Saturday, December 29, 2018

The rockfishing has been on the slow side for the couple of boats that made it out into the ocean from here. The crabbing has been slow too, except for Eddie Kim's catch of 35 Dungeness by marker 5 yesterday. That was about 30 more than the next best total that I heard of from the same day. Today at least one boat had a dozen Dungeness back by Hog. The pier crabbers are catching a few with most everyone catching a couple of crabs (mostly reds, but still...). Only another couple of days for rockfish, then we're waiting for April Fool's Day.
   Gage also says the surfperch are still biting. He found a hole on the North end of the beach and it had quite a few perch in it, this being the only one big enough to be worth keeping. The man says the Berkley Power Bait Sandworms in the tub full of juice is the best thing going. Too bad we don't sell those here. Yet.

Monday, December 24, 2018

   Just watched a bunch of sea lions, pelicans and seagulls hammer on a school of herring as they moved into the bay past Sand Point. They were definitely too far out for a cast net to reach but a boat would have done the trick. Maybe I'll get my pickled herring this year. And maybe there's a few stripers following these herring into the bay. The pier has had a few Dungeness caught in the last few days with one crabber catching six yesterday morning with traps and snares. He was using squid, if that helps. He did better than some of the boats that tried inside the bay yesterday.

Friday, December 21, 2018

    Either the fish are getting bigger or Gage's hand is shrinking. Gage assures me that it's the fish that are enlarging. During a lull in the surf yesterday afternoon a few fish were biting in the one hole Gage could find left on the beach. The extensive onslaught of big and bigger surf has erased most of the structure in the shore break but some normal-sized swell should install some new nooks and crannies. Crabbing in the bay has has remained slow for Dungeness with only a few being caught this week. The reds have been pretty good but, lucky for the reds, that's not what most crabbers are after. The ocean has been off limits to Tomales Bay fishermen. Maybe tomorrow? Then back to the big stuff. There's nothing like 10 to 14 foot swells to keep us home for the holidays. That said, merry Christmas (or whatever winter solstice holiday you celebrate) to all. The days are getting longer again and the next rockfish/salmon/tuna season is coming. May you and yours have almost as good a season next year as Gage.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

   As promised, one picture of Gage's hand (with fish). Gage hit the surf this morning before the rain and waves got too bad and caught a few on the North end of the beach. The next couple of days probably won't be too good for any ocean activity except for watching it from a safe distance. After the big swell rolls through the perch and the Dungeness should return to the shallows. Hopefully the perch will be a little larger when they return.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

    Look what's biting at Point Reyes. I don't know any more than that. I'm assuming it got tossed back, which was probably how it got there in the first place. There was some woman last month releasing tilapia into Lake Chabot in order to save them. She'll probably be disappointed when they poison the lake. Lobsters are way better than tilapia any day.  The surfperch are biting on Dillon Beach on the medium tides and soon I should be posting more pictures of Gage's hand.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

   Yesterday the water was nice (except the bar on outgoing tide- no bueno) and a few boats went out and caught rockfish and Dungeness. The sea comes back up tomorrow with the Northwest wind following the rain. Commercial crab pots started dropping from Bodega Head to Gualala on Friday morning, so we're all crabbing the same water now. The Northern commercial Dungeness season has been delayed until at least the end of the year so the number of commercial boats will remain the same until early next year. Speaking of next year, the good news is that rockfish in our area will open earlier on April 1st. The bad news is that you'll only be able to keep one lingcod.

    § 27.35. San Francisco Groundfish Management Area. This Section applies to take and possession of federally-managed groundfish species as defined in Section 1.91, California sheephead, ocean whitefish, and all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos. For specific definitions, applicability, and procedures, see sections 1.91 and 27.20. For size limits, possession limits, and other regulations that apply to individual species, see specific sections beginning with Section 27.60.
    (a) The San Francisco Groundfish Management Area means ocean waters between 38º 57.50' N. lat. (at Point Arena, Mendocino County) and 37º 11' N. lat. (at Pigeon Point, San Mateo County).
    (b) Seasons and depth constraints (except as provided in subsection (c) below): (1) January 1 through March 31: Closed. - 2 - (2) April 1 through December 31: Take of all species is prohibited seaward of a line approximating the 40-fathom depth contour along the mainland coast and along islands and offshore seamounts. The 40-fathom depth contour is defined by straight lines connecting the set of 40-fathom waypoints as adopted in Federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart G).
    (c) Leopard shark may be taken or possessed in Drake's Bay, Bolinas Bay, Tomales Bay, Bodega Harbor, and San Francisco Bay year-round.

