|Hey Brian. I just recently bought a 20' maxum, and live in the delta. Disco bay is okay, but you're right, those are high launch fees.
Lauritzens (on bridgehead rd) charges $10.00, Sandy Beach (in Rio Vista) charges $5.00, and Brannon Island charges $10.00.
Also, there is a free ramp in Pittsburg, but I don't remember exactly where.
I put a Lowrance GPS and color FF in my boat, and it has come in handy a couple of times already, as the delta can be a pretty confusing area until you really learn it.
I also added a VHF radio, but mainly for the bay/ocean.
One good site is fishsniffer.com... there are a few people from this board that post there. Also, anglernet.net and fullspeedfishing.com.
As far as equipment... most pier tackle will work fine (10+' surf rods are a bit ungainly).
One big rule to remember is that you CANNOT even possess a gaff in a boat on the delta (I have caught myself on that one, after doing an ocean trip, followed by a river trip).