ZACK! & 707Fisherman Great Sturgeon Derby Adventure
by Forum Member Zack
Got the News from Rich Tipton that a Catch & Release Stugeon Derby was being held Saturday at the Martinez Marina from 6am to 4pm and even though it was short notice I just had to support it and do everything I could to attend. The theme of this event is an excellent tool for getting the word out to many to practice Catch & Release. I was also double dog dared publicly by Mr. Tipton who taunted me into partisipating to the extent that he bet me a pepsi that his boat would out fish mine! lol A coveted official Pepsi award from Mr. Tipton was what I was hoping for. I began to day dream about the moment when Mr. Tipton would be conceding defeat and pass the torch ( I mean Pepsi) onto me. I could see the flashes of cameras capturing thee occasion. I began to wonder which wall would be selected as the final resting place of the 24 x 24 framed glossy photo of me accepting this prestigious Award from Mr. Tipton? The possibilities were endless???Just like that I had to pinch myself and snap out of my day dream and return back to reality and begin to brainstorm the derby. I began to think of all of the variables.....What are the tides??? Where will most of the boat traffic be??? Where to launch and avoid all of the chaos??? How will my approach be different from all of the others and give me a better chance at success??? I then decided to put in a call to 707Fisherman who I met on this board and we have been talking about getting together since. After communicating with 707 I was glad to hear that not only was he IN to fish the derby with me but he sounded more excited about it than I! We met at 5 am at an isolated boat lunch and had the place to ourselves. It was F'reeeeeeeeeeezing and the fog was as thick as pea soup. Got the boat in the water and fired her up and turned on my gps mapping and off we went navigating threw the maze called the delta. 707 while standing and gazing over the bow had me in stitches making comments like I feel like I am on the bow of the titanic, etc, with us in complete darkness and blindly moving our way through the fog. After what felt like an hour we began scanning some of my fishing way points to see if any fish were eating at some of the below water fast food hang outs. We looked and looked making Z patterns at many of their usual haunts only to find either no fish, small, or very few. I then make a decision to drop in a shallow stretch that fish do not usually hold but is more of a transitional lane for travelers in an attempt to set up a check point for fish on the move to run into our bait. We hang here for 90 minutes or so and are treating to the booms, and bangs of the delta water fowl enthusiast as they play the primitive game of shooting ducks. I could never really understand thee allure of duck hunting. Outside of watching a canine work for his prize (which is cool) every duck hunt must feel the same minus the score of ducks shot I guess. I mean it's not like your going to return to port one day and have the admiration of all your duck hunting colleague's when you show them up with the rare 60 pounder holly grail of a mallard duck roped across your hood! lol Anyway, to each there own and now back to fishing. Now sitting at full sun and without a bite we decide to pull the hook and move on. After another half an hour of looking we come to a deeper area I like to fish that is a bit more conducive to weak tides and we find only a few fish but these appear to be quality. We drop down in 46 feet of flat calm bath water and wait. An hour passes and I begin to have that deflating feeling of wondering if there are any feeding fish here and I am now asking the fish gods to just give us something, any kind of bite to respond to and make us feel like we are really fishing and not just sitting there with our lines in an empty bucket of water. Give us a sign is all I'm asking!!!Then it happens.....My 2nd rod that is closest to 707 begins to twitch. Just a tiny bit and then a little more and I yelled to 707 TAKE IT! He snaps back with a violent hook set and its FISH ON! He quickly jumps up with the rod and the fish is now running. He tries to hand me the rod but I refuse. I guess in that instant I wanted the fish to completely finish the run to insure the barb of the single 7/0 owner hook was deeply implanted in his gums before I accepted the rod. The run ended and 707 offers me the rod again but again I refuse. I figured he has done this a time or two and did not want to mess with it and let him have his day! On the second run this fish comes undone!!!!We both let out in unisonce (sp) a very loud F^*#_+^*^@K! LOL Oh well, nothing more to do but bait up, try again, and of course give 707 the biggest ration of S^!T of his life! LOL We did not find over the next two hours and I kept telling him over and over I am not sure how I am going to report your incompetence on the forums but I AM sure the thread will have a headline something to the effect of FLASH 707fishermen EXPOSED! LOL He took my verbal bashing well and I kept reminding him every