Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spring is in the air...

Which, for Sacramento, means about four weeks of gorgeous weather.

So a morning trip out to the Sacramento bypass was definitely in order.

The Sacramento Bypass, stunted sister to the Yolo bypass, sits just North of West Sacramento. Bordered by the Sacramento and Tule canal, the bypass offers any manner of shotgunning and fishing. Of course, it's pretty desolate, and it gets abused a bit, but like many of these places, early morning, just before sunrise, it comes alive.

Arriving this Sunday morning before 7 am, nobody was there. I stepped out, grabbed my tackle box and spinning rod and camera, and started off down the road. Immediately, I wanted to stop and take pictures, but the light wasn't good enough, and I'm definitely no professional. Soon, however, I couldn't resist:
The North side of the bypass is edged by a canal and a nigh-impenetrable riparian zone. Birds aplenty here, all singing praises as I walked along the levee. Overhead passed pairs of mallards; perched atop a eucalyptus, a redtail hawk; at the edge of the tules in the neighboring farmland gurgled the redwing and brewers blackbirds, and of course, the occasional cowbird; too many starlings (one is too many in my book).

I was then offered a flight of white-faced ibises heading out from the flooded fields to some other flooded fields, I'm sure.

I'm not as quick with a camera as I'd like (those of you who have hunted with me understand), and a fishing pole and tackle box also make for a difficult, fumbling move. But I was able to get a fading away shot over the sunrise, so I was happy enough.

So on I walked, poking along, not seriously interested in fishing as much as looking around, but knowing I'd regret not bringing the pole when I got to the slough at the back.

The bypass is only about one mile in length, and the north entrance drives a person about half that length, so after a half-mile or so, then, I was at the back end of the property. However, Tule canal heads north and south from here, and I followed the levee road northward along the edge of its milk-chocolate waters.

I cast occasionally, but the banks are pretty high and pretty steep, and after taking a fall onto some river rocks, I poked around much more slowly. Unfortunately, where there weren't blackberries or wild roses at the river's edge, I found small bunches of poison oak at the lowest elevation I've ever seen them. However, most of it was mowed down, and so access isn't impossible, and if I had brought my long-handled net and the proper equipment, I could have sat and enjoyed an entire day there fishing for cats, carp, and the occasional black bass. As it was, I moseyed and cast here and there.

At one point, sliding like crocodiles from the far bank, two gigantic river otters came straight at me through the slough, snorting their warning. I snapped some pictures, but none really came out good enough. I moved along.

I didn't catch anything this day, though I got within a foot of a carp sucking on the weeds at the river's edge. I don't think I'd want carp from this particular slough, or possibly at this time of the year with such turbid waters, but who knows? Perhaps I've just fallen victim to a newer myth about the horrible trash fish that is the carp...

I did get to see this fellow, and about a half-dozen of his ilk, poking around. Aix sponsa, the wood duck, a reclusive, beautiful bird with some really amazing, haunting sounds.

I also found the remains of one of the lawn mowers used here, and decided to go all Georgia O'keefe for a bit. Here is what I think was my best shot...


Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Ooh! Cool picture of a woodie! Did you keep the skull?

And, more important, have you found a spot for shad yet?

Josh said...

I didn't keep the skull... I should have brought it to Holly's mom, huh? I forgot...

As for the shad, I hear they have started up the American, as far as Wall Ave. From my canoe, I've got a couple of potential spots to check out, and may do so this evening.

Josh said...

Oops. I meant "Watt Ave."