My First Fishing Trip on Lake Berreyssa

Fishing with Sid (and Albert and Peter)

 By Peter Kilkus

Although I’ve fished in many places during my life, I am not really an angler. Which is why in my fifteen years at Lake Berryessa I’ve never really gone fishing. My friend, Sid Silberberg, who is a professional fishing guide, has been offering to take me out and teach me how to drop something strange in the water and hope that something dumb tries to eat it so I can catch it and eat the dumb something that apparently can’t breath air.

Sid has been writing fishing articles for the Lake Berryessa News for many years. I’ve learned a lot from those articles but have never seen the “senkos”, “brass & glass”, and “River2Sea crawdad” lures he talks about. I think know what a “hot dog” is though.

A couple of weeks ago, Sid called while I was relaxing with a glass of wine on my deck and once again asked me to go fishing. This time I said yes (damn wine!). A few years ago I almost went out on the lake with my friend Steve Whan who had just bought a new bass boat. Steve wanted us to leave from Spanish Flat at 6 AM. Unfortunately for him his boat broke the night before so I didn’t have to get up at 5 AM. In this case, Sid took pity on me and I only had to get to his house at 8 AM to get the boat ready and launch at Lupine Shores. 

My house looks down on the Narrows and over the years I’ve gotten used to hearing what sounds like a fleet of bombers flying over the lake. But when I looked out my window at 6 AM, the sound turned out to be 20 to 30 bass boats roaring out of the Narrows into the main body of the lake for a fishing tournament – sometimes in the wind and rain! So I’ve always know that “Obsession” is an angler’s middle name (not just a cologne). But until I met Albert Brown I didn’t realize how that word manifested in human form.

I got to Sid’s house on Steele Canyon Road right on time. Albert was already there helping Sid prepare the boat. We launched the boat at Lupine Shores on a perfectly gorgeous Saturday morning. But before we even got into it Albert was already fishing off the dock. We saw a guy almost catch a big bass right next to the launch ramp. Albert asked him what lure he was using and the response was a senko. That’s when I learned from Albert that it was unusual for bass to hit a senko. This proved to be an omen for the end of our day. Sid then showed me how several different lures worked in the shallow water at the ramp.

We finally took off for the Narrows where Sid gave me lessons in the basics – knot tying, lure types, how not to hook the back of your head when casting. We trolled slowly along the shore looking at the depth finder and Sid telling me to say “bottom, bottom” every time my rod bounced. I thought I was getting nibbles but I was only bouncing on the rocks along the shore. But the next time I was about to say “bottom” the rod stayed bent! I grabbed it and reeled in what I thought was a big fish. When Albert got the net under it, we saw that I had caught two large bass on one lure. The bigger hungry bass had been hooked in the mouth, but a smaller hungry one had gotten hooked in the side. My first ever catch at Lake Berryessa was a double bass event!

We kept fishing the area and caught a couple more bass and trout – but always from the right side of the boat – the non-Albert side. To disprove a growing concern that one side of the boat was better than the other, Albert and Sid switched rods. Sid immediately caught another fish on the right side of the boat – with Albert’s rod. We had now caught about six fish all from the right side of the boat. The discussion became even more sublime as the philosophy of fishing swirled around me. Was it Sid’s secret garlic oil on the lure? Had Albert forgotten to wear his lucky shoes? Did Sid have a secret fish-attracting symbol painted on the bottom right side of his boat?

Finally Albert decided to replace the leader on his rod with line that was invisible under water. He immediately caught a fish, and then the next few, on his side (left) of the boat. What did I learn as a newbie from that right brain – left brain experience? Basically that you can have a great time fishing with friends, discussing really strange stuff, without drinking beer. And it got even better.

We trolled around for awhile and discussed Albert’s theory of fish time. He claimed that there was a breakfast bite, a lunch bite, and a dinner bite. We were into the lunch bite by then – 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Believe it or not, we caught most of our fish during the lunch bite. But then Albert caught a big one just after 12:30. Sid told him he had to release it because it fell outside the “Albert-time” lunch bite window. Albert declined.

