Friday, September 30, 2016

      Here's Ed Parsons with a nice salmon he caught on Wednesday in 60-70 feet of water off of McClure's North end. Note the clear water in the picture. It takes a very skilled or very lucky fisherman to catch in clear water like that. Ed, you know who you are. 
      Or maybe I'm just snarky because I couldn't catch one yesterday. The weather didn't allow for a Cordell run and it was barely decent enough for a salmon mission in a small boat. My salmon mission rapidly devolved to a rockfish mission, and we got our limits and went home. I only heard of rockfish aboard the boats from here. I did hear of sardines and mackerel back by Hog Island if anyone sees a weather window for a bluefin run in the near future. 
      So, Dungeness season should be coming up, but the testing looks funny. Six of eleven tests have had Dungeness slightly over the "FDA Action Level" of 30 ppm. Interestingly, one of three tests on lobster in Southern California has also had a failure, yet lobster season opens tomorrow. Maybe that's a good sign for us, but I see three possible reasons why they are doing it:
      1. Southern California gets treated different anyhow. Because of people or money, they get special treatment. Or, maybe because they can handle some toxic crap in their food. Have you seen their air?
      2. No other state has closed a lobster season, so there's no precedent that could be shown that said they dropped the ball if someone got sick. Southern California red crab had way high domoic acid in the summer of 2015 but nobody got sick. Oregon closed their Dungeness season and boom! so did California. 
      3. Maybe the "FDA Action Level" is too low. To the best of my knowledge, nobody looked for domoic acid until recently. It would be interesting to know the "normal" variation in levels in years past. It seems very likely that we've been happily eating small amounts of this stuff all along. Nobody checked for it until someone got sick. I have heard through the grapevine that the State is reevaluating its procedures regarding the crab, and I hope that this is true. Otherwise, I have to make a trip to SoCal for lobster that's no safer or more dangerous than the Dungeness.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

     Nick Nichols sent in this picture from Saturday in front of Bird Rock. Anybody know what that shape in the water is? Don't worry, it would know you. You're not allowed to fish for these, either.

    Kelley Roy sent in this report from yesterday:"There’s salmon out there, it’s not rock fishing so you just have to put in the time.
We got a late start and put the lines in  straight out of Tomales in 150 feet of water at 9:30, there were birds and whales working but we were not marking much bait. Around 11:00  in the matter of 30 minutes we had 4 good take downs with one smaller salmon sticking and we somehow snapped the leader at the boat – I thought those days were over……..
We then moved down to McClure’s and tried the beach for a couple runs for nada then headed back out to the Tree’s in 130 to 150 feet of water and trolled north, same deal birds and whales but only seeing a little bait. At 3:30 within 20 minutes we had 2 salmon in the box.
Four of the hits came on a watermelon apex at 70 – 80 feet otw and 2 hits came on a crippled anchovy at about 50 pulls.

Gorgeous day on the water – hope these salmon stick around for a few more weeks.

Good luck!"

     Bob King caught these salmon today in 130 feet of water off of McClure's. There were a few other fish caught there, as well as 50 feet of water in front of Bird Rock, but the bait, birds, and dark water of Monday had all disappeared. Cold clear water prevails, but apparently you can still catch fish in it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

      For the record, my posts this week have been accurate and up to date. Nothing happened except for wind. Saturday, the weather got better but not the fishing. Some rockfish came in, and lots of bait fish were seen, but no salmon or halibut landed here. Today, Vern Sasaki caught a limit of salmon, one from 160 feet of water off of Tomales Point, and one from 30 feet of water on McClure's. Lots of bait around, but not too many fish. Now that the wind has passed I think we'll see the salmon pick back up as the ocean settles back down. I hope. I also hope that all the whispers about bluefin are true. Weather permitting I'll be taking the boys and wife out to Cordell on Thursday. Live mackerel are kind of hard to come by this year, so lures will have to do it. I heard that the GT Style was out scouting for macks today, so someone else thinks that there may be some truth to the rumors. I hope we're right and the weather allows a run. I need nice weather for chasing wild geese.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

     The past few days the catching has been slow but not completely shut off. At least, not for the skilled and lucky.

      Jason Neff caught this 21 pound salmon on Friday.

     Mike Morgan's 25 pound halibut was one of four flatfish brought in by him, Jigger John, and Frank Green. Live bait at McClure's Beach worked for them.

     I didn't get the details but knowing these guys and seeing the fish they caught, they were trolling Ten Mile, probably with VK heads holding their bait. There were not a lot of fish brought in overall, but there's still quite a bit of bait out there and the water conditions don't completely suck, so there may be some more action before it's all over. Zach Liddle, one of our local fish counters, said he counted a 50+ pound white seabass caught in the outer bay on Friday, so that's interesting. Zach, you need to take a few pictures of these fish and send them over. We all want need to know.

Friday, September 16, 2016

      Alec Bennett went out with Bob King on Wednesday and caught this 26 pound salmon as part of their limits. Their fish were trolled up by the Keyholes. Most of the fishermen did well on salmon, mostly off of Ten Mile Beach but also in the outer bay. Both bites died yesterday and only a few fish were brought in here. I lucked in to four salmon at McClure's and saw four others caught there, but I wouldn't call it a good bite. Halibut was almost dead in the bay and on the beach.

