Sunday, March 27, 2016

     The Easter Bunny brought a strange egg to some crabbers today. This late 1970's to early 1980's 9.9 horsepower Johnson outboard was laying on top of their crab pot. It still has the fuel line attached, it is still in forward gear and it's missing one transom clamp, the twist grip, and the propeller. There's probably a pretty good story that goes with this motor laying on the bottom of the bay. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

     Ken V. had his limit of Dungeness by 1:00 PM today. He was working the Marker 5 hole and using squid, chicken and mackerel for bait. I talked to another boat with two guys in it that had near limits by noon from the same area. Some of the other boats working the area weren't doing as well. The successful guys seemed to be using quality bait and freshening it often. Rotten or funky smelling bait is only attracting the reds, which you can't keep.

     The pier isn't nearly as productive as some of the other spots but there's still some Dungeness to be had there. These two tasted really good. The outer bay is still a good bet for crab when you can get there from here. A couple surfers picked up 8 in one trap they paddled out and dropped off of Dillon Beach. The wind is up and the swell is supposed to follow by Monday, so wait until after the sea lays back down and leave the surf to the surfers. They're dressed for it. Remember, we're here to eat the crabs, not vice versa.
      The surf perch are still biting. The best place I heard of was about a quarter of a mile north of Sand Point at a smaller point. The best bite has been at first and last light. The surfers have also reported seeing stripers in the surf closer to the parking lot, so that could be interesting as well.

Monday, March 21, 2016

     The Dungeness are still coming in but you've either got to be lucky or you've really got to work hard at it to get them. Tomales Bay has been okay for a few people but most people are spending their time feeding the reds and short Dungeness. Hopefully the feeding pays off later, but for now it's just kind of disappointing after the delay. It sounds like there's quite a few further out in the deeper water. The outer bay has some spots of crab if you find the right place. I spoke with two boats that tried the outer bay yesterday. One guy had 60 crabs and the other guy had 6, so location and technique must count. The seas are forecast to be up this week so the outside might be unreachable from here.
      Also, this:

Recreational Ocean Salmon Season to Open South of Horse Mountain on April 2

Salmon fishing 
CDFW photo
California's recreational salmon season will open in ocean waters onSaturday, April 2, 2016, from Horse Mountain (40° 05' 00" N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border.
The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person may possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.
Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (38° 57' 30" N. latitude), the minimum size limit is 20 inches total length. For areas south of Point Arena, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. The recreational salmon season north of Horse Mountain remains closed and the season will be determined in April.
For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27' 00" N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks may be used, and no more than one rod may be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling.
Additional ocean salmon fishing regulations for the 2016 fishing season will be decided by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) during its April 9-14 meeting in Vancouver, Washington, and by the Fish and Game Commission at its April 18 teleconference. Final sport regulations will be published in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) 2016-2017 Supplemental Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, which will be printed and posted online in May.
"Salmon abundance estimates are lower this year and there is concern that the forecasts may be overly optimistic. Ocean and river salmon anglers can expect less fishing opportunity compared to last year, especially later in the season, to protect vulnerable stocks," said CDFW Environmental Scientist Jennifer Simon.
Three alternatives are currently being considered for California's 2016 commercial and recreational ocean salmon regulations. Each option includes different season dates, size limits, bag limits and quotas. The public is encouraged to comment on any of the proposed alternatives that can be found on the PFMC website.
CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries. For complete ocean salmon regulations in effect during April, please visit CDFW's ocean salmon webpage or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

    Chelle Gentemann sent in this photo of three successful crabbers. Yesterday, Austin and Bennet White and Jake Rogers caught 16 Dungeness from a boat inside Tomales Bay. From the photo, it appears that they were near Marker #5. That's a pretty good start to a much-delayed season!

     These guys got invited to a post-crabbing party. If you have similar guests, it is recommended that you either A, clean them before cooking them, or B, at least discard your water after boiling your crabs and not use it for anything else. The guts can have higher levels of domoic acid and there's no point in eating extra if you can avoid it. Also, red and rock crab are not invited as their season is still closed.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Who did you think you'd see here?

Gage got the first good one!

Dungeness is open! Here, this time!

Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery Open South of Sonoma/Mendocino County Line, Commercial Fishery to Open in Seven Days

