The Fish Sniffer - Chasing Rockfish And Lingcod With The Delta Defenders
Chasing Rockfish And Lingcod With The Delta Defenders

Written By: Dan Bacher, August 29, 2014
Species: Lingcod Rockfish Halibut
Location: Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay,

Chasing Rockfish And Lingcod With The Delta Defenders
Chasing Rockfish And Lingcod With The Delta Defenders

For years, Roger Mammon, President of the West Delta Chapter of the California Striped Bass Association (CSBA), has been asking me when I see him at protests against the peripheral tunnels and meetings at the State Capitol, “When are we going fishing together?”

Finally I had the chance to go with Roger and other members of the West Delta Chapter fishing when both Cal Kellogg, fellow Fish Sniffer Editor and I had a day free to fish outside of the Golden Gate with Captain James Smith of the California Dawn. It was great to go fishing with the guys who are always there in defense of the Delta and its fisheries.

In fact, the only one from the association on the boat that I had gone fishing with before before was Jim Cox, President of the State CSBA Board, when he was skippering a live bait and sturgeon boat out of Loch Lomond Marina and San Rafael.

I have spent hundreds of hours with the CSBA folks at protests and rallies against the tunnels, BDCP meetings and hearings, and public meetings to stop the DFW from imposing a mad plan to eradicate striped bass. 

Some history is in order. The California Striped Bass Association (CSBA) originated with a chapter in Stockton, California on April 14, 1974 and remains the oldest fresh-water fishing club in the state of California.  

The CSBA is a non-profit organization to preserve, conserve and enhance striped bass while promoting recreational sport fishing, environmental awareness and good fellowship. CSBA is one of the largest and most active fishing clubs in the Central Valley.

In addition to the original Stockton chapter, other chapters have been established in Modesto, West Delta, Isleton, Sacramento, Fresno, Colusa, and Ukiah. A State Board, which is composed of three members from each chapter, is the governing body for all nine chapters. The chapters have activities throughout the year for members such as derbies, potluck dinners, picnics, workshops, seminars and fundraising activities. 

Kellogg and I got there early at the boat, but CSBA members, apparently earlier risers, were already there on the boat. We got spots on the bow, where we both like to fish.

Along with Mammon, Cox and other West Delta Chapter members on the boat, we were fishing with Modesto Chapter members Terry and Joyce Peters and Mo Adams, president of the Sacramento Chapter of the CSBA. Gary Adams, another regular at rallies and protests, also fished on the trip.

“We started this trip aboard the California Dawn three years ago to promote camaraderis and to attract new members,” said Mammon, who is also Secretary of the Board of Directors of Restore the Delta and President of the Lower Sherman Island Duck Hunters Association. “Last year we ended up with limits of lingcod and limits of rockfish. In fact, we caught over 15 lingcod on one drift.”

After filling the bait tanks with live anchovies at the bait dock at Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco, Captain Smith drove the boat up the Marin Coast to Duxbury Reef. “Yesterday there was a lot of jellyfish at Point Reyes, so we found better rockfish and lingcod action while fishing a number of spots along the coast including Duxbury Reef,” said Captain Smith.

The seas were flat clam. When we arrived at the spot, Cal and I both put on Berkley Gulp Baits, which had produced lots of rockfish and lingcod on a previous trip on the boat. James Smith also put on a swimbait.

The fishing started off slowly. I was getting bites, but the fish weren’t sticking. James Smith finally caught a quality black rockfish.

 In addition to joining the boat jackpot, James Cox and I engaged in a side bet of who would catch the biggest lingcod. Cox’s wife and him began to catch rockfish on the shrimp flies, so I switched to over to P-Line shrimp flies also and began putting rockfish in the boat.

James Smith told folks over the radio that he could see some mackerel on the graph as he made a drift. And people began picking up some mackerel and live rockfish.

I was stoked when I caught what I considered perfect live bait on my shrimp fly and carefully put it in the bucket. I went to get my lingcod rod, outfitted with a trap rig. However, when I got back, the bait was missing from the bucket!

“Where did it go?” I asked. I saw a big grin on Kellogg’s face. He had taken my bait and sent it down to entice a lingcod. However, the law of karma displayed itself; Kellogg quickly lost four lingcod in a row.

Meanwhile, I kept catching rockfish. When I had about five quality black and blue rockfish in the sack, I switched over to targeting lingcod with a two-hook stinger trap rig. I soon brought up a keeper lingcod about 7 pounds and lost another lingcod, a hitchhiker.

Meanwhile, Cal had put a keeper lingcod and some rockfish in the. The fishing picked up as the tide began moving and everybody was catching rockfish.

However, it was the folks on the stern that saw the day’s hottest bite. Through the morning and afternoon, George White landed an amazing 7 lingcod, including a 14 pounder.

Cindy Mammon, Roger’s wife, caught a big lingcod on a shrimp fly jig. Ryan Walker, a 12-year-old boy who had never been ocean fishing before, caught a limit of rockfish.

Roger himself ended up with a 25-inch lingcod and a limit of rockfish. We stopped rockfishing when we ended up with limits of rockfish and 25 lingcod. “We’re going to try for halibut on the South Bar,” said Smith.

Mike Hall of the West Delta Chapter landed the jackpot fish of the day, a 16 lb. halibut, while Jim Lozano, also a West Delta Chapter member, landed another quality flattie. I hooked a halibut, but it got lost when somebody on the other side of the boat hooked my line and the halibut broke free.

It was a great day of fishing with the the “Delta Defenders,” guys who talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to fighting against the peripheral tunnels and working for the restoration of our fisheries.

Mammon noted that the West Delta Chapter has scheduled its annual Kid’s Derby at Contra Loma Reservoir on October 18 from 8 am to noon. I have covered this excellent event, free from kids from 3 to 12 years old, many times. This derby was originally started by the latte Comply Compomizzo as part of program “Hooked on Fishing, Not On Drugs,” program.

Mammon urges all anglers to mobilize against the water bond, Proposition 1, now on the November ballot.

“The water bond has some good parts, but also some bad parts that benefit the construction of the peripheral tunnels, including $485 million to purchases public water to mitigate for the destruction caused by the project. This water, where the public is asked by buy water for ‘the environment,’ could be pumped through the state and federal pumps to mega farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley,” he concluded.

For more information about the West Delta Chapter of the CSBA, call Roger Mammon at 925-625-0590.

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