Thursday, January 31, 2013

Antioch - Dow Wetlands

My son and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather this afternoon and go for a quick paddle to the Dow Wetlands Preserve. We launched at slack tide and glided across the smooth water towards the preserve. It was a balmy 61 degrees and we had the river all to ourselves. We arrived at the preserve and I snapped a quick picture of the Cormorants sitting on the pilings. We explored channels within the preserve and saw lots of ducks, a Great White Heron and an Egret. No mammals today but it felt so nice to get out on the water.

UPDATE: I spoke with the harbormaster and he told me there is no charge to launch kayaks. His words, "if you don't have a trailer then there is no charge to launch."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crabfest 2013

What an amazing weekend! Howling wind, Coast Guard rescues, crashes into rocks and my first attempt at crabbing from a kayak!

Headwaters and NorCal Kayak Anglers hosted Crabfest 2013 at Doran Beach in Bodega Bay this past weekend and with over 100 attendees and some awesome prizes it was an event to remember.

We arrived Friday afternoon at Porto Bodega and set up camp. The weather that afternoon and evening was  beautiful and the sunset spectacular. Porto Bodega is about 2 miles from Doran Beach and was a very nice campground with full hookups. Friday evening we settled into our home away from home and started working on our traps for the following day. This was our first attempt at crabbing from kayaks and we were excited to give it a try.

We had ordered SMI crab pot kits from Johns Sporting Goods online because the kit had everything we needed to get started. The kit came with the trap, 100 ft. of leaded rope, the harness, bait bag, float and crab measure. We started putting our traps together and strategizing for Saturday.
Family Friend Tim getting ready.

One possible set-up.

Saturday morning we loaded up and headed to Doran Beach where Dan from Headwaters was putting on a rescue clinic. When we arrived the wind was blowing at least 15 mph and whitecaps dotted the bay. We listened in on Dan's rescue tips and watched as a practice rescue was performed. Little did we know that there would be many rescues or tows over the next couple of days. After the clinic I decided to launch and get a feel for what the conditions were like out on the water. I didn't paddle very far because the wind had really picked up and I knew heading back to shore would be a workout. My friends and I decided to forgo setting any traps because of the conditions and just watched what others were doing. Later that afternoon a couple of people were blown way offshore and were having trouble getting back so the Coast Guard was called and they rescued one kayaker as another was towed in by fellow kayakers. Everyone was safe and it was a great reminder and lesson that the ocean needs to be respected. Always know your limits and if conditions are questionable, I like to err on the side of caution even if it means missing an opportunity I've been looking forward to.

Conditions weren't getting any better and the Coast Guard wanted everyone off the water so we headed back to camp. My friends and I decided to try setting some traps inside the harbor where we thought it would be safer. We paddled out around 4:30 and discovered rather quickly that the wind was just as bad so we set some pots quickly in only 5 ft. of water near low tide and hurried back to the launch. As we were heading back, the moon was just starting to rise over the hills.

Sunday we were up before sunrise to get back to Doran Beach to register for the event in time. We arrived just after 7:30 and quickly registered and got our gear set up. The wind was blowing again but not quite as bad as Saturday. I only had one trap with me as I had set the other one inside the harbor the night before. I launched through the small surf and dropped my trap maybe 100 yards from shore. I was concerned the wind would be getting worse as the day went on and I didn't want to go too far out.  After a couple of hours I went and picked my pot up and I had two good size rock crabs as keepers. I wanted to try again so I went a little further out and dropped it again.

The official crab tournament ended at 12:30 and the pot luck began at 12:15. Lots of crabbers donated their catch and I threw my rock crab in for the feast. Dan's Mom, Terri, did an awesome job cooking the crab for everyone and there were lot's of people helping throughout the day. It was really neat to see so many people serving others and sharing in the days festivities. When the food disappeared Headwaters started the raffle. There were a ton of great prizes that companies donated for the event. Top prize was an Eddyline Caribbean 12! Other prizes included the new GoPro Hero 3, Bending Branches angler paddle, Promar trap and too much more to list!

