The doctor is out – fishing
Fishing and hunting
DR. RALPH MITARAI caught this 53-inch sturgeon last Saturday in San Pablo Bay.
Dr. Ralph Mitarai, who just retired from several decades as the pathologist at Sonoma Valley Hospital, wasted no time in getting his retirement off to a flying start last Saturday, landing a 53-inch, 50-pound sturgeon while fishing with his son, Rocky, and Capt. Jim Cox, of the “Touch of Grey” party boat that operates out of Loch Lomond.
They were fishing near the Pump House when Ralph hooked the keeper. Rocky had given the fishing trip to his dad as a gift last year, and the two of them enjoyed a great day, hooking several fish before Ralph landed the big one. The entire family feasted on sturgeon, which Ralph's wife, Heidi, prepared with a seasoning of lemon, butter, garlic and parsley.
Ralph's story is part of a sensational June of sturgeon fishing. In fact, many, including Bay Area sturgeon guru Keith Fraser, consider it the best sturgeon action in a very long time. Most of that fishing is in San Pablo Bay not too far off the mouth of Sonoma Creek, but you need to get there by boat.
Capt. Jim took the Touch of Grey out again on Sunday to the same area he took Ralph and Rocky the day before, and this time one of his clients hooked the largest sturgeon in the history of his boat. Jim estimated the fish to be 7.5-feet long and more than 150 pounds. Cox said, “This behemoth when hooked made an initial run of over 100 yards, jumped, and then an even faster run of another 200 yards, and we got the anchor up just in time as the reel was down to its last wraps of line.” They proceeded to fight the fish for more than an hour with drifting and chasing before releasing the fish next to the boat without handling.
This week the tides are even better, and already reports are coming in of lots of sturgeon hook-ups east of the Pump House and in the lower reaches of the Napa River. Art Donato, at Loch Lomond, noted that Jim Cook's boat had been out something like 12-straight days with at least one keeper sturgeon. Some days, many boats are having multi-fish days, including lots of contact with huge, oversized sturgeon that must be released.
Joel Sinkay, at Leonard's Bait Shop at Port Sonoma, is supplying bait to lots of anglers who report hooking sturgeon east of the Pump House and in the Napa River near Marker 7.
Not only is the sturgeon-fishing great, the halibut are being caught in increasing numbers near Angel Island, Red Rock and Paradise, and the striped-bass fishing isn't bad either. This could be one of those weekends for a fishing “hat trick” – catching sturgeon, stripers and halibut, all in the same day in the Bay. Call Keith Fraser at 415-456-0321 for the latest conditions and to book a trip.
Rockcod and lingcod season opened last weekend off the Sonoma Coast, and Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, reported full limits of rockcod for all of his clients, plus nice catches of lingcod to 12 pounds. Rick is taking out anglers on “Combo” trips for both salmon and rockcod and lingcod for $90 a day. The salmon fishing has been only fair recently, but should pick up as the water starts to warm a little. Call Rick at 875-3344 to book a trip.
Lake fishing in the area has been only fair, with Berryessa seeing the most action, generally in the shallower coves. All this could rapidly change for the better with the warmer weather.
Lakes in the mountains actually might be good fishing, but the challenge is getting to the water. Michael Coats drove up to Caples Lake (on Highway 88 near Kirkwood) with his friend, Martin Howard, last Friday and found the snow line at 6,000 feet, with lots of snow above him at the 8,000-foot level. No campgrounds were open and both Silver Lake and Caples Lake still had ice on them and Morman Trail was closed. They pulled off at Caples spillway and camped his pop-up on the side of Highway 88. It was noisy, but a sliver of Caples Lake was ice-free, so Michael and Howard started casting onto the ice with float-bubble rigs, from which he hung some worms. They'd drag the baited line into the open water, and hungry trout were waiting. Michael limited out in three hours and Howard caught four nice trout as well. The lake froze over the next morning, and their fishing was done.
Larry Murphy, Bob Smith and John Gurney, along with some friends from San Mateo and Oregon, spent a few days fly-fishing on the Deschutes River in Maupin, Ore., last week. The water was high and the hook-ups were few, but they did manage a few here and there, Larry reported.
Fly-fishers are still facing high-water challenges on most California streams. Runoff is high, wading is tough and the fishing is generally fair. Fall River and Hat Creek are two exceptions, where the fishing is reported to be great, but you will also find lots of other anglers there.