We then went to the vineyards looking into the grass and avoiding tree stumps in 5-6 feet of water and fishing in 3 feet of water with senko lures. I got tangled in an underwater bush. After untangling my lure we trolled slowly while I watched my rod tip. It moved a bit as I bumped along the bottom. Sid looked over and told me I had a fish! I guess you have to know from experience what the various rod twitches mean. Sure enough I had another bass.

About that same time on Albert’s side of the boat (left, remember) his rod bent way over. We thought he might have gotten hooked on a stump. As he tried to reel in his line he claimed that it moved. But the rod tip was so steadily bent as he reeled in, I thought he was probably dragging a log. His line was quite a ways out so it took at least fifteen minutes to finally drag it in. I had the net out when I finally saw it – a huge catfish! Albert was trying to get it to the net without breaking the line and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I finally got the net under the catfish. It took the two of us to haul it onto the boat.

We tried to weigh it and there was some disagreement about the accuracy of the scale. We finally all agreed that it was 16 pounds. It was huge! I had never seen a fish that big except during my various scuba dives in the ocean. What brings this story full circle is that Albert caught the catfish on a senko the same as the guy at the Lupine Shores ramp that morning!

Sid took us over to the Spanish Flat area and we caught a couple of more fish. It was now around 3:30 PM and time to get back. The day had been warm and sunny and I was a bit worn out by my first Lake Berryessa fishing experience. We took the boat up to Sid’s for some photos. What a day! Sid and Albert both said that it was unusual to catch so many fish in one day. I guess I was the reason we did so well. I’m considering hiring myself out as a “good luck charm” for the next big tournament. The proof is that Sid and Albert went back out that very same evening without me – can you spell obsession? – but didn’t catch anything!

What follows is Sid’s version of that day’s events. It’s hard to compress eight hours on the lake in only a few hundred words. It’s hard to describe the beauty of the lake, the camaraderie, the “intellectual” level of the conversation, the relaxing wait while you troll, the feel of the strike, the bend of rod as you start to pull in your catch, the thrill of finally seeing the big bass or trout or catfish before you net it.  And yes, Albert is obsessed with fishing. And yes, Albert really is as happy as he looks in the pictures when he lands one. It really was a special day for me on Lake Berryessa. My great thanks to Sid and Albert.


Fishing with Sid by Sid

It was another perfect weekend at the lake.  Saturday morning I headed out with Albert and Peter for what I hoped would be a productive day of fishing. The first stop we made was in one of my favorite spots near the narrows but we had no bites at all. I tried another spot farther into the Narrows and it paid off big time. Peter's first catch was a double hookup on the same lure. It surprised us all. Two nice bass. We fished the area for a little while and Peter landed another bass. We had discussed going to the vineyards and decided to head that way now.

We trolled along the shoreline in about 15 feet of water and picked up a few trout and bass along the way no size to speak of. We reached the vineyards and my favorite spot and started out in around 6 feet of water throwing plastic worms and drifting into shallower water between 2.5 and 3 feet. When I hit my marker I went from 2.5 feet to 30 feet in a straight line very slowly with my automatic pilot on. All of us used "Procure" scent on our bait and it seemed to be doing a good job. 

I told Peter to reel in his line and he asked me why and I said you have a fish and sure enough he had a nice bass. I did the same drift again and this time Albert thought he was stuck but realized he had a big fish. I was sure he had a 14 pound or bigger bass. Peter thought he was stuck in a log, but Albert said a log doesn't wiggle. After at least fifteen minutes of fighting this fish on eight-pound test line he proved me and Peter both wrong. He landed a 16 pound catfish on a senko worm with "Procure" crawdad scent.  He was thrilled with a smile from ear to ear.  Good job Albert!!!  til next week.......................good fishing!!!!   If you have any questions or would like to share any fishing stories please email me at  or call me at 650-583-3333.



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