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Written By: Cal Kellogg, February 6, 2014
Location: Suisun Bay,
A few days back I headed out on my first sturgeon fishing adventure of 2014. With three brand new sturgeon tags burning a hole in my pocket and reports of a huge concentration of diamondbacks in the upper reaches of Suisun Bay I was more than ready to feel the fight of my first sturgeon of 2014!
“The good news is that we’ll be fishing over a bunch of sturgeon. The bad news is that they haven’t really been feeding for the past few days,” related Captain David Hammond of Delta Pro Fishing as we readied Dave’s big North River for launching at Brannon Island State Park.
“The fish we are targeting were way down towards the lower end of Suisun Bay. When the flows coming out of the American River were cut a few days ago, the fish moved up the bay, but they’ve been off the bite ever since they moved. There are so many fish, that when they do decide to feed the fishing should be breathtaking. Hopefully the feeding will start today. We’ve got calm conditions, quality bait and a great outgoing tide,” Captain Dave continued.
After motoring out of Three Mile Slough, Hammond dropped the hammer and we speeded down the river towards Pittsburg. Dave slowed the boat about a half mile above Buoy 33 and the sonar screen immediately came alive with arches of all sizes. Just as Dave had indicated we were over a virtual motherlode of sturgeon, all we had to do is drop the anchor, toss out some baits and hope that it was breakfast time in sturgeon land!
Folks that have read my articles in The Fish Sniffer over the years know that I have a real love/hate relationship with sturgeon. I love to hook them and fight them, but waiting out your opportunities can be tedious.
After tossing out four rods baited with roe, eel and pile worms the waiting began…
“Clearly we are fishing, we’ve got a bunch of rods out and a selection of baits on the bottom, but I don’t really consider this fishing. Sturgeon fishing has a lot more in common with deer or elk hunting then it does with the other types of fishing we do here in California. Sturgeon fishing is really a trophy hunt. There will be times of great excitement, but there can also be long periods of inactivity that require a lot of patience and focus on behalf of the anglers. I always tell my clients that when you’re sturgeon fishing you are looking for the fish of a lifetime, so you’ve got to be willing to invest some time and patience to experience success,” Dave related as we waited out the first hour of the outgoing tide.
I think Dave is right on the mark with his assertions about sturgeon fishing. You can definitely tilt the odds of sturgeon fishing success in your favor by hiring a solid guide and keeping quality bait on the bottom, but in the end success often comes down to being patient and paying your dues. If you’ve yet to land a keeper, I can assure you that the excitement of the fight and the outstanding table fare a keeper provides more than make up for your investment in time and focus.
Time passed, the current increased and no sturgeon came knocking. Thinking ahead, David decided to pull the anchor and drop down river a bit.
“With the current pushing down, I think any of these fish interested in feeding probably moved down current. I want to get us anchored in a good spot for when the out going tide starts to back off. If we are going to hook up it will likely be in the last 90 minutes of this tide,” Hammond related.
I won’t go so far as to say that Dave thinks like a sturgeon, but I’ve got to confess that at times his ability to identify the specific times and places sturgeon will feed border on the supernatural.
We hadn’t been in our new position long when the first bite came and I found myself battling a sturgeon. I could tell right away that it wasn’t a keeper, but it was still a “big” fish that turned out to be well over 30 inches long.
A while later our second and final hook up of the day came. This fish was stronger and the fight took longer, but once again it turned out to be a jumbo shaker. The first fish had gobbled roe, while the second one sucked up a pile worm.
We fished out the rest of the out going tide without results and then called it a day. All in all it was a good way for me to start out my 2014 sturgeon hunt. Sure we hadn’t boated a keeper, but we’d gotten two bites and brought both of the fish to the boat. I’ve always figured that if you can find sturgeon and get them to hit, the difference between boating a shaker, keeper or oversize fish comes down to luck.
About Captain Hammond And What’s Coming Up For Delta Pro Fishing
I’ve had the opportunity to fish with Captain Dave several times over the past few years and I’ve always had a great time. David is true professional and he always puts a 100% effort into catching fish. Dave has been fishing the Delta, Bay and ocean for over 35 years. David has great passion for sturgeon, striper and salmon fishing and this really comes across when you spend time on his boat.
When I asked David what his 2014 season is going to look like this is what he told me.
“I’m going to continue to target sturgeon right through the spring months, but I’ll also be targeting stripers. The water temperature has nearly reached 50 degrees and since we’ve had zero rain the clarity is good. If the conditions don’t change I think we’ll be trolling very soon. I expect the bass action to be good in the Delta this spring. There are plenty of bass around right now. We are picking them up on a variety of baits while fishing for sturgeon. Without a big downstream push of water, I don’t think the bulk of the run is going far up the rivers this spring. Instead I think a lot of the spawning will take place right here in the Delta. When that happens it makes for an outstanding Delta trolling season.”
“Last year I fished the Delta through June and then spent the month of July nailing salmon, lingcod and rockfish out of Bodega Bay. The salmon bite was epic last season and we also boated plenty of big lingcod. I’ll be heading back up to Bodega this July. Hopefully we’ll find similar action,” exclaimed Hammond.Back To Reports
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