Thursday, July 2, 2020

     I haven't seen any salmon come in here this week (nor any salmon fishermen until today) but there have been a few halibut caught in the bay. I say the the bay because over the last few days there have been fish caught from one end to the other. The best numbers were still around Hog, of course. Again, fish get caught where people are fishing, so seeing many fish come from Hog Island isn't much of a surprise when 98% of Tomales Bay halibut fishermen are congregated there. Somebody should sell beer. It needs to be repeated, there are fish in other places, and with a small but growing number of pelicans appearing in the area it would appear that baitfish and halibut should be arriving in the bay soon if they aren't already here. Those fish enter across the bar then work their way through the channels into the bay. The fellow that caught a chunky 8 pound halibut from the shore in front of the Lawson's Landing store yesterday probably picked up a freshly entered one (it bit a white bucktail). I'm just saying, you don't need to school up in one spot. 
     The rockfishing was pretty good in some of the deeper water this week. In the shallower water the bright night sky provides enough light for the fish to eat all night and not want your offerings the next day. Fishing deeper generally works better near the full moon. Of course, except for when it doesn't.
      I did give the surf stripers a try a few nights back. I don't recall catching that much seaweed before. Now, I don't want to brag, but if I was a vegetarian I would have had food for weeks. Not good food, but a lot of it. I may try again when the memory fades a bit.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

    So there's these stories of salmon swarming out at the weather buoy. On Saturday these guys heard them but decided to give it a go at 15 and 3 (That's 38º 15' by 123º 03' for the uninitiated). There were fish there but spotty and scratchy, so after a couple of hours and a couple of fish they pulled gear and ran the 14 miles to the "spark plug." Imagine their disappointment when they could hardly get lines in the water before the fish bit. The fish weren't huge but they were enthusiastic. These guys were back early enough to do a bit of jigging by Hog and caught a halibut as well. I heard from another source that the fish near the weather buoy extend down the coast to at least Pigeon Point. It's not a solid carpet of fish but there's pockets of salmon out near the drop-off. Some of these fish have been eating krill but many of them have lighter, orange flesh and have mixed fish in their bellies, including some anchovies and shortbelly rockfish. Maybe that's where the baitfish have been hanging out. There's still fish to be caught in closer for sure, but if you don't mind a long run for salmon it sounds like they're out there. Consider it an albacore practice run. It's like a half marathon.
    The halibut also bit live bait back by Hog, probably because it was pretty difficult to catch any live bait, at least for the guys I spoke with. I did hear there were some larger schools of (non-biting) baitfish near Hog now, so there's probably a few fresh halibut in the bay as well. For those without a boat, there's still surfperch being caught and this week should be a good time to catch a striper on the incoming tide in the evening with a full moon coming up. If I can keep from falling asleep on the couch you may see me out there. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

     I received this test and photo from Tom Brodsky yesterday morning at 7:52 AM: "Early bite" My guess is that this cryptic message means that, even though the previous day he fished from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM with only a scratched bait, his morning yesterday was much more productive. 180 feet of water in front of Bird, as I recall he told me later. I have heard of some other good numbers of fish caught off of Bodega Head and down to Elephant (rumors of a bite at 4 and 3? Perhaps someone fishing for a scout?) but mostly all early. Today the only salmon fisherman I spoke with had one and released another off Bird before 10:00 AM. Then the bait faded away with the bite. It seems that the fish may have moved down to Elephant later in the day (judging by reported boat traffic) but I haven't seen a fish from there yet.
     I did talk to one halibut fisherman today. One halibut (kept) and one leopard shark (released). I believe the location was Hog Island related. Not quite the success story I was looking for (neither was the salmon story; I need body count if I'm gonna catch) so I'll probably leave them fish alone tomorrow. That, plus it looks like we need to change most of our campsites in the next four days in order to comply with the recently released Covid rules from the County. It's weird that campsites outside in the open air and sun need to be separated by six feet or more yet hotels get all of their rooms. I guess that after the all the protests with all the people close together outside and then there was the huge spike in illness I never heard about because of it, I guess that clued people in to how dangerous camping or other outdoor activities really are. Thank God my family and employees have survived this long. FYI, this ain't political, at least it isn't if actual science dictates the rules. Otherwise it's just someone picking winners and losers, and while I kinda expected to be a loser it still hurts. If someone can explain to me how people camping 20 feet away from each other is more dangerous, Covid-19-wise, than a hotel, I'm always interested to learn. Oh well, at least I still have a job, I guess. So far, better than some.
   Anyhoo (this bothers Cameron, so...) there are still some sandcrabs molting, so surf fishing for surfperch wouldn't be off of the table. The ospreys are killing them, so they're out there, just maybe not in range of your cast. If history is any indicator there should be a striper bite in the surf between Sunday and Thursday in the evening. It is my mission to outfish the Gage during this window. We shall see.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

    Here's a couple of pictures from yesterday:

   The salmon looks big but the halibut seems more impressive. It probably helps to be smaller and wear a pink hat. I'm currently looking for a nice pink hat.
    Today we had far fewer fishermen but the one brave soul who launched to fish stuck his nose out front (you have to look) and then ran back to Marshall and trolled for halibut (you don't have to stay). He ended up with a couple of keepers.
   Okay, I try not to do these, but damn.... You know, sometimes you see a boat with some custom addition that doesn't look that well done but the owner is really happy and proud of it, so you let it slide. Let them have their fun. Boating is supposed to be fun, right? But every once in a while you see one that is potentially harmful or fatal. The following pictures show a boat in the terminal phase of what one of our mechanics (I can't recall if it was Jeff or Nate) called "Small Boat Syndrome". Usually this applied to boaters that wanted (or needed) a larger vessel for all of their crap. This boat has been "extended" to facilitate carrying more people. The flotation in the seats (and the seats themselves) have been removed for more room for bodies. And I'm not sure if this is a 15 horse main engine with a 20 horse kicker, or maybe it's, not twins, but stepbrothers? You make the call:

Saturday, June 20, 2020


    A bit slower on the salmon today. The South wind was back again and so was the cussing at it. Everybody I spoke with had at least hooked a fish for a bit, but these krill fish seem pretty skilled at slipping the hook. The two fish in the picture failed to slip the hook and came ashore with Travis Barton and company. They would have had more except the nincompoop launching them was able to get the boat trailer stuck in the mud on the way in. Some people have to work at doing stupid stuff but I seem to be a natural. Everybody got to wait an extra half hour while I got a bigger tractor to (barely) pull out the boat and start over. Sorry... There were other salmon caught but I didn't hear of anyone from our launch really whomping them. It sounded like the dark water where the fish were caught yesterday kind of wandered off.
    There was one fisherman I spoke with today that caught a few halibut on the troll but the live baiters had a hard time trying to drift liveys at trolling speed in the wind.