Fall means Big Bass and Great Shots
As the resident of a houseboat that is moored to a small island on The San Joaquin River side of the Delta approximately 100 miles up stream of the Golden Golden Gate Bridge. I have the occasion to witness Natures 4 seasons in all their glory in a location that the media has called “The Last Frontier”- I have weathered the fury of a Northern Blow, sat shivering through the seemingly never ending days of valley fog and baked during the dog days of Summer, I will go on the record now and say that Fall is definitely my favorite time of the year with Spring taking a close second. Fall is the time of year when the hot and muggy 90 and 100 plus degree dog days of summer give way to the cool and comfortable 70 and low 80 degree days of Fall or whats commonly known in these parts as Indian Summer, The weather is perfect, The water conditions are perfect. Large schools of shad have moved in so the river is bustling with activity. The Terns and Osprey hover above ever searching for a quick meal consisting of Bluegill, Shad or even a small Bass. Egrets and Herons line the shoreline, strutting, slowly, deliberately like great prehistoric beasts in an almost ritualistic dance in search of their prey. The Otters, the river’s clowns move effortlessly through the weeds frolicking about while dining on the abundant Crawdad population. Big Bass patrol the weed edges in search of Crawdads, Shad or an errant Bluegill or small Bass that may venture too far from the cover of the shallows, eruptions on the waters surface as the Bass crash into the large schools of shad that infest the weed line are a common occurrence.
As a photographer/fisherman/hunter living in the middle of all these wonders of Nature it does not get any better, the wildlife is abundant, the sunrise and sunset’s are a sight to behold and because the sun is at a lower Fall/Winter position in the sky the lighting and the reflections appear at times to be of another world. Photo ops abound throughout the day. During the time of the day when the sun begins to fade to the west, the time of day I refer to as the “Golden Hour” and the sunsets it gives way to are at times breathtaking. Some of my best photo ops have come during those “Golden Hours” drifting silently down the river using only a electric trolling motor to make course corrections. It is as if the animals and the river itself are aware of my presence but are not threatened, life and its normal activities proceed with little or no regard to my presence.
Two pieces of equipment accompany me on all excursions… a fishing pole, usually several and a camera. (Even if its just my iPhone camera, a camera always goes.) To watch bass crash schools of shad and have no fishing pole at hand or to anticipate an Osprey ready to dive bomb on its unsuspecting prey and to realize you forgot a camera to capture the moment is frustrating at best. It reminds me of the time I made a trip to Lake Powell to pick up a boat, I had no idea the beauty that I was about to embark upon and in my haste to pick up my new boat neglected to bring a camera…..Big Mistake!!! A trip back to that part of the country with a camera is definitely on the bucket list.
Fall signals transformation on the river, the water is cooling the fish sense the climate change and begin to feed heavily in preparation for the impending Winter. The birds ever the opportunists take advantage of the abundant feeding opportunities If there was ever an opportunity to go out and fish it is now. The Largemouth Bass will readily attack topwater baits jigs, jerkbaits and crankbaits the opportunity to catch Striped bass in the 5 to 10 lb range are abundant and fish tacos are frequently on the menu. Fall is the time of year when my biggest decision is do I rip, flip or shoot.
So if your bored, have nothing to do, or your overly stressed…. Chill… grab a camera or a fishing pole or both-pack a lunch and take walk or boat ride on the Delta or at one of the many Wildlife Refuges in the State. Most Wildlife Refuges and Delta locations you can access for free or for a small fee. Many of the larger refuges have routes designated for Photography so don’t forget your telephoto. For accessibility and a list of Wildlife Refuges you can check out http://www.dfg.ca.gov/. You won’t be sorry and you might even get some much needed exercise and lose a couple of pounds in the process.