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.

Friday, December 13, 2019

  Got a couple of reports to share. Here's one from Brad Stompe :"Hey Willy,
Just reading your post on Tuesday's crabbing.  I was wondering if the crab were still there after the storm and discovered they were.  On Tuesday a 41/2 hr soak produced easy limits for 3 in 90’ off Abbots.  Fished 7 pots.  Rounds pot had 2-3 crab, square pots 10-20.  Bait was salmon heads and Duck carcasses.  Rockfish were plentiful plus 4 lings to 10 lbs.

Brad Stompe
Mary Francis - Grady 228"
   And one from Mike Martin :"The counts are down a little but still averaging 10 per pot in 180-200 straight west of Jingle Bells. We were averaging 15-18  a week ago. By the way we use commercial pots. Not sure you can keep light gear on the bottom that deep.

“Please don’t rob my pots”

Mike Martin"
  Commercial gear should start splashing tomorrow morning so the crabbing isn't going to get any better. There's a report of an entangled whale swimming around already, even without the commercial pots in the water, so you can be assured that changes to crabbing regulations will be coming sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

    Here's a report (sent Tuesday) from Harvest Time :"Yesterday we dropped six traps in about 80 feet near Abbot’s. After about 3-1/2 hrs. we had our rockfish so went to pull the traps. Every one of them was empty. After we went in we talked to another guy who had same results. Do you think this could have been caused by Saturday’s big swells?" That is possible, as big swell will make the crab move deeper. In yesterday's comments Sucka-Fish reported "dropped 5 pots yesterday (monday) 3 hour soak. 2 at 100-115 feet. 3 at 150-160 feet. 10 keepers. 6 in one of the deeper pots." Depth seems to be a factor. I talked to a returning crabber yesterday that caught limits in 75-90 feet of water but he spread his pots out over a few miles on Ten Mile and he said that the south pots were best. So, here's your four theories of why no or few crab:
  1) Big swell. The big swell stirs up the bottom and the crab don't like it. The do like that it uncovers clams, though, so a smooth spell will bring them back in.
  2) Squid spawn. Squid eggs taste bad to many creatures and a large mass of eggs will send crabs looking for someplace better to feast.
  3) Sometimes they don't bite. Just like every other critter in the sea, there are times when they get lockjaw. Predicting those times accurately is a mystery to me. If you figure it out, call me.
  4) Sometimes they aren't there. Except for times when the crab are crazy plentiful, they just aren't spread evenly across the bottom of the sea. I've tried soaking my gear all day in places where they aren't and it doesn't work. I like the technique used by crabber I spoke with, the "shotgun" method. I dropped my seven pots over about three miles of Ten Mile beach from 60 to 90 feet of water. The best for numbers is soaking all your gear where the crabs are. If you aren't positive on the crabs' location, next best is to try several spots and then only a couple of places need to be good.
    On the fishing front, not much happening except for some good rockfishing when you can get out to them. Inside the bay the herring are starting to move in so there should be a few stripers chasing them near Marshall. I haven't seen any surf fishermen except for the ospreys. The birds are catching, at least.