The Delta, A Half Day

[Image: California Delta Fly Fishing Report]Another tricky case of jet lag had me wide awake and bug-eyed at 3AM this morning, despite going to bed at midnight. My flight had departed at 2pm and landed 11 hours later at 8am the same day; yeah, try and figure that one out.

I was toying with the idea of hitting the Delta in the morning but too many other responsibilities had stacked up over the week I’d been away. I’d pretty much decided to do the responsible thing, but then my Dad called, just before bedtime, and you know what fishy direction that conversation quickly went. I got off the phone all roweled up and ready to go battle it out with that magical school of 30 pound stripers that would surely be charging their way into that certain slough at dawn, but still, too many other things to take care of.

I finally went to bed around midnight after coming to a more than reasonable agreement with myself, “I won’t set the alarm clock and if I just happen to wake up before, say 4AM, I’ll load the truck and head for the Delta. If I sleep in… responsibilities, here I come”.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers, working birds]

That “certain slough” turned out to be a dud at sunrise but on my way to the next stop I caught a glimpse of some seagulls going nuts. Often it is a sea lion shredding a carp across the surface or a school of baby stripers tearing into a school of tiny bait fish, but every once in a rare while it turns out to be schooly-size or better striped bass – possibly that magical school of fly-pouncing reckless 30 pounders?

It turned out to be a dinker blitz. They were smacking the surface over an acre of fast moving water, some of them within 2 or 3 feet from the boat. You could even see the little eyeballs of the tiny bait chased to the surface just before getting mowed down by a 90mph 14″ dink.

I had to scale the fly down a ways before I got into them but once I found the right size it was diaper striper fly fishing at its finest!

[Image: baby striper]

[Image: working birds on the California Delta]

Once I had my fill I got back to the 30 pounder hunt. There was an amazing number of boats on the water for a weekday, and surprisingly they were mostly fly fishers.

The next couple spots had boats in them so I kept moving until I found an empty one. There was an annoying breeze but it was manageable.

[Image: California Delta schooly striper]

I found another little guy and kept moving, but spot after spot had at least 1 other boat in it, and some of them had 2 or even more, and again, they were 90% fly fishermen! Do people work any more?

I finally said to heck with it and quietly trolling-motored my way around this boat, between those boats, past that guy and around the corner. Just before reaching the spot I was heading for there was a decent sized slap on the water 50 ft’ out. I grabbed my rod from the stripping bucket, fired off a cast and was hooked up on the 4th or 5th strip!

[Image: 5 pound California Striper]
5 pound bully

I quickly boga’d him to calibrate my sights just as a bass boat came tearing around the corner. So much for my stealthy approach.

The tide was slacking out but I still had some time to hit a few more spots on my circuit, none of which really paid out.

[Image: Fly fishing for Delta Stripers October 2008]

[Image: Fly fishing black bass,  Dan Blanton Whistler]

The tide slacked, the jet lag set back in, and I headed for the marina.