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A Day in the Delta

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Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2016 12:00 am

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is calling. With more than 1,000 square miles of waterways stretching between Sacramento, Stockton and Pittsburg, water enthusiasts from all over clamor to visit the Delta in the summer.

From fishing to horseback riding, there’s plenty to enjoy in the diverse Delta. Explore neighboring towns, stop off for a glass of wine or make a splash kite boarding.

Go fishing

Fishing season is well underway in the California Delta. With waters full of bass, panfish, catfish, sturgeons, river salmon and more, there are many ways to give your hook, line and sinker a workout.

Bank fishing is one of the most popular options. Two public piers in Antioch offer prime real estate for the sport, and local bait shops share knowledge with customers on where to make the best catch.

If you’d rather take to the sea, rent a boat from a local Delta shop. Novice and intermediate fisherwomen and men may find Bethel Island tackle shops offer the best advice for fishing patterns on the Delta, as well as boat rentals.

Charters are also available to fishing fans willing to pay a fee. According to the California Department of Fish and Game, this option provides good opportunity for beginners to benefit from the experience of the operators. Generally, such excursions result in a high number of catches for anglers.

Pro-fisherman Bobby Barrack offers his own charters, dubbed “Back to Class,” where he shares his knowledge with anglers during a full or half day on the water. Trips can be booked at www.bobbybarrack.com.

The coveted striped bass that frequent the Delta draw crowds to the region. March to mid-June marks the best season to catch these fish during spawning. After that, the legal-sized striped bass have left the Delta waterways, and beforehand many fish aren’t biting.

Visit Locke

Locke is just a short trip from Walnut Grove. Originally founded in 1915, Locke boasts rich Chinese American culture; the small town was founded by a committee of Chinese American merchants. Chinese architects planned the town’s industrious building and it stands today barely changed since 1920.

The town historically centered around farm work, as that is what was available to its inhabitants. At its peak, Locke, formerly known as Lockeport, was home to 600 residents. Known as the only town in the United States built for the Chinese by the Chinese, it earned historical status in 1970.

Visitors to Locke can see what life was like in a 1915 boarding house, poker hall, the Chinese school and more. Be sure to take the time to explore the town’s quirky shops, or grab a bite at Al’s Place.

Hit the water

With more than 1,000 square miles of waterways, the Delta offers plenty of room to get on the water. Water sports are a popular pastime of Delta dwellers. From JetSkis to kayaks, there’s room for aficionados of all water sports to coexist.

Powerboats may cause waves for canoe and kayak enthusiasts, but a little research will uncover a slew of possible locations ideal for these sports — Sevenmile Slough, Old River, Middle River, Cosumnes River, Mokelumne River and Lost Slough. Mostly it involves finding an area with little to no powerboat access, or a section of water that doesn’t offer prime powerboat conditions. If you’re able to steer clear of these larger vehicles, the Delta will provide calm waters ideal for these sports.

Paddle boarding is taking the world by storm with snapshots of celebrities enjoying the sport in exotic locales. It is also celebrated for the benefits it provides to your body such as core-body strength and a rigorous arm workout. The Delta is a local destination to enjoy paddle boarding.

Delta Windsurf and Watersports Co., located in Rio Vista, offers windsurfing, kite boarding and stand-up paddle boarding. Due to thermal winds in summer months, there is just enough movement to provide playful jump sailing, kite surfing and down-wind paddle boarding. Local shops offer lessons, equipment and excursions for just about every water sport the Delta can handle.

For those who want a more scientific look at the Delta’s waters, the Marine Science Institute is happy to fill that niche. While many of MSI’s programs and events are private, they offer public trips out into the Delta waters for boat tours or even a ride on a research vessel. For more information and to see upcoming public events, visit www.sfbay msi.org.

Pick fruit

After catching fresh fish for dinner, gatherers can pick their own fruit to accompany the meal. U-Pick is a premium farm located in Rio Vista boasting apricots, cherries, peaches, pears and plums all ripe for the picking.

The Delta region is dotted with fruit and vegetable stands where growers sell farm fresh produce to passersby. U-Pick takes the freshness one step further by allowing visitors to hand pick their own fruit right from the tree. The listed fruit should be available June through August but it is recommended to check in before planning your excursion.

Take a hike

Water transportation isn’t the only way to get around the Delta. Hiking trails offer another way to tour the area by land. Just as the Delta is connected by an intricate system of waterways, neighboring towns are linked by trails.

The Big Break Regional Trail runs along the southern edge of Big Break, part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It also connects to the Marsh Creek Regional Trail and provides access to Oakley and Brentwood. From there you can travel to the Delta de Anza Regional Trail, which provides access to Oakley, Brentwood, Antioch, Pittsburg and Bay Point. Trails like Big Break also allow biking and equestrian rides.

Big Break Regional Shoreline, which used to be an upland farm, is completely submerged. Home to many species, mostly birds and fish, the park is also a hotspot for fishing, swimming, boating and naturalist programs. Interested parties can educate themselves on Delta history and current issues, birding, wetland ecology and general nature exploration.

Another option is Delta Meadows State Park, which includes the Historic Locke Trail between Locke and Walnut Grove.

Sleep over

There’s no need to make your Delta escape a day trip. Hotels are available at every point of the triangular shaped waterways that flow through Sacramento, Stockton and Pittsburg. The Ryde Hotel is one such option.

The Ryde Hotel is rich in history. Built in 1927, the opulent establishment offered bootleg whiskey and jazz music. It was also rumored to be a bordello — and paranormal research groups believe it may be haunted.

Today, after a major renovation that upgraded many of the amenities without compromising historic charm, the Ryde Hotel hosts weddings and other events.

In addition to swimming and a full-service bar, the hotel’s golf course is revered. Located on the banks of the Sacramento River, the nine-hole course offers sweeping views of the Delta waterways.

The course is known for laid-back play on a course free of many obstacles. Those who stay enjoy reduced rates on the course.

Go camping

Hotels and houseboats aren’t the only accommodations along the Delta. Camping isn’t allowed everywhere as most of the Delta is private property. However, many designated camping spots do exist. So whether you’re looking to pitch a tent or just park your RV, there’s a spot for you along the Delta.

Bring your boat for added fun. Most of the designated camping areas offer water access with guest docking and launch ramps. River’s Edge Marina & Resort, located off Sevenmile Slough is just one option for RVing along the Delta. Boasting amenities such as a laundry room, warm showers and water hookups, it’s far from roughing it.

Tent camping is a little harder to come by, but there are options. Dos Reis Regional Park in San Joaquin County is located in the East Delta. Select dates offer tent camping on a site that boasts barbecue pits, a playground, a boat launch and full hook-ups for RVs.

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