What a difference a day makes!
Arrived with Brother Terry around noon on Thursday. Found that Elain and John had arrived the day before, and had selected a perfect waterfront campsite. That evening, they met up with Bill Seaman and had a fantastic evening on the water near the old boat launch. Lots of good sized fish.
Whilst Terry & I went about setting up camp, other members dribbled in off of the water with varying degrees of success. Scott Kitayama caught fish on both his first and last cast. He reported that Bob Garbarino had landed a very nice fish. Gil Santos showed up and quickly launched his pram. David Marks came into camp to visit & swap stories. Rumor had it that Yog was out on the water catching fish. Mike Diciano was camped nearby with his motorhome, and launched his inflatable shortly after we arrived. The weather was perfect, with gentle to no wind and comfortably warm temperatures. We watched as Mike rowed into the fray, and we wondered why the stern of his little floatie was under water. Turns out float tubes inflated in the heat of the day tend to loose air pressure when immersed in cold water…
I would point out that setting up camp to host a crowd is thirsty business, so Terry and I paused our efforts frequently to hydrate. During one of those pauses, I noted that my pop-up camper had been invaded by giant hornets. While they were not particularly aggressive, Terry is allergic to bee stings, so I spent the next hour chasing a couple dozen of the buggers out of the camper. Time to re-hydrate again.
With camp established (complete with full wind screen) we enjoyed a light meal. I intended to head out in my float tube afterwards. It was then that I discovered I didn’t have my license with me. I recalled it was on my entryway table, placed there so I wouldn’t forget it. Oh well, Los Banos was just a hop, skip, and jump away so I left for Walmart while Terry took his boat to be inspected.
We arrived back in camp just as everyone was coming off the water. It seemed that most everyone had caught fish, with the consensus being that this year’s graduating class of fish were considerably larger than the previous year’s. Armed with that knowledge, Terry & I weren’t too dismayed to not have fished that day; there is always tomorrow, and we had great expectations. Snacks, cocktails, a fire, and great conversations ensued.
The following morning dawned about ten degrees cooler than the previous day. Terry & I were on the water by 6:30. We fished the islands where Gil had measured some success the evening before. We marked a few sporadic fish on the finder in around 20 ft. of water, but they seemed to have developed lockjaw. We moved on to where the group was concentrated on the South west corner of the Fore bay. Slim pickens there too. Many had caught a fish or two, but certainly not at the rate of the previous two days.
Having been totally skunked, we decided to head to camp and enjoy a nice lunch. Which led to a Bloody Mary. Or two. Which led to a nap. I awoke greatly refreshed around 3:00. Time to head out for the afternoon bite, but we found that the mighty wind had risen and chased everyone off of the water. We thought it best to cut our losses and head on in. There were white caps and good swells so it took almost an hour to get to the dock area. We were thoroughly soaked, but the warm wind quickly dried us off. We noticed that there was about a 300 yard stretch of water out to 50 yards off shore that was in a ‘wind shadow’ from the hills behind the launch ramps. It was still breezy, so one of us had to helm the boat while the other fished. Terry piloted as I landed two schoolies of around18”. Terry’s turn. I handed him my rod and took over the helm. I like to believe it was my superior boat piloting that led to Terry landing a 25” chromer.
Getting the skunk off the boat took till the last 30 minutes of fishing time. Whew, that was close. Arrived back at camp to find JT and our newest member, Rich, had joined our group. Lance snuck in and set up his tent and joined in. Rich shared a fine bottle of Scotch with us, which instantly endeared him to the gang. We sat up till late sharing scotch and stories.
The wind grew in intensity.
Everyone slept fitfully Friday night, with the wind buffeting tents, campers, and trailers. Saturday morning found the red light blinking at the cottonwood creek entrance, meaning watercraft was forbidden from launching. I estimated a steady 30mph wind with occasional stronger gusts. Hoping against hope that the wind wouldn’t last, Terry & I hunkered down and made a nice breakfast. The sunrise was spectacular. The more experienced among us checked out the weather forecast to find that strong winds were expected through Sunday. Most folks began packing up to go. Around noon, we began to slowly break camp. The rest of the crew had left by one-o-clock. Around 3:00, I gave one last cruise by the North side of the Fore bay to see if the ‘wind shadow’ still held. There was still a small calm area, but I decided better than to launch my float tube when there wasn’t another vessel on the water anywhere.
Sadly, we had to cut the O’Neill Fore bay trip short. We missed out on several members who had planned on coming out on Sunday, but you just can’t ignore the weather. The moral of the story: The best time to fish is right now! (If you can).
Until next year,
Posted on October 26th, 2022