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The Delta, Fall 2008, Day 1

Finally got out on the the Delta for the first trip of the season. With all the steelhead fishing lately I’ve got to say that 9′ 9wt felt awfully short and took some getting used to.

The first spot I hit was empty as well as the 2nd spot, but the 3rd stop paid off with a real bruiser that went a good 11 or 12… uh… inches.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

After a few of those little dinks I hit another nearby spot and got the first little blackie of the season.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

Things were looking good but the mornings outgoing was just about to bottom out and having been away from this fishery for the last 7 months I was on a serious cast & blast mission to visit as many spots as I could fit into one day. I quickly ran for the next spot a few miles away and got into this little dude.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

There was a slightly annoying little breeze picking up but nothing to affect the fishing. A couple of more casts and I’d have sworn I was into my first double-digit fish of the season! I let out an immediate “OUCH”! on the initial grab as the line ripped the blister off my index finger (a healing war wound from picking up a red-hot camp stove on last week’s steelhead trip) “Man can these guys pull”!

He was really putting the heat on as a grasped the line with my whole hand and struggled to keep my pounding finger out of it. He took me from the bow of the boat, out, around, and off the stern. “Woo Hoo”!

When I finally muscled the “definite double-digit” fish up to the surface I was shocked. I should have known better, the first strong striper, after being away from them for a while, manages to get me every time!

I boga’d him to calibrate my sights, made another cast –

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]
A mere 5 pounds

and was into his twin!

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

The tide bottomed out as I continued to cover the area over the next 10 minutes. When the water came to a complete halt I made a mad dash back to the marina for lunch.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

After waiting the slack tide out over a burger on the sun deck of Sugar Barge, and paying the launch fee I’d forgotten about during my early morning haste, I jumped back in the boat and impatiently idled my way back through the annoying “No Wake Zone” to the fast water (never exceeding the 5mph speed limit of course).

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

Once clear, the hammer went down and all 20 (of a supposed 35) horses propelled me to the next spot at a rocketing 23mph (which is funny, considering the older 25hp I’d recently retired for the “bigger/faster” motor pushed 25mph).

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

I fished through the next spot quickly as the water was just begining to move and then blasted for the next. All I could keep thinking was, “you know what spot would fish perfectly right now… “.

The process repeated for another 2 spots and then I hit the mother-load of dink fest!

They must have been stacked in there like cord-wood (I think that’s how the saying goes). I was having a blast playing with different flies and experimenting with different retrieves. They wouldn’t eat them all, but they would the majority of them. I was keeping count as they were grabbing on EVERY cast and at 8 I thought, “hmm, go for 10”? At 13 I got into a really nice one which surprised me as they’d all been small to that point. There was a bass boat coming around the corner so I didn’t get a shot of him but quickly boga’d him at 6 pounds, “Nice Fish”!

Once the bass boat was out of sight I resumed fishing and was up to 15 in 2 more casts. As I approached the 20 mark I kept telling myself I need to move on if I’m going to hit the rest of the spots on my list (and hopefully find a big one) but despite the monotony of cast, strip, yank, yank, yank, release – I couldn’t stop! I got to 20 and said fine, 20’s a nice round number and went to put my rod in the stripping bucket and somehow accidentally fired off one more cast. “OK, 21 that’s it, let’s go”.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

The water was glassy smooth and the sweat shirt had been put away as I made my way South.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

I got to the next spot, set up my drift, and haphazardly fired off the first cast. Strip, strip, str-WHAM!

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

My confidence immediately told me I’d found another mother-load, but after thoroughly covering the area over the next 20 minutes that proved not to be the case.

I fished my way over to the next spot I’d wanted to hit and got another blackie. There was no doubt what it was, it stopped the fly, darted for the surface, and jumped. Definitely not a striper, but every bit as welcome.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

After some lazy, unproductive fishing in the warm afternoon I headed back North to catch that magic hour closer to the marina.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

I fished another 3 or 4 spots as the light faded without finding any more fish.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

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