California Delta

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Jan 13, 2005
What's a 'slough'?

Steve, it's not quite the dictionary definition, but we use 'slough' to describe one of the hundreds of interlinking channels that form the California delta (aka the Sacramento/San Joaquin delta), in and around the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers as they flow down into San Francisco bay. See this  for a pictorial sketch - the blue bits are water  :)  The sketch shows only a fraction of the sloughs which together provide 1200 miles of waterway but, if you click on various areas of the sketch, it will bring up various sections of the navigation chart for the area.
Steve, a picture tells a thousand words. Attached are three photos I took on the way out today:

  • Indian Slough, the slough that leads into/out of Discovery Bay.
  • A few miles away on another slough, a railroad bridge (one of many Delta drawbridges) that had just opened for us to pass through.
  • San Joaquin river, the smaller of the two main delta rivers.


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Here's a photo I took while fishing from the dinghy this morning - looking back down Hog Island Slough where we're safely moored for the weekend.


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Arial view of one corner of Mildred Island. The island flooded some years ago when a levee broke, and now forms a popular anchorage. The group of boats is the annual "Circle of fun" raft-up of the Sea Ray Boat Club of Northern California, held on the Labor Day holiday weekend. In the background is Middle River that runs past the west end of the "island" and some of the farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley.

edit: fixed typo.


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Solano county sheriff's boat.


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Looks like the Amazon doesn't it? I took that photo up at Prospect Slough a few years ago.
A couple of RVs on levee roads. The van has stopped for some fishing, while the class C driver is still looking for his/her perfect spot.

Note that many levee roads on the CA delta are blacktop, although these photos show dirt roads. Roads into delta campgrounds listed in another topic are virtually all blacktop.


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Bacon Island bridge, crossing Middle River, has just opened to allow us through. This is a small road bridge for one of the dirt levee roads.


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Tom said:
Bacon Island bridge, crossing Middle River, has just opened to allow us through. This is a small road bridge for one of the dirt levee roads.


Does the bridge for the dirt road require an full-time bridge operator?
A couple of fishermen in search of bass on the CA delta.


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Jeff /Washington said:
Does the bridge for the dirt road require an full-time bridge operator?

Jeff, some bridges are tended 24 hours while others are not. Check the photo for the answer to this one. There are alternate routes when some bridges, including this one, are closed. But others are your only way through.


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Sounds like you know the delta like the the back of your hand. 
When I first started going out on it a year ago I took someones advise and bought a GPS.  Boy am I glad I did.  Within 5 minutes of driving around you can get totally lost!  That place is a maze if I ever saw one!
Smart move to buy a GPS. We've boated on the Delta for 20 years or so. First time we ventured out, we didn't have a map or chart and GPS hadn't been invented. If you don't already have one, get a copy of Hal Schell's Delta Map, available at most bait/tackle shops and marinas around the Delta. You can also get it by clicking here. The map, although not for navigation purposes, gives you a great perspective on the Delta and contains lots of useful information on it, including fishing and boating tips.

Hal is a Delta legend, the original river rat. He lived on his boat on the Delta for many years and has been a prolific writer on life in the Delta. But I think that health problems eventually made him and his wife give up the river rat lifestyle.
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