Closure of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line has been lifted, and opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery – delayed since November – is set for March 26 in the same region.
Recent test results show that domoic acid levels in crabs off the California coast south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line no longer pose a significant human health risk, according to notice given today to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after consultation with  the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
As a result, the director of OEHHA recommends opening the Dungeness crab fishery in this area. Under emergency closure regulations, CDFW will provide commercial Dungeness crab fishermen at least seven days’ notice before the re-opening of the commercial fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line, and so that fishery will open at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 26. The presoak period, during which commercial fishermen may begin getting gear in place, starts at 6:01 a.m. Friday, March 25.
Closures remain in place north of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line for the Dungeness crab commercial and recreational fisheries. The commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of Piedras Blancas Light Station near San Simeon, and in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands.
The unusually high domoic acid levels off the coast this fall and winter wrecked a Dungeness crab fishery worth as much as $90 million a year to California’s economy. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and may be fatal.
“This has been a very difficult season for hardworking Californians who have suffered significant financial hardship due to this natural disaster,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of CDFW. “We thank the affected communities for their patience and fortitude as we have worked with our partners at CDPH and OEHHA to open a portion of the commercial fishery along a traditional management boundary as recommended by the industry.”
Both the commercial and recreational Dungeness crab seasons are scheduled to end June 30 in the newly opened area, although the CDFW director has authority to extend the commercial season.
In February, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker seeking federal declarations of a fishery disaster and a commercial fishery failure in response to the continued presence of unsafe levels of domoic acid and the corresponding closures of rock crab and Dungeness crab fisheries across California. Should a federal determination be made to declare a disaster and failure, the state and federal agencies will work together to determine the full economic impact of the disaster and, upon appropriation of funds from Congress, provide economic relief to affected crabbers and related businesses.
Despite several weeks of test results that showed crab body meat samples below alert levels, one sample of viscera was slightly above the alert level. Because of this, CDPH and OEHHA strongly recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This is being recommended to avoid harm in the event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.
With the partial opening of the commercial fishery in the state, CDFW recommends that all people fishing for crab refer to the Best Practices Guide, a resource providing tips on how to use crab trap gear in a manner that reduces incidences of whale entanglements. This guide was produced collaboratively between commercial crabbers, agency staff and staff from non-profit organizations during two meetings of the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group that took place late last year.
Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on November 5 and 6, 2015, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:
Areas open to crab fishing include:
  • Recreational Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • On March 26, 2016 Commercial Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fishery along the mainland coast south of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station, San Luis Obispo County)
Areas closed to crab fishing include:
  • Recreational Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • Commercial Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries north of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.
  • CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened throughout the state.
    Here's the link to the press release:
   Teo, here, had some help catching this pile of surfperch. Some of that help must have involved taking them off of the hook, since it took a lot of coaxing to get him to hold one up for this picture. One bit a grub, but the rest all hit the 6" Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Sandworms. I've really got to start stocking those things in the store. The fish were caught this morning around the high tide. 
    In other news, the latest crab testing results came back clear again for Bodega Bay (Russian River). One more clear test from there and another clear test from Bodega Bay (Sonoma/Mendocino Co. Line - Block 408) could possibly pave the way for opening Dungeness crab up to the Sonoma/Mendocino County Line. Maybe. Just maybe.

Friday, March 11, 2016

     The Pacific Fishery Management Council has issued a draft management plan for salmon seasons for this year. For our area here, Point Arena to Pigeon Point, it looks like we will have lots of fishing opportunities. The three options are:

    1. April 2 through October 31, seven days a week, 24" minimum size until April 30, 20" minimum thereafter.

    2. April 2 through May 31 and June 11 through November 13, seven days a week, 24" minimum size through May 31, 20" minimum size thereafter.

    3. April 2 through May 31 and June 18 through November 13, seven days a week, 24" minimum size.

    Of course, none of these options include keeping silvers (coho). Even so, the worst option listed here is still way better than I had been told to expect. The commercial guys options are much more restrictive with quotas and early closures if they do too well. 2017-2018 will probably have heavily restricted seasons due to the drought and El Niño ocean conditions. There may not be as many salmon out there as had been predicted for last year (last year didn't have as many salmon as had been predicted), but we still get quite a bit of time to try to catch them. Those of you that thought last year was too easy, you're in luck! Don't you enjoy spending the whole day grinding out a single fish? It's a special feeling knowing that you've earned that fish. It sure makes it a lot harder to share those fish, though.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

    The surfperch really like the Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Sandworms, or so I'm told. There's a lot of sandcrabs out there that they're probably eating as well, but I think it would be a good idea to have some of the scented rubber worms. 
    It looks like there will probably be a salmon season this year but it will not be for as long as last year's season. They're forecasting far less salmon than last year, and last year had far less salmon than they forecast, so this year looks a bit grim when it comes to the prospects of catching salmon. We may get a season like 2010 which had Monday through Wednesday closures. Looks like I'm really going to have to figure out this sea bass thing.
    Rockfish opens here on April 15, so the rockfish are going to be available to fill in for poor salmon fishing if need be. I hope that we can go easy on them, but at least they'll be there if needed. The new regulations are out for everything but salmon, here.
    On the crab front, there is, as you would expect, fresh results. The good news is that it appears that, if the Bodega Bay (Russian River) test comes back clean again then Bodega Bay will have passed and will join Crescent City and Eureka as clean but closed. The bad news is that Trinidad failed on both tests and Fort Bragg didn't even get tested. You know, if this crabbing doesn't open up pretty soon I'm going to have to wait some more.