Sturgeon back in the CA delta

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Tom

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Looks like the sturgeon have returned to the CA delta after filling up on herring roe in San Francisco Bay. Lots of boats out on the Sacramento last weekend fishing for the diamond backs.

Our favorite bait is ghost shrimp, but folks also use grass shrimp.
 

FX

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Don't have time to go after those...still chasing after that huge striper!
I'm going to be out this friday and saturday.  I'll be using the usual, shad, and this time will also be trying mudsuckers.  I assume sturgeon will take both if offered.
 

Tom

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FX said:
I'll be using the usual, shad, and this time will also be trying mudsuckers. I assume sturgeon will take both if offered.

I've never caught a sturgeon on anything but grass shrimp or ghost shrimp, but that doesn't mean they won't take them. You'll need a way to keep the mudsuckers alive and will also need a long needle to thread the leader from its head to the tail.

Where will you be fishing? I hope the weather will be as nice as it was last weekend.
 

FX

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I'll be out at my new spot, on the west side of Decker Island.  I have a good feeling about that spot, plus it's much calmer than out in the main river.  You going to be out fri or sat.?
 

Tom

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Decker Island is an OK spot for sturgeon and, as you say, it's protected. But, if the conditions are anything like they were last weekend, you won't need to hide. You could, for example, try an hour on the edge of the shipping channel opposite the entrance to Horseshoe Bend. If the wind picks up, you can just duck behind Decker Island. Your best bet for sturgeon would be Broad Slough that connects the Sacramento to the San Joaquin, just south of the power poles. When we're out for several days fishing, if we don't anchor overnight there, we'll duck into the Antioch Marina for an overnight stay.

We'll be at the Pittsburg Yacht Club this weekend. Probably head out tomorrow (Wed). We have some folks joining us aboard for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, then a bunch of other boats will join us Friday through Sunday. I'll have the dinghy on board, so I'll probably drop a line in Broad Slough on one of the days if I can get to a bait shop.
 

Tom

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caltex said:
Tom, if you are fishing in the dingy and hook a 7 footer, he may pull you all the way to the mothball fleet!

That's true, but it would be quite a ride! Maybe we'll anchor the big boat to fish; It's only a hop, skip and a jump from there to the yacht club.
 

FX

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Seriously now.  Has anyone ever been pulled by a sturgeon?  I have heard it's been done but have never talked to anyone who has had it done to them. 
 

Tom

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Whenever we've caught sturgeon, we've always been firmly anchored. Caltex was talking about the possibility that I'd hook a big sturgeon while fishing from the dinghy. The sturgeon would have no difficulty taking me for a ride.
 

FX

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I guess the sturgeon are out there!  I was out fri & sat.  When I pulled the boat out on sat., I parked next to the 3 boats which had just pulled out.  Everyone from all 3 boats were standing around talking.  I joined in and asked how they did.  All 3 of the boats had at least 1 sturgeon inside.    These guys said they ONLY use salmon roe. 
I will be going out with The Fish Hooker charter next month.  I hear that guy is one of the best for striper & sturgeon.
 

Tom

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Sturgeon just love herring roe, so I assume they'd also like salmon roe. I've never used it, but I understand that you need to use cheesecloth to keep it on the hook.

While we were berthed at the Pittsburg YC over the weekend, boats were going out fishing and coming back with their limit of sturgeon. One guy said he was using eels.
 

FX

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Well it's about time I catch one!  One of the guys was telling me the sturgeon just barely nibble on the bait and once you set the hook it was like you caught onto a large island.  Must be fun.
 

Tom

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They are hook shy but, once the hook is set, hang on. It takes a long time to get them off the bottom but, once they get near the surface, they make spectacular leaps out of the water.
 

FX

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Been doing a lot of research.  Last friday was fishing at Lake Camanche with a guy who gave me quite a few pointers on Sturgeon fishing.  He said over the years he must have caught 100's.
I am bound and determined to catch one so I'm taking this friday off and going the hit Rio Vista again.  Not really sure what to do if I catch one...don't know how to clean them. 
 

Tom

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Sturgeon at Lake Camanche? (Just kidding). It's been many years since I was on that lake. I used to trailer a boat behind a motorhome, launch the boat and camp lakeside with several other couples. How was the fishing there?

Before we first went fishing for sturgeon in the Delta, I'd bought my wife a book called "San Francisco Bay Sturgeon" by Abe Cuanang. It's an easy to read book that is well illustrated and, although its title says SF Bay, the techniques are equally applicable in the Delta. My wife read it from cover to cover in one sitting, put it down and gave me a list of what she needed - pole, reel, line, SS leader, hooks, weights and bait. First time out, she picked the spot and caught her 85 pounder. Not huge by sturgeon standards, but quite a respectable first fish. It took her an hour to bring it to the boat and the leaps out of the water were quite spectacular.

Cleaning a sturgeon is straightforward. Cut off the diamonds off the back. Cut around the tail just ahead of the fin, grab the tail and twist while pulling out the long membrane. Remove the head and fins and gut it as you would any other fish. Sturgeon don't have bones, but that membrane serves are their spine.

I don't know if Abe's book is still in print (I just checked amazon.com and they say it's not), but you might be able to pick up a used copy. He also has a companion book on striper fishing that will really get you excited. He does/did all his fishing in the bay but his recommendations for tackle and techniques can also be used in the delta.

I just ran a Google on Abe and it looks like he'll be presenting at a seminar in the Sacramento Sportsmen's Exposition being held January 19-22, 2006. Here's the link to the seminar schedule and the link to the exposition info. If Abe's talks are anything like his books, these should be great seminars.
 

caltex

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It's been so long since I cleaned one I have forgoten the procedure.  But there are no bones.  One way is to pull the spinal cord out and cut the rest into steaks (also cut the skin off, its kinda tough).
 

FX

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Thanks.  Once again, good info.  I do have Abe's book on sturgeon fishing. 
Funny you should make the crack about sturgeon fishing at Camanche.  I was of course fishing for trout.  Didn't even get a bite, but then again neither did the guy next to me and he even spend the first 4 hours at the trout pond.  Not even a nibble.  Anyway, I was reading the handout on Camanche they give you when you pay which tells your limits on the fish there, and the list includes sturgeon - limit one!  Hmmm
 

Tom

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FX said:
I do have Abe's book on sturgeon fishing.

Ah, good. Your message made me go dig ours out. It's definitely a great book and shows a few monster sturgeon.

....the handout on Camanche they give you .... and the list includes sturgeon - limit one!

Maybe that's just a quote from CA DFG regulations. I somehow doubt there are any sturgeon in there.
 

Tom

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Here's what can happen to your sturgeon as you reel it in. We were fishing near the mothball fleet in Benicia, I hooked a sturgeon and, before I could bring it to the boat, a hungry seal came by and had a free lunch.
 

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FX

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Great pic!  Still better than anything I've caught!
 

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