Sunday, July 30, 2017

     While there were a couple salmon caught in 40 to 60 feet of water yesterday, the best bite is still out in the deep (220 to 280 feet of water) off of Bodega Head. I heard of a few keepers caught less than 100 feet down but the vast majority were hooked 100 to 200 feet down. The silvers were shallower than the kings for the most part but could still be caught on the bottom, so don't think that you can escape them by going deep. For those that didn't want to play in the deep (or didn't like the weather outside; it was bit bumpy) the halibut were still biting in the bay.
  Mitch Hamilton sent in this photo and report:"Had a good day back by hog island. Jumbo jacksmelt did the trick. Son in law Brandon and grandson Travis both scored as well." A lot of people think that big jacksmelt won't work for halibut, but like Mitch, I've found that they'll try to eat them. It's often hard to hook the halibut using a big bait, but maybe Mitch will tell us his method, because it looks like he was hooking up pretty well. Nicely done, sir.

    Mike Brunkherst of Auburn caught these yesterday, the larger one weighing 29 pounds. Live bait does catch a lot of halibut, but these two ate drifted dead bait on the northwest side of Hog.

    This 21 pound halibut was caught near Marker 5 by Jeremy Nichol of Auburn today. It bit the only live jacksmelt they had for bait. Catching bait has gotten a bit difficult lately, which may account for some of the fish caught  on frozen bait. Determination, moderate currents and chum will usually pay off for the liveys. Mostly chum.
    So now I'm looking for the answer to a deep question: Which side of a halibut should you show when taking your picture? Dark colors are slimming, right? And we want our fish to look as large as possible. So in your opinion, is this 33.5 pounder larger.....

     ....or is this one larger? Jerrie Carter was kind enough to catch a big fish to model for this debate. She caught this one today on a live jacksmelt. Jerrie likes the look of the brown side, but I think the white side looks more impressive.  Comments? Polite comments, I mean?

Friday, July 28, 2017

   Bodega Jack sent in this report from yesterday:"Jim Hudelson of Rohnert Park with his limit of salmon caught today at the 17/6 line in 260' of water 125' deep. Watermelon apex."

     Kelley Roy sent in this detailed report:"Willy
A few firsts yesterday. Our first trip of the year, Shane’s first salmon, and I caught my first “silver”, as you said a lot of silvers caught yesterday. We started a little late but joined the fleet staying northwest of the mob out in the deeper water and landed a 25 inch king 220 otw straight bait anchovy, caught a silver along with a couple of take downs at the same depth. We moved in around 220-240 feet and heard reports of fish coming 150 otw so raised up to 150 and brought a 10 lbr to the boat but botched it….I left the rigger down –oops.  Hour later caught the 14-15 lbr 150 otw anchovy then watched a couple other boats hook up in the same area. A great day!" Much better than my day there. I couldn't get a bite for a long time, then lost a (probably short but who knows?) king at the boat. Then the downrigger cable twisted and frayed and without a crimper I was down to one downrigger. I wasn't catching with four lines in the water and I didn't see how half would be better, so we bailed from the deep and tried McClure's, where we lost another salmon in 40 feet of water. Finally fished Tomales Bay for a pair of 8 pound halibut between 3 and 4 pm. The water is getting a bit warmer and it looks like a few of the anchovies are starting to leave Tomales Bay, so there may be more shallow-water salmon to try for in a few days if the strong winds keep away as requested. FYI, the Tomales Bay bar had some breakers on it this morning when the fog was thick and a few people got to revisit childhood memories when their life flashed in front of their eyes, so anybody thinking of running out tomorrow should probably approach it with the proper respect (don't try if you can't see). 

     Here's a photo of what lurks beneath the murky water of Tomales Bay, sent in by Heiko Gmirr:"Caught this angel shark south of the weather buoy on dead anchovy from a kayak" That's too close for a kayak, imho.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

    Lots of salmon action today, although most of the salmon were silvers. I heard of someone on the radio saying that he had caught 11 silvers and no kings. That's a lot of endangered fish. There are still quite a few kings and a few guys found them quick and limited before noon. Same general area, 16 and 6, 17 and 7, etc. A few guys tried in closer (30 to 60 feet of water below Bird Rock) and found bait but no salmon. Soon, though, they will be there. In the bay there were a few halibut caught, mostly on live bait near the yellow buoy. Someone caught and released a 26 pound (estimated, I hope) striper near there. Raoul Duke sent in a report from yesterday: 

"Howard Koons caught this nice vermillion and two 12 pound salmon,  the salmon were at 275 feet of water off Bodega Head."

