Sunday, February 9, 2020

   Aside from some crab in the bay and a very few surfperch there's not much catching to report on. It sounds like the herring spawned in Richardson Bay last weekend but I haven't heard about a spawn here in Tomales Bay.
    On February 21 the California Fish and Game Commission will consider rules about using hand-operated water pumps for clams. Here's what those pumps look like:
   Their use is at least a two-person operation with one person operating the pump and another laying down using the "wand" to liquefy the sand over and around a clam and allow the clammer to reach into the sand and pull out the clam. It isn't quite as easy as it sounds but it is quicker than digging a hole. The water intake on the bottom of the pump requires it to be used in the water, so actually having the clam beds submerged by 4 inches to a foot of water is a necessity. Many of the days that don't have tides low enough to dig a clam have tides low enough to pump clams. That, to me, is the biggest problem. The clams get hit pretty hard by shovel-wielding clammers but the tides low enough to dig clams only happen on maybe 160 days per year. How many clams will be left if everyone can get clams 300 days per year? It seems to me that a gear restriction or a season would be a good thing for all of us. If you feel strongly about it, either way, send your comments to:

  • E-mail to fgc@fgc.ca.gov
  • Mail to California Fish and Game Commission, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
   Also on February 21 there is a petition to shorten the grunion season and place a limit of ten on them. I only know of a couple of guys that get grunion up here, but wrybread, please note that the proposed closed season here would only include the months in which you could actually get a grunion. The rest of the year is wide open.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

    So the Gage got invited to ride along with Rick Powers on a scientific research trip to Cordell Banks last Thursday. The mission was to collect some yellowtail and chilipepper rockfish with eggs. Mission successful, with many other "wrong" fish returned via descender device. Gage's bottom line report: "There's a lot of fish there." That's good news, because twenty years ago when they closed it to fishing there weren't any to be seen on the fish finder. You could still catch some fish but it wasn't the blackout-the-meter, can't-reach-the-bottom situation of the past or the present. You can already see the spillover of recovering deepwater rockfish appearing in the shallows. I've seen widows, bocaccio and yelloweye in 160 feet of water in the last five years and it used to be (in the 1980's) rare to see a yellowtail or olive rockfish near the shore, shallower than 250 feet of water. Perhaps some deeper water sites could be opened, even if on a limited basis, to relieve some of the pressure on the shallow rockfish. Cordell will surely never be re-opened to the rest of us but the Football, Rittenburg Bank and Fanny Shoals would sure be nice options to visit.
   Gage spent a bit of time in the New Sea Angler's wheelhouse and is very happy to report that there were schools of anchovies "all the way out and all the way back." This bodes well for salmon fishing this year but may predict sadness for the salmon smolts hitting the ocean this spring as it may be too much competition for krill. Time will tell.
   Here's a (sorry, previous week's) report from Mike Martin :"Just read your report about the crabbing in the outer bay. On Monday after pulling our last pots from 200’ for the year, when we got back to the dock, a couple guys in a Zodiac showed us 2 limits, and they threw a few back, after a 4 hour soak. They were in 50’ about a mile south of Doran beach(Estero?). Could have been luck and being in the right place at the right time but just passing it along.

Mike"

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    Not too much to report, as you may have guessed. Crabbing in the ocean has been tough. There's a few in the outer bay but they need to be worked for. Out deeper is even slower. Hopefully the commercial guys caught enough at the start to pay their bills because now it sounds like a good day barely pays for fuel and bait. From the shore the snares are still accounting for a few Dungeness. FYI, I'm seeing more "Crab Hawks", or folding castable nets, getting used and I'm pretty sure that they're not legal in California. I haven't heard of anyone getting ticketed for using one but I doubt that anyonr reading this wants to be the first.
    I heard that the hatcheries got all the salmon they needed and lots of jacks showed up but I haven't heard any numbers of wild salmon returns. There will probably be an ocean salmon season, maybe. If there is, it looks like it should be pretty good since some of the commercial crabbers have seen sea lions eating salmon out in 40 fathoms (240 feet). There's lots of anchovies out there, too.
   I heard about a herring spawn in Tomales bay last weekend and a fresh school of herring pushed into the bay yesterday. I would think that there'd be few stripers chasing them but I haven't heard of ant caught except for a couple in the surf. Gage finally went surf fishing and managed a couple of barred perch at low tide. "The only structure to fish is at low tide," said the man.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

    There's still been a few limits of Dungeness crab coming in from Tomales Bay. Known crab whisperers Eddie Kim and Thumbs spent Friday on the bay for a couple of those limits. Most boaters are catching a few Dungies but aren't having the same success as the whisperers. Shore snare fishermen are catching a few and occasionally doing better than some of the boaters. Winter storms have scoured our beach down to a flat, gentle slope making launching and retrieving of boats impossible at high tide without a saltwater bath for the launch vehicle. As someone that has had a wheel fall off of his pickup, I recommend not taking that bath.

   Mitch Hamilton found some crab yesterday :"Managed to scrape up 14 nice big crab out of the bay on Saturday, grandson #2 Lucas showing off one of the bigger ones." Those are some big bugs. Nice and clean, too.
    Here's another Saturday report :"Hey Willy,

Took my 84 year old dad out yesterday for a last shot at rockfish and the hopes of picking up
a few crab off 10 Mile.  I was not too surprised to see as many commercial pots on the sand
off Abbotts but was surprised to see pots on all my rockfish spots.  A 4 hour soak produced
4 crabs out of 5 pots.  The rockfish were pretty tight lipped.  We managed to keep about 6
assorted rockfish and let a few shorties go.  Slowest fishing I've had out there in a while. 
Even the New Sea Angler came in late which is rare for Rick.
So that's it for me.  It'll be all about ducks and maybe sturgeon until salmon season.

Brad StompeSome really big swells earlier in the week probably helped to slow the crabbing and 
fishing. 

     Here's a bit of a sneak peek at what's coming for the 2020 sport Dungeness season: 
"In Aug 2019, FGC approved an MRC recommendation for DFW to explore possible “common
sense” recreational management measures and consider including the recreational fishery in
its federal habitat conservation plan/incidental take permit application (see Exhibit 1). In Nov
2019, DFW presented MRC with six potential management measures for the recreational
fishery (Exhibit 2):
1. Trap limits - currently the recreational fishery does not have a trap limit
2. Stamp program - currently there is no participation reporting structure
3. Enhanced gear marking - currently only a GO ID number is required
4. Service intervals - currently there is no service interval requirement for traps
5. Gear configuration - currently there are no requirements that specify scope
6. Director of DFW authority for in-season action - current authority is split between DFW
and the legislature (commercial trapping) and FGC (recreational trapping)

What does it mean to us? Likely there will be a tag sold like an abalone report card, except the 3 to 10 
tags that come with it will need to be attached to the pots or buoys you intend to fish. Possibly a report
card to self report when you dropped and pulled your gear. You may have to punch a hole in your tag 
on the buoy when you pull gear. There will be a limit to the amount of line you can have on your pot 
relative to your depth that you are fishing. It'll be great.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

    These fellows had the the bay to themselves yesterday. They started crabbing over by Marker 5 in the channel and did pretty well there until the wind chased them off. They finished their limits in the "clam channel" just east of the pier. They caught more there than at Marker 5. Most of the crabbers are only getting a few Dungeness inside the bay, but these guys aren't most crabbers.