    § 28.27. Lingcod.
    (a) Open areas, seasons, and depth constraints: See Section 27.20 through Section 27.50 for definitions, special closure areas, and exceptions. Take and possession is authorized as follows:
     (3) San Francisco Groundfish Management Area: Open and closed dates and depth constraints as defined by Section 27.35. - 6 - 
    (b) Limit is authorized as follows: 
    (3) San Francisco Groundfish Management Area: One
    (c) Minimum size: 22 inches total length.

   Also coming in April: Salmon season will open on the 6th with a 24" minimum size.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

    The swell peaked at over 16 feet at Point Reyes today so I hope everybody got their shallow crab gear out of the water. If you didn't, I guess the only good news is that you don't have to go get it now. Maybe the big swell will push a few Dungeness into the bay. I poked my nose out for a quick rockcod trip yesterday and caught dinner but they weren't biting real quick, at least for me. The water was flat and the 59º temperature at the Point Reyes buoy looked kind of interesting, as this is supposed to be the time of year a few big bluefin go by. I guess I'll let 'em pass. The crabbing inside Tomales Bay has remained slow (I spoke to a gentleman on Saturday that had caught 16 in three days crabbing, 9 of them from the pier and 7 across the bay) but definitely safer than outside.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Just a couple quick notes. I heard that a commercial boat sank off of Point Reyes yesterday morning. No other news than that, so hopefully it means that everybody got out okay and disappointed the news media. I also heard that somebody put some dye balloons on their gear and found them popped today when they checked their pots. So, like SETI, we should all be on the watch for little green men. That's proof. Just because someone is catching and you aren't doesn't mean they're cheating. Spend a lot of time on the water and pay attention and your catch goes up. At least, that's what Gage told me.

Friday, November 16, 2018

    The commercial boys dropped their gear on Wednesday morning and started pulling it yesterday. The numbers of crab South of Bodega Head are likely to fall off pretty quickly, which probably means that most of the guys still crabbing will move their gear North if they haven't already. There's a fair amount of water North of the Head, but I bet you'll still find most of the buoys in clusters. There was another bad crab (52 ppm) off of the Russian River, so the commercials need two clean tests to start fishing above the Head. Looks like it won't be until December. The outer bay crabbing has slowed down quite a bit, even though the boat traffic seems to have increased on the South end of the bay. Inside Tomales Bay there's still a few Dungeness being caught but only a few. Gage caught four in one pot on an overnight soak in five feet of water at a secret location inside the bay but that's all he'll let me say. I heard of a halibut caught in a crab pot inside the bay today, so while they may not be biting at least one guy was catching. FYI, the law says you must release any fish you catch in your crab trap, no matter how much you want to keep it.

Monday, November 12, 2018

    It's not the halibut he was looking for but Mike Mack seems okay with his striper he caught while trolling near Marshall. He said that there's still a lot of bait back there and he also lost another, larger silver-colored fish. Salmon? WSB? Only the fish knows. The crabbing slowed a bit more, both in and out of Tomales Bay. Ten Mile has held up so far but the commercial pots will start dropping in the water on Wednesday, so the size and quantity of crab there will likely drop rapidly. North of Bodega Head will be open to sport fishermen only for a while longer, so that'll be your best bet for good numbers this weekend through Thanksgiving week, depending on the crab tests.
    You know, one of the benefits of living here is the ability to check your crab gear from your front yard. With a decent telescope you can count the number of crabs in your pots when other guys pull your traps. This got me to thinking; If a bank can put a dye bomb in the bag of money carried away by a robber, is there any reason why a water balloon full of bait dye attached to a crab pot line would get somebody in trouble? The balloon pops in an electric pot puller and marks the offender without harming him. Asking for a friend.

Friday, November 9, 2018

    Not much new to report. Inside the bay has been slow for the Dungeness, although a very few guys are catching limits or close to limits. Wednesday a boat with three guys limited by noon and another boat had 16 Dungeness for a pair of fishermen over the course of the day. So, it's possible to do well in the bay, just really unlikely. Ten Mile has been consistently good and the outer bay has a lot of good ground still. These crabs in the photo are outer bay crab from an overnight soak. I haven't heard of any halibut since the opener. The water temperature has dropped to 51º which probably isn't going to kickstart a feeding frenzy. At least the rockfish don't mind the cold.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

   Dungeness season in Tomales Bay started off kind of slow and then has tapered off from there. The outer bay still has some good crab but it seems that many of the pots are moving North. I'm not sure if that's because the crabbing is slowing down in the South part or if there's some vain hope of escaping pot pirates by going farther away from the busiest port (Newsflash: They're like Visa -"Everywhere You Want To Be").  If you feel you must go farther, these gentlemen in the photo told me that yes, there's still quite a few crab down on Ten Mile. Running out of Tomales Bay means crossing over the bar which was breaking today (8-10 foot swell). Everybody made it in safe, but one crabber noted that it might be a good idea for our store to carry clean underwear in the future. 

