Delta, Top-Water Report

With flat-calm, windless 70 degree weather, a new 12 wt floating head, a hand full of new top-water flies, and a new million-candle-power spotlight I’d been anxious to put to the test I made a last minute run out to The Delta late in the afternoon. My hopes were that the last week’s storms were far enough behind us to have a few fish beginning to look up again at last-light. I arrived ~2 hours before sunset which allowed just enough time to launch the boat, make the 20 minute run to “the spot”, rig a 10wt rod, and test a few flies. It turned out that the majority of the “creations” I’d tied were complete junk, but one of the diver types was pretty sweet. At least that’s what I initially thought until I tied on a commercially tied trevally fly I’d picked up at the fly shop a while ago. That thing was awesome!

About an hour before sunset I had my first action, a small blackie took a suicide swipe at it about half way in. A half dozen casts later, the fly hits the water, maybe 80 feet out, and as I begin stripping and plopping at a medium pace a pretty good sized swell begins building behind the fly. As I began speeding up the retrieve and really tearing up the water, the swell closes in on it and is building.

About half way in and stripping as fast and wildly as possible, with, what from the size of its wake, could quite possibly be a sea lion, or maybe a really big beaver following it steadily and determinedly, I pull the “stop-the-fly” trick. A good percentage of the time that can seal-the-deal with a following fish, the fly stops, all is calm & peaceful for a second… and then POW! Not this time though! The swell begins to change course away from the fly so I throw a big “Kplunge!” into it and the swell turns back towards the fly. I stripped and stripped and stripped. That thing just steadily followed it the whole way in until finally, with the shooting head in my hand and the leader practically at the tip-top it BLEW UP ON THE FLY! Just kidding, that’s what I’d wished had happened. Instead it dropped down about 10 feet from the boat and I never did get a visual on it.

I continued fanning casts as I let the trolling motor slowly creep me along the weed edge about 150’ off the tules. I had a few more smaller blow-ups as the sun was dropping behind Mt Diablo that were most likely blackies, probably 1 every 10 casts or so until after the sun had completely set and the light was getting really low. After taking a 2 minute break to put a sweatshirt on and take a swig of water my next cast got blasted by a 5 pound stripper! The following 5 casts were the same. I’d begin plopping away when I’d see a boil behind the fly, “plop-plop-plop”, and BANG! They’d usually miss the hook and sink the fly but as I just kept stripping I could feel them still nailing it under water until they hooked themselves. Every one of them was in that 4 – 6 pound range! After those 6 casts the school began to spread out and I had to rely on sound and feel in the pitch dark. It was really cool; you’d hear the blow-up and just keep stripping until you felt the hook-up. After 30 minutes of fishing in complete darkness I called it a day and broke out the new spotlight and headed back for the marina. Like the new auto pilot trolling motor with co-pilot purchased earlier this season, I don’t know how I ever got by without a spot light in the past! (Thanks again Kelvin)