     Jack Stevens sent in this report:"Attached is photo of Stacey Szczekocki's first ever salmon.  We fished off Fort Ross on Sunday Sept. 11th. with bait in 80' of water.  Stacey's fish was the only salmon caught that day." That fish looks like it would have won our salmon derby.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

     Scott Edson sent in this report, probably just to make me feel bad :"Last Friday 50' of water, outer bay, 62" 61.5# gutted and gilled, certain there's more around" At least he's throwing us a bone at the last. 
     The salmon are still pretty steady on the South end of Ten Mile Beach, from 20 to 60 feet of water (find the bait, find the fish). I haven't heard of many larger sized ones but the average is around 10 to 12 pounds. Bait and watermelon Apexes seem to be the ticket. Very few halibut are finding their way aboard the boats, though, even at Hog.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

     Here's the winners of the 5th Annual Merle Lawson Memorial Salmon Derby. This year's derby had 60 competitors but only smaller fish landed. The biggest fish only went 15 pounds gutted, but there were four of them, so the order in which they were weighed in gave us the winners. Mike Nursement got 1st and $1750, I was 2nd with $1100, and Tim Woerner was 3rd with $650. All three winning fish were caught in 50 to 60 feet of water off of Bird Rock. Yes, I know I shouldn't be winning, but all the money for entry goes back to the prizes and not for the party, which is paid for out of pocket. I don't catch big fish, anyway, so it took a small fish day to give me a chance. A special thanks to Tammy Barton, who donated and extra $500 to the jackpot. Thanks to everyone that came out. It was good to see old friends and meet new ones. I hope to see more of you at the 6th Annual derby.

     Yesterday and today the best bite with the most fish came from the far end of Ten Mile. These fish caught today were at the Towers but other guys did well at the parking lots down to the Point. Lots of bait scattered down the South end of the beach. A few halibut were caught but only a very few.

     Richard Baratta caught this surf striper on Friday evening. The evenings have been the best bite for the bass.

Friday, September 9, 2016

     Richard Baratta sent in this picture of a nice Tomales Bay halibut he caught today. There haven't been a whole bunch of those lately, so nice job Richard. There were a few salmon brought in today from Bodega Head down to Point Reyes. No single spot sounded all that great, but most of the guys I talked to are fishing the Derby and maybe don't want to share their good info. It seems that the outer bay is now baitless but some of that baitfish moved outside the reef to 120 feet of water. Of course, they moved two miles last night, so they may not be there tomorrow. I guess we'll find out where the big ones are at the weigh-in tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The outer bay bite was in the afternoon after everybody left. The morning was dead and only a few fish were caught. We had one at 10:00, one at 1:00 and four between 1:30 and 3:00. Two on the bottom and four 25 ft down. Other fish were caught on Ten Mile, off of Mussel Point in 210 ft, and further North near the Russian River. There's so much bait in the outer bay and the water has some decent color to it, so it seems pretty difficult to me to run past it. But, after a few hours with no bites, I understand looking elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

     These guys limited on salmon today. Nothing on the boat at 2:00, limited by 3:00. It's probably a secret spot, except that you could see all the boats from the beach (as far as secrets go, this one needs more fog). Just West of buoy "02" was a small fleet of boats trolling back and forth, and when the school came in the nets were waving all over. With luck the number of boats won't increase to the point the school doesn't come in tomorrow. What are the chances, though, really? It's a secret.....

     Bryan Steward sent in this report from last week:"Sorry for the delay, as my son Matt caught this the 8/31 on a Jacksmelt. Great fight, the shark jumped out of the water 3 times as he chased him around the boat. Location of the catch was 1/2 mi. south of Hog Island. "
     Then there's this Monday report from Kevin Fogal:"Fished with Paul Boley today ,like the good old days. We caught 4 salmon to 14 lbs ! 2 on watermelon apex 1 on blue / chrome Rhys Davis head with a anchovy and one on a green Krippled anchovy, with a sardine . We fished between tomales point and bodega head in 200 feet of water 100 feet down OTW!!" So the salmon are still out there in the cold, clear water that the wind blew in. Lots of bait still in the outer bay where the water is a bit warmer and colored. Salmon? I don't know, but there's several commercial boats trolling right in front of Dillon Beach where the bait has been. Lots of bait back by Hog but only a couple of halibut yesterday.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

     Well, the cold water seems to have shut down the halibut bite, so it looks like the salmon have come in to feed in their place. This 18 pound king was caught by marker number 7, near Hog Island. The current thinking is that it followed some of the schools of anchovies back into the bay. There could be more of them back there, but probably not enough to target.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Derby, and the big one that thankfully got away

     And here's a report from last weekend, from Kevin Evoy:"1st time writer, long time reader.So last Saturday, we are trolling for salmon in 130 ft of water off Bird Rock. We hook a salmon at 90 ft OTW, rod gets picked up , salmon on .Then there is some weird tension and loseness on rod.3 seconds later, 40 feet behind the boat, a 10-12 foot long Great White shark flies 6 feet in the air behind the boat.AWESOME!!!! Scary!   Salmon gone, bring line in.FBR still there, bait and salmon gone.....Most incredible thing I've ever seen.   We stopped bleeding the fish over the side of the boat, stopped sitting on side of boat too"