     Allen Evans of Santa Rosa sent in these photos and report:"Fished off Bird Rock in 240 feet of water...120 feet OTW...Ocean was beyond flat! One 15lb fish for a couple hours trolling." Nice water, and nice fish, Allen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

     The salmon bit well for the guys that could get their gear down to where the fish were. The fish were off of Bodega Head in 260 to 290 feet of water, 80 (early) to 160 feet down OTW. You're probably not getting that watermelon Apex down to 160 behind a trolled 2 pound ball. The guys with downriggers that I spoke with had limits or almost limits. The guys without had, well, let's just say less. Also, as ab fish mentioned in the comments today, there are a lot of silvers out there. White gums bad, black gums good. Also, God forbid you get so far, but if you net a salmon and it suddenly looks like someone spilled glitter in your boat, you just killed a silver that you need to throw over the side. Really. Don't ask how I know, I just do. Here's a photo of the day's largest salmon:

    Jesse Keilman wanted to get his picture on here again, so he drove down from South Lake Tahoe to put this 22 pound salmon in the boat, then on the report. This one came from 280 feet of water off of Bodega Head.

     I guess this is a success story. These guys went halibut fishing south of Hog but only came home with these stripers. The big one the grinning kid is holding weighed 24 pounds. I guess if you yell "striper" enough times it can come true.

   This nice photo of a limit of rockfish is to let people know that they are still biting, even though I keep talking salmon fishing on here. It makes me nervous to post this photo with the canary in it, but lets all remember, you can keep one before you have to move the boat now.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

    Again, this guy. I say they caught shallow yesterday so he runs deep. 16 by 6. A limit to 16 pounds. One on the watermelon and one on an Anchovy Special. I think he's just trying to hurt my feelings.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

     Dylan James sent in this report last night:"Got this one deep in the bay away from the chaos around Hog Island.  Leaving the pack paid off this time." You should never regret leaving the pack, Dylan. Good things can come from it. And even if they don't, it is more relaxing.

     Adam Farrow wasn't gone long before he returned with this 21 pound halibut today. The 'but came from the north side of Hog Island.

     Josh Hearn of Fairfield caught a 17 and 21 pound halibut by Hog Island today. These flatties ate live shiners.

    Finally, some nicer weather let the boats try for salmon in the ocean. Unfortunately, the only color in the 48º, cold, clear water was from the red and brown "sea nettle" jellyfish, and quite a few of them. These guys gave up on the deep water and finally found some water with some color near the shore. There they found a halibut and salmon. Dennis Carter and the smiling brothers Fogal declined to provide a more specific location than that. I heard of one other salmon caught in 160 feet of water, 25 feet down on a watermelon Apex. Now that the wind is off the water should warm up, and I wouldn't be surprised if the salmon fishing didn't pick up dramatically in the next few days.

Friday, July 21, 2017

    This photo was sent to me yesterday by a mystery fisherman. It appears to say, "the salmon are waiting for you if the wind drops enough." It looks like the halibut are there too. I saw a boat this shade of gelcoat trolling for halibut south of Hog yesterday, but the salmon came from closer to 200 feet of water during the morning wind lull. No specific location was given, but he had his fish in 30 minutes, so how hard could it be? (Hint: Probably still difficult if you aren't already hammering the fish pretty regularly.)

    Those of us that chose to stay in the bay and not risk a whuppin' found some biting halibut by Hog Island. More boats caught than didn't and the halibut were biting pretty good while the water was warmer, closer to the low tide. At the top of the tide the outside water moved in (about 52ºF) and the bite died there. There were schools of anchovies from across the bay from our pier to well past Hog Island towards Marshall. There's probably stripers and white sea bass in those schools, but finding the few dozen biting fish in 500 acres of anchovies may be difficult.

   Some of you, even those of you miles from the ocean, may have heard Gage screaming "STRIIPEER!!!" yesterday morning. It wasn't. It was a decent halibut, and maybe now he can calm down a little and get back to working the gear.
    Good news for all of those little halibut south of Hog. Jake caught the big bully halibut, so all of the teeny ones won't get picked on anymore. Thanks, Jake.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

    The wind kept most of the boats in the bay today. Those that did venture out of the bay ended up at Hog Island a little after everyone else. Everyone I spoke with had halibut but none were big enough for the scale. Lots of missed bites reported, probably, from my experience, from shorties nibbling. I'm not bragging, but  yes, I have a lot of shorty experience.  Shorty fish, for the record. Anyhow, many of the fish bit on drifted dead bait.
     On a separate note, for the record, Captain Jeff on the Miss Anita is a fish catcher. Some guys have said some crappy things in the comments but my experience and what I hear from his clients is all good. If I'm fishing somewhere and he shows up it makes me feel like I must know what I'm doing. Just saying, you want to beat up on a guy that's outfishing you, do it someplace else, cause from here on out I'm deleting those comments. The internet is huge. Be a di(troll)ck elsewhere.

