View Full Version : Fish wrap: Hunting the white whale, err, sturgeon

03-22-2010, 06:42 PM
Fish wrap: Hunting the white whale, err, sturgeon

Alastair Bland
Posted: 03/11/2010 05:16:25 PM PST

WHALES ARE FISH. So I read in chapter 32 of Moby ****. This book's author also touts whaling as a profession of dignity, cleanliness and honor. (They don't make kids read this stuff, do they?) Anyhow, with ships, peg legs and harpoons swarming my dreams, I thought it might have been fitting to find Marin's Ishmael with sturgeon tales to tell. Even an Ahab.

I settled for an Ismael, and that'll do. Ismael Delgado of Novato has caught eight sturgeon this year, and it's hopes of monsters like the seven-footer that belly-flopped four feet from his stern two weeks ago that keep him at it.

He fishes almost every Sunday and Monday, one day for his son and the next for his pal, though two Sundays ago the three took to the water at once. It was a birthday outing for Sebastian, who turned 11, and while there were no presents or balloons, sturgeon breached left, right and rear, and bass boiled at the surface, all of which beats a thousand cakes and clowns. The stripers were so active that Ismael swapped his shrimp for a surface plug for a few flings. The bass were blinded by muddy waters, though, and Ismael switched back to bait, settled into his seat, and resumed the peaceful pursuit of the white sturgeon.
Except that the bass wouldn't lay off. The three fishermen - including Jeff Canulli of Novato - caught and released five keeper-sized stripers and kept one, a six-pounder caught by Sebastian. The trio caught two sturgeon, too - a shaker and a keeper 47 inches long. The action took place between Buoy 5 and the Shell Bank in a three-hour window at the top of the tide. Delgado said the fishing was as good as it gets.

"If you go out and fish for a day or two right now, you can't not catch a sturgeon," he said.

That was then. More recently, the two Delgados fished on Sunday outside the Petaluma River's mouth. Here an oversize sturgeon and several four-footers left the water close enough to show the diamonds on their backs. Two nearby boats landed 47-, 49- and 59-inchers, plus a 20-pound striped bass. Ismael hooked and lost a fish that peeled the reel for five seconds, while Sebastian, yet to catch a sturgeon, landed another bass, about seven pounds.
"To him it was bigger than the sturgeon," said his dad, and for Sebastian the thrill of fishing comes easily enough. It's his dad who's after the white whale. Sturgeon, that is.

I talked with Jesse Ketcherside at the Port Sonoma bait shop on Wednesday. Ketcherside, a Novato resident helping out in the shop so Joel Sinkay could take a day to go fishing with his son Danny, had a line out himself. Eyeing his rod tip between bait sales, Ketcherside reported that anglers from boat and bank had landed several four-foot sturgeon in the days before.
Sinkay himself was presently anchored on the Napa River, soaking shrimp with Danny. They had nothing to speak of but a 14-inch bass, and Joel, practicing a sentimental tradition of anglers honoring the deceased, was using Debbe Vinje's rod and reel and hoping for a sturgeon so he could retire her rig after one last battle. Vinje, Sinkay's partner in life and business, died in December. Moments after our chat, Sinkay rang me back. They'd landed a 51-incher - caught by Danny. So the hunt for Debbe's final fish goes on.

03-23-2010, 12:12 PM
I would love to catch a sturgeon, I understand they are illegal around here. It must be cool to be in a place where there a lot of them.