hour on the hour you only have 5 hours, now 4, etc, etc, to redeem yourself before my exposé goes into print about what kind of fraud fishermen you are. lol Apparently we missed our one opportunity at this local and decide to move on. Now with time of thee essence I kick the motor into full throttle and raced to another known sturgy Mickie D's. This spot is a bit tricky to fish and many do not have the patients to fish it or simply choose not to. It is a deep piece of water where flows crash with contour creating a GIANT eddy that has your boat swinging all day (irregardless of tide type) left and right with crap floating everywhere and more often than not you will have sticks and reeds fouled on your line and 707 (the comedians that he is) comments With all of this crap on our line what do you call this bobber fishing for sturgeon? LOL Shortly there after my rod starts to pump and I swing & miss! He is now making sport of me as this happens several times and says I should change my handle from ZACK! to 101swingsAndaMiss! lol I then decided to pick my pole up and let my arm be my own balancer and after a few minutes I got a very light tap and on the second hit I put my back into it and it was FISH MOTHA FlIPPIN ON! This fish was an excellent fighter almost too excellent and I began to worry that this fish may be out of range. We put a call in to the derby officials and let them know we had fish on and then enjoy not having another angler in sight. Just peace, quiet, solitude and a maniac of a fish deep below our boat. 707 quickly hops on his signature video camera to capture the event as I quietly focus on landing this fish. I have to admit not since I was a small child have I been so filled with nervous excitement while landing a fish but this one was different and I am sure the derby vibe was deeply rooted in my head along with the memory of 707's lost fish. Fish is now tiring and I am gently pumping his resting body up to the surface when we see him. A very large head comes up and quickly back down he went. We are both like Oh Noooooooooooo, it looks to be oversized!!!He dives for the deep and 707 fetches the snare and makes ready. I bring him up very slowly and at boat side after closer inspection our excitement returns as he is not as big as originally thought and appears to be a keeper size fish that is very obese with an enormously large head. 707 and I work well together and we slide the rod and fish through the snare and WHAMO, WE GOT HIM!!!We get the snare off of him and taped him out at 56 inches! I then carefully tied the fish just below the waters surface. Around that time we see a boat hauling ass toward us and I begin waving it down. A couple of real nice derby volunteers measure our fish and we un tie it and like lightning it dove like a snake back to the deep. We then received our entry ticket and we are in! The officials leave us and I begin sorting out our rods when I notice one has a lot of loose line that I gather up and begin to feel weight? I rear back on the weight for hook set and its FISH ON again! Apparently this fish hooked himself while we were dealing with the officials. After a hard run however he unfortunately came off!!! We look at the time and realize we have a long trip back so we pull the anchor and haul ass back to port, load the boat on the trailer, and head for the Martinez Marina where we view a very large crowd with most leaving.
I find one of the derby personnel and get the news that out of the 215 participants in the derby only 11 anglers boated fish! I thought to myself our chances are very good at placing in the money due to they are drawing 7 money places and we surely could not be one of the unlucky 4 to return home with nothing. A gathering was now forming at the harbor masters office.
Later a small child emerged and the numbers began to be picked out of the hat by this beautiful lil doll of roughly 5 years old.
I stood silently squeezing our ticket in my hand waiting to hear our number called. Would we get 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or place 4th thru 7th for gas and bait money. The numbers were called out and we were incredibly deflated to hear that we were not one of the lucky 7 but instead (as usual) had somehow beat the odds and became one of the unlucky 4 to not receive JACK! Aaaaaaaaaaah......Suddenly the previously describe angelic looking child started to look more like an evil entity with no other purpose than to rob us of our fishing destiny! LOL Further insult to injury was added when I saw Mr. Tipton's rig pull out of the lot with my coveted 2008 Pepsi Award! I was devastated........What made matters even worst is the guy that won the whole thing with a 1st place drawing finish had never caught a sturgeon before this day and this one was his 1st! UGH!!!! If you made it this far and are still conscience and are thinking this ZACK is a sore looser you would be 110% correct. LOL If you are further wondering if we will fish the derby next year the answer is If We Are Breathing You Bet Your Fanny We Will And Next Year And We Are Going To WIN! LOL