California Boater Card

Something to look forward to, folks:

Coming Soon
The California Boater Card   

Author: Bria Miller, Vessel Operator Card Program, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways
    California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is implementing the new California Boater Card (CBC) program this year. The CBC shows that its owner has successfully taken and passed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators/State approved boating safety course. Not a license, the CBC is a lifetime card and no renewal process is required. Beginning January 1, 2018, operators aged 20 and under are required to carry a CBC while operating a motorized vessel on California waterways. The CBC requirement will continue to phase in by age through 2025, when all motorized boat operators, regardless of age, are required to have a card. The one-time fee for the CBC is $10.
    To accommodate motorized boat operators who have already taken an approved boating safety course and passed an exam from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2017, DBW will grandfather their earned certificates to be eligible for a new boater card. These boaters can use their prior certificate to apply for a CBC during 2018 only, the first year of the CBC’s implementation.
    Regardless of age, boaters will be able to apply and pay for their CBC anytime. After January 1, 2018, boaters can get their CBC by; 1) Taking and passing an approved boating safety course, 2) Applying for the California Boater Card, 3) Carrying your card while boating.
    Some powerboat operators and others are exempt from the CBC requirements. Boaters should visit for a list of the program exemptions.

Monday, July 17, 2017

    How about that wind, eh? No takers on the ocean today. There was one camper that lost their drone when the wind blew it away, so probably not a good day to use your drone to spot stripers in the surf. As luck would have it, there are some stripers still back by Hog Island so you can keep your drone safe.
    This 20.5 pound striper was caught by Dan Riffle of Grass Valley on live bait near the weather buoy at Pelican Point. 

     Also eating live bait was this 30 pound halibut, caught by Greg Wuden of Sacramento. As I understand it, it was also near Hog Island when it decided to eat the wrong fish.

    Raul Duke sent in this report from yesterday:"Melissa caught 3 keeper flatties, Kevin and I watched the magic happen.  Behind Hog Island drifting live jack smelt."

Sunday, July 16, 2017


    The water wasn't the nicest yesterday but quite a few boats got out to chase and catch salmon. Most of the catching took place between the 38º 14' and 38º 16' lines in 220 to 240 feet of water. These pictures are from the Predator's catch yesterday.
     Today Steve Towne (and most of the fishermen that launched) went toward Hog instead of the open sea. Mr. Towne caught a keeper halibut and this 25 pound striper, both near the weather buoy. I guess Steve just couldn't let that little kid have the big striper title.

    Speaking of not being able to keep the big striper title, Bryce Andersen sent in this report from yesterday:"Started the day 6:00 at Nick Cove ramp while waiting on the water for my friends to show up. My GPS stopped working, we were heading out for salmon that I am glad it stopped working at the ramp, the fog was bad. Loaded up my friends waited till the fog lifted, started catching some Jack Smelt. We picked up the Striper in front of Hog Island. Overall it was a great day on the water “Life is Good”.

Boat’s name “Slickspot”  SOC member
Skipper: Bryce Andersen  
Lucky fisherman: Rick Carpenter
Final weight at the dock 29lbs"
   These are some nice striper photos, but I'm ready for some white sea bass shots, preferably with me in them, but if not your photos will do.

Friday, July 14, 2017

   More to report today, with more salmon successes from 13 to 15 N and 4 to 6 W (say within a mile of 38º 14'by 123º 5') with the fish biting higher early and going deeper down during the day. Finding the right depth was challenging for some, but don't be tempted to run more lines than you have fishermen as that would be an expensive mistake. Straight baits seemed to be the most successful technique but the watermelon Apex always has a body count. In the bay a few of the halibut decided to bite again and a couple of white sea bass were hooked and released (not intentionally). The bar didn't have any halibut but it did have this:

   Eight year old Teo Lally fed a shiner perch to this 21 pound striper on the bar this morning. If you zoom in, you might be able to see the scars on its jaw from Sam Morita's hooks...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Shoulda, coulda, woulda

Greg Gartrell showed me what would have been waiting for me out at 14 and 4, had I gone there. I chose to troll the brown and relatively bait-filled waters near Bird Rock. Bait doesn't guarantee salmon. Fishing the fleet at 14 and 4 doesn't guarantee salmon, either, but at least you're dragging your bait by salmon. I wise man once told me, "you can't catch what isn't there." Some people can, but not me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

     Bob Bedsworth caught this 19 pound striper near Hog Island yesterday. There were a few halibut caught back there as well but the fishing has dropped off in the last week to ten days. The wind has cooled the water a bit but it still remains between 57º and 64º at the weather buoy near Hog. It looks like we might have a few decent weather days coming up, and if that doesn't make the fish bite it will at least make the boat ride better. We might even get a chance at the salmon again this weekend, although the water will probably still be bumpy. Here's a few pictures I missed posting while I was out:

     Yes, that's a sturgeon, and yes, it was snagged on a jig, and yes, it was released. It is good to know that there are still some sturgeon in Tomales Bay (at least one) and you can fish for them if you don't mind catching and releasing about 200 bat rays for each shot at a sturgeon. At least it's steady action...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

     It's pretty windy out there but a few boats went out and roughed it today, at least for a few hours in the morning. Many of those that toughed it out came back empty but a few guys caught salmon. This one, caught by Mike Laymance of Grass Valley, weighed 20 pounds and was caught right in front of red Buoy "02" while trolling. There were stories of other shallow water "beach" fish but I didn't see them.

     This 15 pound striper was caught on a live shiner drifted through a school of anchovies near Hog Island. There was quite a few boats fishing by Hog today, especially by afternoon when the wind kicked up outside, but not a lot of halibut success. There have been a (very) few white sea bass caught near Hog in the last couple of weeks but it's probably likelier to catch the striped kind. The bay shoreline has had a few sharks, spiny dogfish and leopard, in the last couple weeks, the surf is still giving up some nice surfperch. The full moon this weekend should be the right time for surf stripers but someone may need to tell them that.

Friday, July 7, 2017

    I was away for a week, but my son Cameron filled in for me. In my absence the salmon arrived, even though the weather wasn't quite the best. Some of those that braved the wind brought home some nice fish. This photo and report was submitted by "Raul Duke": "275 feet of water, west of Tomales point, 120 feet otw, cable baiter with anchovy"

      Tim Lewis caught a 27 pound salmon on July 4th to go with his nice halibut from the 2nd.

     Today Mason Lessard's boat brought in another 27 pound halibut. He seems to be stuck at 27. There's worse problems, I believe.

   Here's a picture sent in from Richard Baratta on the 4th of July:"Hey Willy
Had a chance to go fishing the other day, choose San Francisco Bay because the Tomales Bay wind was like blowing hard. Caught the big one! It must have been on vacation from Alaska ha ha what comes to California stays in California.
Richard" This fish weighed 40 pounds. Very nice fish, sir.

    Speaking of Alaska (thanks for the segue, Richard) I went there last week. I had a good time and watched some nice fish get caught by some good friends. Turns out I'm a heck of a cheerleader. More local reports to follow.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Strong southern winds have been keeping most off the water. The wind will likely continue. Many that went out came back skunked. I would recommend staying on the shore for a couple of days if the conditions don't improve. However, that's not to say that everyone who braved the weather went unrewarded. Yesterday, a few boats came back with halibut. The first picture below is of Tim Lewis of Roseville with a 22 lb halibut. That halibut and the other pictured both came from around Hog. The 18 lb striper pictured also came from back there. More halibut and stripers were hooked and sighted by those I spoke to.

I also have confirmed salmon in decent numbers. The picture below is from David Jones and friends of Sacramento. They caught a total of four fish today, the largest of which weighed in at 20 lbs. They were trolling in 35-40 ft of water off of Elephant. Three, including the largest, pictured, came on a Watermelon Apex. 

Gage told me he spoke to a guy who said his crew produced eight salmon mooching off of Abbot's. I have yet to get a picture, but when I do, I'll show it here. 

Again, to recap, the weather is bad. You probably should not go out. But be ready to go when the weather lies down.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I suppose it's only natural that the wind comes to a peak on our Fourth of July weekend. Still, a few people gave it a try the last few days and some weren't disappointed. The area surrounding Hog Island has been putting out halibut at a decent rate. There have also been stripers caught in that area. Stripers and perch have been landed on the beach during incoming tides. Today's peak fishing should be about 5pm on the beach, if you're in the area. I heard a rumor that a kayaker landed a pretty good sized salmon off Bodega Head on Thursday, but I didn't see it, so I can't vouch for it. Dungeness picked up right before the end of its season yesterday, and people were happily pulling in more than enough reds for dinner today.

As you likely know, the chances of catching halibut off the pier at the boathouse are slim to none. Boat traffic and nearby seals spook them off. But any fisherman can tell you that the right stroke of luck will result in an exception to the rule. In this young fisherwoman's case, though, I am certain that only skill was involved. Pictured is Tatum and her 11 pound halibut, caught off our pier on a Sabiki rig as I was writing this.

This is made exceptionally interesting because a halibut of similar size was reportedly hooked and brought to the surface on the pier yesterday, but ultimately lost. Was it the same fish coming back for seconds? Two completely separate fish? Or do we have a school of halibut under the pier? It's a hard call, and only time will tell. Tatum, you impressed a lot of people today and we expect great things from you.