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On April 9 and 10 The Fish Sniffer took part in a unique fishing challenge when Captain Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sportfishing, Captain David Hammond of Delta Pro Fishing and Captain Brad Bugica of SalmonStriper.com squared off for two days of trolling for Delta stripers. The goal was to determine which skipper would catch the most and largest stripers over two full days of fishing.
When Fish Sniffer staffer Ernie Marlan and I got wind of the plan we got involved and turned it into a full-blown Fish Sniffer event. We promoted the trip and put together prize packages for the Fish Sniffer supporters that took part. Since the Cal Kellogg School of Fishing is sponsored by the Berkley, Abu Garcia, Penn, Fenwick and others there would be plenty of cool prizes to go around.
Ernie and I along with Brad, Jay and David pulled into Brannan Island State Recreation Area early on the morning of April 9 and we were soon joined by an enthusiastic group of Fish Sniffers.
The plan for the day was for Ernie to fish aboard Brad’s boat, while I’d be teamed with Captain Hammond. Jay would be on his own without a Fish Sniffer staffer aboard his boat.
After dropping the boats into Three Mile Slough, we all motored around the corner and into the Sacramento River. After running across the river we set up to make our first trolling pass along the Sacramento’s fabled “West Bank” down river from the city of Rio Vista.
Spring striper trolling in the Delta peaks in April so we expected to catch plenty of fish. With Dave steering the boat, I helped tend the rods as our anglers spooled out shallow running plastic worm adorned Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows. With the plugs working well, David varied the speed from 4.5 to 6 miles per hour.
The conditions looked to be perfect, but the bite was a little slow. It took us a while to hook the first fish of the day, but when we did it turned out to be a beautiful 8 pounder.
When the bite tapered off on the West Bank we hit the area known as the “Dairy”. After a few missed strikes and lost worm tails, David suggested that we head up the deep water channel above Rio Vista.
“There is quite a lot of boat traffic down here. Let’s head up river. I think we can get away from these boats and we’ve been hooking some pretty husky bass up there,” David related.
Almost as soon as we got our plugs back into the water, we hooked up and put a beautiful 9 pounder into the box. We thought we’d found a honey hole, but when we didn’t get anymore action over the next half hour we were on the move again.
We ended up finishing out day one working the Dairy and West Bank for two more bass to 8 pounds. At around 2 o’clock we headed back to the dock to see how the other boats had done.
Captain Brad and Captain Jay had both landed limits of bass. Jay’s 10.5 pound bass was the biggest of the day, so he was the day one champion. Who would take the honors on day two?
Day Two And The Overall Champion…
Ernie had some obligations to take care of on day two of the contest, so he didn’t come out. I was planning on joining Captain David Hammond again on day two, but I came down with a bug and had to sit the trip out too.
“You guys came on the wrong day,” quipped Jay Lopes. “The action was way better on day two. I took the top spot again but we all landed some really good quality fish. On my boat we had a 17 pounder a 14 and a couple 12’s along with limits of smaller bass.”
Well there you have it…Captain Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sportfishing secured “trolling bragging rights” for the 2013 spring trolling season. Jay, David and Brad are all great anglers and they are pretty competitive, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself hosting a “2nd Annual Battle Of The Delta” event next April!
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