Monday, November 28, 2016

    Since we have had at least ten phone calls today asking about (or telling us that) the crabs being closed again, let me just say, no, they are not closed here for sport fishermen. The same rules are in effect, that is, crab is open but don't eat the guts (one of the easiest rules I've had to follow, I must say). Commercial crabbing is closed here because they sell the crab whole and they aren't allowed to sell a product with a portion of it exceeding the guidelines. So, go crabbing. Or don't. More for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

     Not much new to report. The weather has been mostly nice in the bay and mostly swell (big swell) in the ocean. We had a few days of decent water which let a couple boats get out for some excellent rockfish and lingcod fishing. The crabbing has been pretty good outside (not in the outer bay, but further out) and tapering off inside Tomales Bay. Still, a few guys are catching limits inside the bay with a combination of the right bait in the right place and getting up on the right side of the bed. There's surfperch to be had off of the beach and Gage says the jacksmelt action is good when the schools come through.

Friday, November 18, 2016

     So, the latest crab tests are in and the Bodega Dungeness crab passed. That's a good thing for eating crab but probably a bad one for catching them, as commercial season will likely get expanded to here as well. Fort Bragg had five of twelve crabs fail, so they'll probably only be opening up to Gualala or so. Numbers of crabs caught have remained good in the deeper spots and not so good in the outer bay. Inside Tomales Bay the Dungies have slowed a bit but are still coming in from both the pier and especially from boats. The deeper holes have been pretty consistent producers but usually only around the turn of the tide when the current slows down. Fast current in those holes means bye-bye gear when the buoys dive. The sand on the bottom can also shift over the top of the pot when the current is ripping. Please remember to weight your lines, as I drive on the bay and don't want to wreck your gear or my motor.
     Rockfishing has been good when you can get there here. Mostly you couldn't get out of Tomales because of the breaking bar but the sea dropped down for a couple days this week. Maybe Tuesday of next week it may be passable. If not, there's perch in the surf. There was a report of a "striped mackerel" about two feet long hooked and lost in the surf last weekend. They said it was not a striped bass. Water temps pushing 60 degrees, so bonito? Someone has to land one so we can find out. I sent my go-to guy but Gage could only catch perch. Which was okay.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

     These folks in the sweet 1964 Glasspar saw a small boat drifting towards the mouth of the bay (and certain doom, today) and decided that they had better help. They towed the other boat back to the pier and definitely saved the lives of those on board. For that, these are the heroes of the week. Thanks for making the water a safer place for all of us.
     Here's a pic and report from last weekend (sorry, I lost it in my inbox). Nick Mitten reports, "My dad, brother and I went out on Sunday. Dropped 3 pots and motor died after dropping the 3rd. We paddled back and picked up the pots. Decided to anchor for a couple hours and crab off the anchor. We had 7 pots off all ends of the 19ft boat. We picked up 20 crabs for three of us in 3 hours. Most were well over the crab gauge. 

 We would have stayed and limited at the rate we were going but we couldn't pass up the nice guys that offered to bring us back in with them. Awesome day overall, I'm glad we made the best of the floating pier. The bay was amazing Sunday. Here is my share" Way to save the day, Nick. It takes a special blend of luck and skill to break down over the right spot. I prefer to burn lots of fuel running to the wrong spots, but you do it your way and I'll do mine. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

     This gentleman and his buddies caught three limits of Dungeness before noon today. These all came from near Marker 5, but not in the scrum of pots there. He wasn't giving the exact location and I don't blame him. 
     I was able to get out of the bay on Thursday but should have stayed inside, it looks like. Five pots in 75' of water in the outer bay caught five Dungeness, and two pots in 140' of water off of Tomales Point caught six Dungeness. It was only a four hour soak, but I was expecting a bit more. At least there were rockfish to catch. Except, not where they were two weeks ago. Where I had been throwing back keeper lings I now couldn't get a bite. We finally went down to the reefs off of Abbott's Lagoon to catch half limits of rockfish. The sea was big but not as large as the day before when a boat out of Bodega dropped into the trough behind a huge swell and pancaked, breaking off all four seat posts. On Wednesday the swell peaked at 17 feet at the Bodega Buoy (19 at Point Reyes). That's too big.

Monday, November 7, 2016

     Richard Baratta sent in this report from Saturday's opener in Tomales Bay:"Hey Willy
Thanks for all the free advice this year and humor. This crabs for you! I could not find you so I ate it!
Best crab you never ate.
PS it's the bait.
     So I guess I need to concentrate on my bait. Hopefully I can master it.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

     These guys caught 25 Dungeness out of one of our rental boats today and weren't even the high boat. They've still got a lot of cleaning and boiling to do. High boat (that I spoke with) had 34 keeper Dungeness. The area north of marker 5, as usual, was the spot, even though, as usual, not everybody did as well. Some crabbers got skunked and some did well, with most guys getting a few, and most guys working the same area. I don't know what the Tomales Bay secret trick is. Fresh squid? Clams? The souls of unchristened children? Nobody will tell me.

    And then these guys. Gage and his buddy Nick caught these two nice Dungeness on the pier this morning. They were using chicken for bait. There were others caught on the pier but Gage will tell you that these were the largest ones.

Friday, November 4, 2016

    Here's two different looks at why the bay will be crowded tomorrow. The break was intermittent in the morning and was steady and large all afternoon. Tomorrow should be very similar. Nobody should try to cross the bar tomorrow. Somebody probably will try, but nobody should. The crabs have been eating well and there's no reason to fatten them up with your corpse. Crab the bay, wait in line in Bodega Bay, or try again another day. The commercial season looks to be on hold for a bit longer, so the ocean crabbing should wait for you. Patience....

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

     The results of the new tests are in, and while not perfect they are apparently good enough.

Recreational Dungeness Crab Season to Open Statewide Nov. 5

The recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to open statewide on Saturday, Nov. 5 – with a health warning in place for crabs caught north of Point Reyes (Marin County).
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a warning to recreational anglers not to consume the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters north of Point Reyes due to the sporadic detection of elevated levels of domoic acid in the viscera of Dungeness crabs caught off the northern California coast.
The health warning is effective for recreationally caught Dungeness crabs taken from state waters north of Latitude 38° 00′ N. (near Point Reyes). CDPH believes that Dungeness crab meat is safe to consume, however, as a precaution, consumers are advised not to eat the viscera (also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH further recommends recreational anglers follow best preparation practices to ensure that they avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be sporadically found in some crab’s viscera.
Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin related to a “bloom” of certain single-celled algae. Fish and shellfish are capable of accumulating elevated levels of domoic acid in their tissue, which can sicken people who eat them. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line. This year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will continue to work with CDPH and the fishing community to collect crab samples from the northern California coast until the domoic acid levels have dissipated.
Consult the CDPH biotoxin information line at (800) 553-4133 or CDPH’s Domoic Acid Health Information webpage for more information.
CDFW reminds crabbers of new regulations that became effective on Aug. 1, 2016. For a complete description of the regulations, please go to and click on “New Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery Regulations” in the Announcements box

     I'm so happy. If only the ocean conditions mirrored my joy. The forecast sounds potentially fatal for crossing the Tomales Bar over the weekend, but if the Shrimp Boat guys are ready for it I think that there may be plenty of buoys to slalom around inside the bay. Also, this:

The recreational fishery for all rock crab species is open statewide. North of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) advises that consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as "butter" or "guts") of crabs. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat.