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Boating Safety

Delta winds can be annoying and in some cases dangerous.  Winds can kick up very suddenly and catch you off guard.  Don't get trapped!  Always have a plan to get back to the boat ramp safely.  When fishing in a small boat, I usually head into the wind on the way out so that I can ride with the waves on the way back to the ramp.  When winds kick up, head into safer water along protected levees and into sloughs.  Spring and summer is the worst time for wind in Northern California, while winter and fall are more calm.

life jacket

Fog can be a dangerous element in the winter time.  Unless you have radar, be very cautious while navigating in the fog.  Always use your running lights in the fog or during low light conditions.

Currents can become very swift in the delta and river systems.  Remember that current is always stronger in deep water and along the outside of bends.  Shallow water and the insides of bends have slower currents.

When navigating unfamiliar waters in the bay or delta, stick to the shipping channels when possible.  Always use a map to scout out the area prior to hitting the water.  There are sand bars, rocks and submerged pilings and farm equipment that can get you in trouble.  You might want to cruise an area during the low tide to see items that will be under water at high tide.

Use common sense.  Get out of the water when you think unsafe conditions are present or ominous.

Wear a personal floatation device (PFD) whenever possible.  I have a Stearns coat that has a built-in life jacket.  I wear it at all times during the winter months.  During the summer I use a life jacket that has tank top style shoulder straps.  It's small and light enough so that it doesn't really bother me while fishing.  The river looks calm and peaceful, but anybody who has ever watched the news knows that people drown in our waterways all the time.  Even when it's hot outside, the water may be freezing cold.  Remember - most of our waterways are fed by snow melt.  Be safe!