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Returning to San Pablo Reservoir

Bill Adelman author photo, myoutdoorbuddy.com

By Bill Adelman
07/05/15 -- July 4th was a key day in the life of my cousins and brothers when we were kids. Big party at my aunt’s home, ice cold watermelon, bobbing for apples and homemade hand-cranked vanilla ice cream with peach chunks. Tossing a softball or football around, waiting for the briquettes to get hot enough and drinking all the soda we wanted was a way of life back then. And of course, all the kids were first in line for the grub. No-one told us we were using too much Miracle Whip, mustard or catsup, or to stay away from that third helping of chips. We truly didn’t know how well we had it. What we did know was that lake fishing for bass, bluegill and crappie with Grampa Red was over. Fish just didn’t bite during the heat of summer, especially around the Fourth of July party, thus, no fishing. As we grew into what a few might call adulthood, going our separate ways, fishing only in the Spring, having our own families, finally getting a 12 foot rowboat and still not fishing during the summer, a question arose. What’s wrong with fishing just for the sake of fishing?

San Pablo Reservoir. Photos courtesy Bill Adelman
My new favorite lake, San Pablo Reservoir. Photos courtesy of the author

My youngun’s were introduced to the finny sport, but only in the Spring, as a good father only took the kids when they had the best opportunity to catch a fish or two. Moving on, my kids were gone and I decided to try being a fishing guide. Being a guide precludes all fishing for fun. It ain’t ever going to happen. Every outing was spent focusing on how to have a good day for a client, especially when pre fishing for an upcoming season. After 20 or so years, the guiding business ran its course and finally there was time for just some fun fishing. Ron, one of my long time clients became a friend and when I retired, we began flyfishing together.

A spotted bass from San Pablo Reservoir, photo by Bill Adelman
A nice spot we took last week at San Pablo Reservoir

San Pablo Reservoir is right in my backyard and is primarily a planted trout and catfish opportunity. Prior to opening the lake to public use, no swimming however, as it’s my personal drinking water source, largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie were planted just once.

 Ron Marciel of Fremont, with his first hookup of the day., photo by Bill Adelman
My fishing buddy, Ron Marciel of Fremont, with his first hookup of the day.

Once in a while we’d head up there to fish for bass, occasionally catching a few in the 12-15 inch range. About 5 years ago, on a bass trip, we caught a few spotted bass. What the hey? Spots? Upon checking with EBM, we were told of the planting of spots. Most of the fish we caught were still largemouth, however over the past few years more and more small spots were caught. All this means is that on a good day, we might catch up to 10 bass, not what one might call a wide open bite. Now it’s 2015, June 26th to be exact, and the wind has kept us off the lake for two months. Forget the no fishing July heat, high 80’s to low 90’s, it’s the wind. On Monday, June 29th, nary a bit of wind. Flat calm at first light was the order of that day.

Call Ron right now. Wanna go to the Dam tomorrow, if there’s no wind? Who cares about the heat, it’s an opportunity to just go fishing. We decided that Tuesday was good, if the wind stayed down. It did. We met at the lake and made our first cast at 6.23 a.m. Surface temp was 73 degrees. My third cast with a 4 inch white paddle tail minnow was stopped about half way back to the boat and upon further review, it was by a 3 ¼ pound spotted bass. Where did this guy come from? Two casts later another one hit, it the 2+ lb. range. What is going on?

Ron's second fish, a spotted bass, was well over four pounds. Photo by Bill Adelman
Ron's second fish, a spotted bass, was well over four pounds.

We pulled away from our area and hooked Ron up with the same bait. Three casts later we had simultaneous grabs in about 2 feet of water. A double header is unheard of here. It continued this way for 65 minutes, all within 50 yards of shoreline. When the bite faltered, we moved to similar shorelines and I switched to a crawdad crankbait while Ron stayed with the minnow. The bite slowed to 3-4 fish per hour, but it was consistent, and still big fish. Our closing count at 11.30 a.m. was 22 landed spots, at least half in the 3+ pound range and a couple breaking 4. Our best 5 hit the 18 pound mark. Surface temp was now 78. Air temp was 92. Ron is a tad more subdued than I, as my appreciation of a once in a lifetime bite was most likely heard clear back in town. The ride back to the launch ramp was in the ever popular white caps and wind, which kicked in at about 10 a.m. We were so pumped that it mattered not a wit. Wednesday morning, first light, windy as heck. This day however, will never lose its place in our mental catalog of events. Tight Lines !!!

Bill Adelman is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of California. His work has appeared in the Fish Sniffer newspaper and MarketPlace magazine. He was a full time freshwater fishing guide for 20 years. Now retired he still likes to serve as a flyfishing instructor, rod builder, outdoor photographer, seminar speaker and hunting mentor.


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