This is the fifth and final story in a five-part series of a road trip taking us into Northern California from San Diego County. We visited San Francisco, Sausalito, Fairfield, Benicia, Suisan City, Suisan Bay, Napa, and the Delta. We went to Pier 39 in San Francisco, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge twice, saw the hundreds of houseboats in Sausalito, toured the Jelly Belly factory, fished on the delta, rode on two ferry boats, crossed over four large bridges, and many small draw bridges, saw autumn colors, saw the last of our naval ghost fleet, and viewed the gorgeous vineyards in Napa… all in five and a half days.
The California Delta
A while back, I was given an article from someone who thought it might be interesting to post on my Staycations California page. It was a story about how California landed three of the best family fishing spots in the U.S. from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. That seemed like quite an accomplishment considering all of the lakes, streams, rivers, and ocean fronts throughout the U.S. One of the areas they mentioned was part of the California Delta which is located in the central part of the state. I had never heard of the California Delta so it piqued my interest. Most people I spoke to had never heard about it either except for some of my northern California friends.
This is exactly the type of thing that I wanted to feature on Staycations California. Our goal is to experience places outside of the normal, away from the obvious, and locations most people don’t know about or even think about visiting.
Staycationer JoJo is the angler out of the group and a newbie at fishing so it didn’t take much to convince her to go. It might be a harder sell for some of my other friends though. I handle the photography so I always want to go to interesting places to satisfy my hobby as well as stimulate my mind for writing about it later. So the planning and research began, California Delta here we come.
The California Delta is 1,000 miles of recreational waterways where six rivers cascade from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range into the central valley and eventually make their way to San Francisco Bay. The Delta features multiple waterways or rivers that bend and rest up against historical rural towns or Gold Rush villages where history is deep. In the Delta, the largest town is Walnut Grove with a population of about 1,500 so this is an extremely rural and sparsely populated area. There are 57 islands large and small, ferry boats, drawbridges, sloughs, and over 30 small marinas. Abandoned buildings and boarded up neighborhoods give you a glimpse of the past while over 100 launch ramps along the waterways keep it all alive for boating and fishing.
Going across the Sacramento River on a ferry boat
Our actual Delta portion of our trip officially started in Pittsburg, California…yes Pittsburg. I also saw signs for Staten Island, and the Chicago Port. I had to remind myself that I was still in California.
Pittsburg is a city of about 65,000 and sits in the outer portion of the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay.
Our first stop was the McAvoy Yacht Harbor to ask about places to fish in the area. This rustic marina sat next to an old abandoned building and had the ambiance I was hoping to see. I don’t always need shinny new boats sitting in pristine harbors, sometimes I want to see warn out and old, something that tells a story.
There was a dock that was already occupied by a family of anglers, a launch ramp, and a tackle store. Staycationer JoJo checked out the tackle shop to ask about places to fish and then came back with, “He said you can go over there or over there,” as she pointed in each direction. Not much to go on. I guess that is the way of the delta, fish where you can and where you want.
About a couple miles away was another marina but this time it had a more modern look with nicer and newer looking boats.
There was a small jetty and we walked over and asked the guys that were fishing if they knew where we could throw out our lines. They pointed to a small empty pier that sat about a hundred feet away. We questioned them again because we were surprised that nobody was on it fishing. Did the locals know something we didn’t?
We wandered over to the mini pier and set up chairs and our gear. What a perfect spot! The bay was beautiful against this sunny day and on the other side were vibrant green hills, a few farm houses, and dozens, if not hundreds of wind turbines. To our left was the marina and to the right some kind of refinery that when I asked the locals what it was, nobody seemed to know.
We threw out our line and within minutes a fish was caught, a Striper. Not a bad size either. He easily came off the line and immediately thrown back. Another fish was caught and within minutes after that, one more, then another, and another. It was non-stop for almost three hours! If we weren’t catching fish, we were getting strikes and nibbles. It was almost too much…almost. The two fishermen on the jetty gave their approval by calling over to us and hooting with their thumbs up.
Non stop fishing with small and large fish. Here a medium sized
I couldn’t understand why they weren’t running over to the pier after seeing how many we were catching. I mean some of them were nice sized fish, at least to us.
A half an hour later I found out why.
These boys weren’t messing around with our little minnows, no; they were going for the mack daddies!
I looked over to see this huge fish hoisted up for all to see by our fisherman buddies from the jetty. It was at least a four-foot-long sturgeon! I hooted back at them and returned the favor of the thumbs up sign. Wow! That showed me what is swimming around in the Delta along with many other species of fish, including trout and bass. No wonder it got top three.
We went back to fishing for our now mini daddies but I just wanted to chill out, so I sat back in my comfy chair and enjoyed the view. This looked so different from the coast where we live. First off, in Southern California there wouldn’t be that much open land. As a lone sailboat glided by, I couldn’t help but being impressed by the scene before me.
With only a couple hours left of sun, we headed east to explore deep into the Delta farther. I actually wanted more time but that fishing dock took up most of the day. Not complaining at all though.