Salmon were our intended target for the day and early reports indicated big ones were being caught off the Northern California coast. We were primed, lined and ready for hook-up on the Blue Runner … and then came the call we all were dreading … “Major storm coming from the north, very high winds, too rough to leave the Bay, we have to redirect the attack.”
With our current lineup of veterans stretching from Vietnam to the War on Terror, we were well seasoned to adjust to a shifting battlefield. Well, how bad could it be? We still had a day of fishing in the Bay and although we would not be chasing salmon, halibut and striper are a lot of fun. So, like the flexible veterans we are, we saluted the flag, cast off the lines and pointed the bow towards the striper and Area of Operation awaiting us!
Like the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, we saddled our horses and began our journey towards the battle. We were looking for a fight and under the murky water we knew the evasive fish were waiting to attack our bait and become the next “grill fillet.”
Well, turns out the striper we were after had already begun their retreat back over the border and were heading up river where the Battle of the Delta and the Fight at Oroville were beginning. The striper, after battling in San Francisco Bay all summer against troops from the California Dawn, the Salty Lady and the Happy Hooker, were now mostly up river … and we were left changing our bait.
But, and there is ALWAYS a “but,” we received a wonderful tour of the Bay, something tourists pay a lot of money to see. Instead of hoisting fish, we hoisted beers and told lots of stories. Instead of “FISH ON” or “COLOR”, it was “Hey, there’s Alcatraz” and “Isn’t that the Bay Bridge … again?” or “I have never seen Treasure Island from this side”, and “Wow, Angel Island still looks the same even after three passes.” We got pretty good at “wind em up, let’s try another spot” and “drop them in, this spot looks good.” It was a hardy, seasoned group, but after six hours of slack lines, the momentum had shifted.
SUDDENLY AND WITHOUT WARNING THE STRIPER ATTACKED!
As the airwaves cracked with the sound of the battle, our Captain barked the orders with a new sense of urgency.
“GET THOSE LINES IN, GET TO THE BACK OF THE BOAT, CLEAR THE BOW, FULL STEAM AHEAD, THE STRIPER BRIGADE IS ATTACKING AND WE ARE MOVING FORWARD TO ENGAGE! WE GOTTA GET TO THE OTHER END OF THE BAY!!!!!”
The armada of boats converging on the battle was impressive and almost blocked out the sun … well, it was late in the day. We quickly got into the drift lineup, dropped our lines in, and FINALLY those sweet words of redemption … “FISH ON”! Hallelujah, the Lord loves a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or coast guardsman!
For the next hour we battled the striper, scoring a handful of fish while one of our brave and victorious Vietnam veterans saved the day with two nice halibut. As we cranked in the lines and headed for the docks I mentioned to the captain, better to have saved the day than missed the battle. Victory can be fleeting but we scored a last-minute victory with a Hail Mary on the BLUE RUNNER!
A great thanks to the captain and crew who worked their professional butts off to get us on the fish! See you next trip.