Sunday, July 13, 2008

American River Striper Blasted My Popper And Sent My Blue Balls Downriver

It's often that a man in pursuit will look everywhere but under his nose to find that which he yearns for...

One can look for love in all the wrong places...

Reach out far and wide to grasp what's holding just inside...

Walk a mile for blood, sweat and tears when the camel he walked towards was all along sitting legs outstretched, tongue out and hump up, hiding in the shade of a palm tree just around the corner of a near oasis...

Such was the case this Friday morning when I took a departure from my typical long-haul travels to a far reach of the Rio Americana and instead drove the 7/10th's. of a mile from my driveway on Stanley Avenue to the pearly, yellow gates of Ancil Hoffman Park.

I drove in with the idea that I would save time and gas by fishing close to home. In the same token, I'd be fishing water I hadn't paid much attention to this season so this would also be an exploratory quest...

Anyone who fishes the American, Sacramento or the Feather Rivers.. with any regularity, knows that we got slighted by mother nature and gypped by the water barons this spring. The AR flowed at a paltry 1000 CFS from April through June and most of the striped bass stayed low on the rivers or bypassed them altogether opting to instead spawn in the Delta from Rio Vista and down.

I was fortunate to get a 38# and a few high 20#'ers in April and May but the month of June was a lot of sloshin' and tossin' for relatively few fish and nothing over 10 pounds.

Today something semi-miraculous happened...

When I approached the first likely striped bass holding water, I noticed a strange, blue, spherical object rapidly advancing along the river's crests and currents.

It came to a halt in front of me and cast a reflection of itself in the water.

The seeker in me pondered the significance of this flotsam.

A large blue ball? Oh of course! The symbology was easily recognizable. BLUE BALLS! That's what a fishing junkie like me gets when he pounds the river day in and day out for so few hookups...

I'd actually caught a schoolie striper the day before in another hole but even that was my first fish landed in 4 trips.

I snapped a photo of the symbol, contemplated giving it to Tyrus to go with his vast, plasticine love doll collection, laughed a bit and moved upriver. Don't worry Unkie TY-TY, this report is laced with lushness for your lair of latent, latex lovers... Yours too Berman!!

As I trudged along, I noticed there was a 2 foot tall bathtub ring stretching the length of the clay on the opposite bank.

The river had obviously dropped considerably...

I've learned from past experience that a fast-dropping river is the best catalyst for a short-term striper feeding frenzy. Less volume of water = fleeing pike minnows, salmon smolts, and soft-shell crawdads. Concentrated food and surface area makes the holds much easier to pinpoint and 10 times more productive. The diminished flows also makes for better (longer/slower) presentation of poppers and spooks.

I found a nice spot where mud, algae, and small cobbles gave way to logs, larger aquatic plants and chunky boulders.

I stealthily waded past the ducks and muck and stood there, balls deep, where I could walk my ambulance popper along a nice little food trough.

I zipped the plug upstream and reeled fast to keep the line off the water. When the popper was out in front, I chugged and walked it slowly with intermittent pauses.

As Marcus would say... "Topwater doesn't work until it does"

and as Aram would say, "When you're walkin' the dog and your plug gets busted on... KEEP ON WALKIN'!"

The quick flash of soft white underbelly stung my senses briefly and before I could second guess... Fish? Lure splash? Blue Oyster Cult?

My plug got HAMMERED and WHOOFED ON!

Hundreds/Thousands of these episodes later... for me, it is no less intense and invigorating as the first.

I equate the sensation with 'busting a nutt'. I know... I AM getting old and I need to get out more…

Not the monster I was hoping for but I finally found a respectable schoolie to play with. No more 'blue balls' for ME I thought as I slid the girl on her side for a couple of quick happy snaps.

Unfortunately, this girl was suicidal. She took the front hook in the mouth but somehow managed to impale her right eye with the tail hook. Even though they were all barbless, the Owner 2/0 must have punched her in a bad way.

I did everything textbook C&R. I removed the hooks quickly, revived her BEFORE taking any photos, swam her in cold, clean water for 20 minutes afterwards but I could never get her from belly-up to belly-down I strung her up with a piece of cordage (courtesy of some careless bastard who left it on the river bank).

Her stats were 34-26-34... er uh... I mean, 30" and 10#.

When the river recedes, it is amazing what copious amounts of crap a guy can find in such a short stretch.

I counted 3 Bic lighters, 5 lighters of the eastern, 7-11 variety, countless flip flops, a can of pepper spray,

and even an Oakland Raider stir stick.

If I didn't know any better I'd say we lost one of our two-fisted-drinkin' Red Cup Navy squids...

To go along with the big blue ball, blue swim fin and several blue Bics, ... I found 3/4 of a small, blue bucket.

It kind of gave me the blues... but it also gave me an idea. Mostly out of curiosity... I started flipping rocks which had only hours before been inundated with riparian waters. I collected half a dozen soft-shell crawdads in 2 minutes from beneath just 3 rocks.

I contemplated using one for bait but dismissed the notion since I don't usually carry bait-fishing gear in my pack.

I played with the little crustaceans and made them smile for the camera instead. "What's with the animal masochism today?" I thought... This one crayfish in particular pinched one of his antennae and just left the cheliped in lock-down mode...

"Doesn't that hurt?" I guess it's the equivalent of dogs and cats chasing and biting their own tails...

I continued plugging away and was soon greeted by a flotilla and then an armada of rafts.

One raft had a particularly-nice-to-look-at paddler on board. I was talking on the phone to Benny who had called to tell me that the river had mysteriously dropped 2200 cubic feet per second. "No shit? LOL..."

The bikini girl looks over and yells, "Don't drop your phone in the water!"

I answered: "I do it all the time... and usually when a raft floats by and a smokin' hot female like yourself starts giving me advice..."

Damn that was smooth. Why do I only think of shit like that when they're floating downriver?

I could tell she got it when she said "ooooooooooooooooooo", and kind of smiled and puffed herself up and out a bit.

When the distraction vanished from sight, I fished a bit longer but shortly thereafter, decided to call it good and get back to my truck before fire haze filled the skies and rigor mortis crept in to the joints of my tethered fish.

I said my thanks and goodbyes to the river and to Ancil Hoffman Park.

My final adieu was towards the Teed-Off'ers and Toms...

I rolled up in my driveway with windows cranked down and tunes cranked up a bit. Tom Petty: Jamming Me , was the tune tumbling out of my stereo speakers. It dawned on me that today was not just ANY day... It was FISH HEAD FRIDAY!!

Then the out-and-out FREAKY occurred... I heard the mellow and hypnotic voice of DJ extraordinaire; MR. BOB KELLER (formerly of KZAP and now the lunchtime musical server of the Eagle = KSEG 96.9 FM) and he prompted listeners to get ready for "le word de jour" This is a periodically-selected and broadcast word which faithful listeners can extract from the air waves and enter in to their computers to earn 'Eagle Points' redeemable for tangible goodies...

and the word for the day was...


I am kind of a Kozmic sort who believes in synchronicities which most pass off as coincidence… and when I heard Bobs' selection of word/s of the day, I knew I was ‘in-tune’ so I called him up and gave him a fishing report. I'm pretty sure Bob's a FISH HEAD like we Fullspeeders...

Sometimes it's a small world... all within the distance of a short walk and some radio waves.


Hope you enjoyed El Porn de Pescado