diving Yozuris. I planned to target the 12-15 ft water and ran at 2.5 mph with the lures 100-140 back, occasionally tapping the bottom. I drove and Mark kept tabs on the lures. After losing one to a snag about 10 minutes into the troll of the west bank, Mark wanted to quit to save the lures. "What for?" I argued, "if we gonna troll right, we're gonna hit bottom and sometimes we'll lose lures. It's the cost of doing business." So we continued our troll and about 15 minutes later, he's hooked into an obvious keeper. He fights him for 2-3 minutes only to lose him about 15 feet from the boat. We never saw him, but it fought pretty hard.
That hit and miss kept us motivated, but we never saw another hit. We quit when we reached Sandy Beach and pulled into Rio Vista to refill the ice.
There we found the public dock marked "Welcome" and "Two hour limit without prior permission" and "Dock closed". We chose to believe the "Welcome" sign and tied up there anyway. After a short walk to Haps for some ice and banter with Alison, we were ready to shove off. Once again, the stbd engine wouldn't crank, so we broke out the tools to troubleshoot the problem.
Now, obviously, we are not really great anglers, but we are apparently much better anglers than electrical troubleshooters since we could not fix it and still have the same issues. After spending an hour on the problem, we give up and decide to spend the night at Outrigger again.
One keeper that got away today. Looking forward to going back to Cache Slough for our last day of fishing tomorrow...
Day 7 Fri
Up at the crack of nine (must have been the beer!) and underway toward Cache Slough. We fished the incoming until midday at the mouth of the deepwater channel at Cache Slough. Lots of fish marking the area and quite a few striper trollers working the banks. At the top of the tide, we head toward Prospect/Cache/Lindsey to compete with the bankers who are lined up almost shoulder-to-shoulder. We throw the full inventory of bait at them relentlessly throughout the afternoon and evening. Not one stinking hit for all our efforts, so we head into the protection of Prospect Slough for a night on the hook.
We head up about 400 yards or so past the first island and set the hook with good wind protection and plenty of room to swing with the wind and tides. As the outgo ends around 8PM, we swing in the breeze, so we stop fishing and eat dinner.
Side story: My brother drinks Natural Ice beer and I gave him a hard time all week about the large amount of beer he brought onboard. I told him there better not be any left after the week because it's considered hazmat in CA and we can't easily dispose of it...even peeing it overboard would be very detrimental to our fragile delta. So in good-natured fun, it became a theme and on the last day, he declared that it would all be gone...guaranteed. This set the stage for a loaded older brother in the wee hours since he started drinking at noon to finish the beer...
As the incoming starts, Mark declared that he's done fishing. He doesn't care if he catches a fish...either way, it was still the best trip of his life. I encouraged him to at least keep one rod in and we fished the night with 3 rods instead of 4. As midnight approached, I began to accept the fact that we really sucked as anglers after spending a whole week on the water without a single respectable fish to show for it. I wanted to leave the lines out as we went to bed, but knew they'd just end up under the boat and could foul the rudders, so I figured I better bring them in. It's 5 minutes before midnight on our last night on the water...our last chance to fish...one more beer...
Just then, it hit!! The rod I had been fishing all week, a custom rod built for my best friend's Dad with a Shimano Tekota 500 linecounter with fresh 65 lb PowerPro, dipped. I grab the rod with a strip of eel/nightcrawlers and set the hook once...FISH ON!!! I set the hook again...she's not getting off. She runs like there's no tomorrow. She's out 200 ft before I get her stopped. Having never caught a sturgeon bigger than 31 inches, I couldn't tell from the fight how big she was, but I knew she was big.
Over the next 45 minutes, the fish and I fought it out. It was going to be a knock-down, drag-out if I had anything to do with it. I'd pull her in toward the boat, then she'd make a run for 50-80 feet. I'd work her back in to within 20 ft of the boat, she'd take off to 130 ft. It was a dark night with a single flood light on the water. Occasionally, we see a flash of tail or a shaking head at the surface, but mostly, she stayed submerged and out of sight.
Mark, now thoroughly inebriated from the afternoon beer sprint, cleared the deck of rods and obstructions, clearing the way for me to move freely around the boat. Fortunately, she stayed toward the back of the boat most of the time, making only two runs forward but I was able to turn her under the boat before she got to the anchor line. Whew!!
Mark grabbed the net and snare, but as soon as she surfaced the first time, we knew the net was useless. We estimated her length at 6-7 feet in the brief moment we saw her. As the fight continued, her runs weakened and she eased closer to the boat. Finally, she turned belly-up and she surrendered boatside. She now looked larger than our initial estimate!!
Mark grabbed the pfd's and we each donned them before attempting to handle this fish. I explained to Mark how the snare worked, but he couldn't get the loop over the fish's head. It barely fit, so I handed him the rod and I took the snare. After positioning the snare and tightening it up (only 2-3 inches of spare cable at the end!!!), I handed Mark the snare and I tied a boat line to my waist and the aft rail. I figure if I fall in next to this fish on a snare in my brother's grip, I'm a goner! I'm pretty sure he'll keep the fish and wish me luck.
I ventured out onto the swimstep next to this monster of the deep. I tried to measure its length, but I couldn't do it. The fish was too long for the reach of my arms and the tape was too flimsy to lay at one end and measure to the other. Besides, the fish was still thrashing about somewhat. So, I maneuvered the nose to the stbd edge of the swimstep and marked the tail on the step, then went back to measure that distance...exactly 90 inches!! 7 feet, 6 inches!!! I couldn't believe it!!
My brother had been taking pictures during the battle and I was concerned about the health of the fish, so I immediately removed the hook, released the snare, pet the fish one last time and watched her swim back into the deep, dark delta waters. The time was 12:45 AM on the last day of our trip.
For the next hour and a half, I was hooting and hollering, enjoying an adrenalin high that kept me from sleeping. Shortly after 2AM, we called it a night after the perfect grand finale of a fantastic week on the water with my brother!!
Day 8 Sat
At 730 AM, I awoke with a grin recalling the past night's battle with a delta dinosaur! Mark was a bit slow in waking, but confirmed it was not a dream!! We relived the night a while, then prepped for our trip back through the delta to Riverboat Marina.
It was a beautiful 2 ½ hr trip back home with the two of us loving every minute of it. We knew the trip was coming to an end, but we also knew we experienced a trip of a lifetime and started planning for the Great Sturgeon Excursion of 2012 because there's always tomorrow!!
Total Trip miles: 155 miles
Engine operating hrs: 24.5hrs
Estimated Sturgeon Weight from online tables: 220 Lbs
Cooler results: All food remained frozen through Day 6, and cold through Day 8. The 3 one-gallon frozen water jugs still contained approx. ½ ice at the end of the trip.