The wind picked up again in the early afternoon and there were a couple more kayaker's in need of help against the wind and another towed in by a power boat because of a broken rudder. The kind power boater dropped him close to shore but unfortunately also a little too close to the rocks where he ended up with more damage to his boat because of the wind. He received help from a couple of volunteers who towed him off the rocks and back to shore. With the wind howling again, we decided to leave our pots in the water overnight and hope for less wind the following morning.

We still had pots that needed to be picked up inside the harbor. I was zapped, so Tim went out and picked up our pots while Mary and I watched him to make sure he made it back safely. I had one Dungeness in the pot but it was too small so back to the sea it went. The day was great, even if it was a bit windy.

We slept in a little Monday and headed back to Doran to pick up our remaining pots. We arrived about 8:30 and there was a stiff breeze but no whitecaps. We picked up the pot that was the furthest from shore first and grabbed mine on the way in. I  had five Red crab in my pot but only one keeper. After picking up the rest of Tim's pots we were left with three Red crab and one Dungeness. Tim and Mary were kind enough to let me take them home and cook them up. Believe it or not, I had never tried crab until yesterday. My Grandparents used to get cases of King crab and cook them up and I guess as a kid I felt bad watching them throw live crabs into the boiling water. I'm over it now and had fun cooking them up and tasting crab for the first time. I have to say that I preferred the Red crab to the Dungeness even though there was a lot less meat on them.

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend with family and friends and I highly recommend trying to crab from a kayak! I look forward to doing it again soon. I also recommend fishing from kayaks and if you'd like to give it a try, I have several fishing kayaks available for rent. Check out!

I'll post some video of the event soon!

Sherman Island Waterfowl Management Area

On Thursday, January 24th, I had the opportunity to paddle around and explore the Sherman Island Waterfowl Management Area, also known as Sherman Lake. I had a couple from the peninsula who wanted to explore this area so after I set them up with their boat and a map of the area I thought I would do some exploring myself.

The previous few days had been extremely cold but this day warmed up to the low 50's with low clouds covering the area for most of the day. I set off from Sandy Beach and headed west towards the marsh. There were plenty of duck hunters in the area as I could hear several shotgun blasts every once in awhile. Once I reached the marsh area I paddled at a leisurely pace and took in the sights. There were hundreds of coots, as usual, and I spotted the infamous Sandhill Crane among the reeds. There were Great White Heron, Blue Heron, and Snowy Egrets. Despite the sound of gunfire, it was actually very peaceful. High tide was at 11:30 that morning with an easy current and the water was very smooth with just a gentle breeze.

After exploring the inside marsh for some time, I decided I would explore the outer edge along the Sacramento river to see if there were any possible landing spots to stretch my legs. I didn't find any beaches but I did discover a floating dock tucked in along the shore that looked like someone had set up to fish from. As I meandered down the river I was fortunate to spot half a dozen Sandhill Cranes resting in a tree along the shore so I stopped paddling and just watched them. While observing these beautiful creatures and taking in my surroundings, I thanked God for such a beautiful world and the opportunity to participate in this sport and see His creation from a different perspective. As I returned to the launch I was delighted to see a flock of White Pelicans flying above me with their black wingtips dotting the ashen sky.

Monday, January 28, 2013


The past week has been pretty busy for me. After battling the flu last weekend I was fortunate to be able to rent some boats for a couple of days to some new customers who were able to do some exploring of the Delta on their own. They explored Franks Tract and Sherman Island and I was able to do a little exploring at Sherman Island myself. This weekend I attended Crabfest 2013 at Doran Beach which was hosted by Headwaters and Norcal Kayak Anglers. It was a great weekend and I was able to catch my first crab from a kayak! I'll be posting a write up soon about Sherman Island and Crabfest.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

McNears Beach to McInnis Park

It was a beautiful day today as I finally was able to get out with the Sacramento Paddle Pushers! If you haven't joined this meetup, I highly suggest you do! I met a great group of paddlers who were warm and friendly and very welcoming.

We launched from  McNears Beach around 10:45 a.m. with the temperature in the upper 40's and high tide predicted at about 12:00. The sun was shining and the water was as smooth as glass with absolutely no wind.

There were ten of us who paddled San Pablo Bay, past China Camp, through Santa Venetia Marsh Preserve and up to McInnis park for lunch. McInnis park is nestled along Galinas creek and made a nice spot to stretch our legs and eat lunch. There is a dock at McInnis but it is pretty high and has some strange rails on the edges which make it a challenge to get in and out of your kayak. Most of us decided to disembark next to shore which was also a little tricky but doable.

After lunch we headed back with the tide in our favor. There was a bit of a headwind, not much, just enough to make my hands go numb due to wind chill. Overall, we paddled almost 11 miles and it was an awesome day! I look forward to many more paddles with the Paddle Pushers and I hope to post a trip myself soon!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bethel Harbor

Today was the perfect winter day to do a bit of paddling. It was 49 degrees but the sun was shining brightly when we launched about an hour before low tide from Bethel Harbor. There was absolutely no wind and a gentle current moved slowly to the northwest.

Bethel Harbor is the northernmost marina on Bethel Island that you can launch a kayak. The harbor offers a small store, restrooms, and dock specifically for launching kayaks. The place is very clean and well kept. They charge $5 to launch and it's a great place to put in if you want to explore Little Franks Tract. They even  have camping available for RV's but I'm not sure about tents. I will have to ask about tent camping the next time I get out there in case I want to do a delta expedition.

After we launched, we paddled with the current up Piper Slough towards Little Franks Tract. The day was perfect for a lazy paddle and we probably did more chit-chatting than actual paddling. We were treated to observing hundreds of mud ducks, a couple of hawks, a great white heron and a couple of great blue heron, dozens of cormorants and even a close encounter with a seal at the end of our paddle.

Before you paddle at this location, make sure you check the tide prediction as the current can be very swift. You can use the False River, San Joaquin River tide station. The best time to go explore Little Franks Tract is just before low tide so you can ride the ebb there and catch the flood back.

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I can't wait to return and do more exploring!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Day Paddle - Sandy Beach

What a great way to start the new year! An exciting day today. I, Delta Kayak Adventures , had scheduled a social paddle today at Sandy Beach on Sherman Island to try and introduce new people to the world of paddling. I was blessed to have the opportunity today to introduce someone new to the sport. Unfortunately she got a little more than her feet wet today but she has a great attitude and is looking forward to getting on the water again when the weather is a little warmer. Thanks so much to Jim Schneider and Jenni Thompson of the Lodi Paddle Club for your assistance today! Kayakers are a great group of people! All the paddlers I have met have been more than willing to lend a hand and share their wisdom and experience with fellow paddlers.

Numerous paddlers from the Lodi Paddle Club and other paddling clubs from the area showed up for a great day on the water. I arrived at about 9:30 a.m. and there were several vehicles right behind me loaded with boats. There was barely a stitch of wind when people began launching. It was a bit on the chilly side but the sun was shining brightly and soon warmed up a little. The wind started to pick up around 11:00 but it wasn't too strong. I was finally able to get on the water about this time and paddled to one of the nearby islands and enjoyed a snack with a friend. We returned to the launch around 1:30 and ate lunch with more friends. The wind had died down and the three of us returned to the near glass like water and paddled toward Mayberry slough.

Just after two of us launched we waited for our other friend to join us just outside the launch area when an aluminum boat occupied by a couple of duck hunters and their dog passed us by. As they neared the dock their dog moved in the boat and somehow fired the shotgun that was pointed towards the picnic area where our kids were playing. Needless to say, my heart stopped until I knew everyone was o.k.. It was a scary reminder that as paddlers we're not alone out there and need to be aware that it is duck season and there are hunters out in areas of the delta that we may like to paddle. We need to make lots of noise to let them know we're out there too!

It was nice to meet so many wonderful people today and hope to see you back on the water soon!!
First sunset of 2013!