    Here's a close-up of one of these Ten Mile crab with an extra claw on his claw. It kind of reminds me of John Madden's six-legged turkey. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

   The Nursements and crew got to witness one of Mother Nature's killing machines doing what they do best on Sunday as the "Man in the Gray Suit" performed his duties on a sea lion off of Bird Rock. "Uncle Bigbite" never came out of the water but they could see his shadow cruising around, waiting to make sure dinner wouldn't flop around too much. I'd like to think that it was the sea lion that was trying to eat my salmon a few months back. I'm sure it wasn't, but I like thinking that it might be. Unless you're a surfer, great white sharks (and sunfish) do the lords work, eating the things that bother you when you're fishing. If you're a surfer that fishes for salmon, I guess you may have some really complicated feelings about the mighty whitey.

   The final report on Ten Mile crabbing from Team Nursement:"Even with crappy seas our haul was good and tasty!!!"

    Here's a crab report from Kelley Roy :"Hey Willy
Did ok down on 10 mile on the opener Saturday, we were able to do a 4 hour soak and were 1 shy of 3 limits – had to let a couple of questionable ones go but our keepers were decent size crab.
The ocean was not the prettiest and my son who was on his 2nd crabbing trip commented there has to be an easier way to get crab, I am thinking right along with him…..having trailer and motor  problems only added to the work.  I only crab once a year as the crab is my least favorite sea fare – give me anything that swims in the ocean but I leave the shell creatures alone for the most part."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

   Inside Tomales Bay it was pretty tough crabbing for Dungeness yesterday but most of the guys I talked to were lucky enough to catch a few. The smiling gentleman above and his fishing partner limited on nice-sized Dungeness by noon but they were the exception. Those that braved the ocean waters did better on average but just being in the outer bay was no guarantee of success. Remember folks, if you aren't 100% sure that you're on the crab, check 'em soon after you drop 'em and find out. There's nothing like that sick feeling when you realize you left your gear all day to soak in a blank spot and the guys 100 yards away clobbered them. Trust, but verify. There was about a 12 pound halibut caught across the bay on Friday but I think all of the crab gear pinned the fish to bottom on Saturday. Today the wind that had been forecast showed up on the beach and made things unpleasant, especially in the ocean.The forecast is bad for the next couple of days.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

   So, no pictures, just observations. Not too many Dungeness crab being tossed back by the red crabbers in the last month. The crabbers were complaining about the Dungeness, then not. From my dive under the pier a few weeks ago I can say: doesn't look good inside the bay. An outer bay red crabber (I know; I didn't think such a thing existed either) said that there were a disappointing number (for him) of Dungeness crab in the outer bay. I hope that remains true. It would seem that inside the bay may (suck) not be that good but outside might be good for a while. The weather forecast is sub-optimal for the weekend but more disappointing than possibly fatal (windier than swell). I think that the outer bay will be doable and Ten Mile, maybe (depends on your level of abuse tolerance). The rockfish bite is so-so, as Gage and I caught only 9 fish today (I missed his ling with the gaff; should have been 10) in two hours of fishing what should have been a premiere area (Ten Mile). Nice sized fish, 2 to 5 pounds, but still, you could see schools on the meter and they mostly wouldn't bite. We threw a pretty good variety at them for just a few takers. As I said, disappointing, but damned tasty. One other thing, I have heard that trophies have been prepared for the opener. Awards like "Most Dangerous Crabber" and "Voted Most Likely To Foul A Prop" will be attached to some of the longer floating crab pot lines that will inevitably appear tomorrow. The anonymous awardsman's intent is to educate and entertain. I'm sure that nobody that reads this blog would win such an award, but if you see someone else "winning", make sure they they know how to be a submerged-rope-loser like the rest of us.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

    Nick Bauer caught two halibut on the bar while jigging with Zach Liddle on Thursday. Conditions were a little spooky with thick fog and almost-breaking waves making this location probably not my first recommendation, but Nick and Zach made it work and made it home safe. I found a 12 pound halibut further in the bay, right across from the Landing. Mine bit a frozen anchovy. I also caught a keeper salmon at Abbott's and lost two other salmon. It was hard to find the feeding birds (if there were any) in the thick fog, so it was literally blind trolling. They're still there, though. My prediction is that the salmon bite will go off, wide open, on Thursday. (Wednesday is the last day) Dungeness opens on Saturday at 12:01 AM , which also means that crab traps can't go into the water until 12:01 AM Saturday. You can still crab for reds but with snares and ring nets only. Everybody change your cottons. You have been warned. Not my fault if your pot opens up and you spill your crab. Commercial crabbers change their cottons twice a season. You should probably do it at least once. While you're at it, make sure your GOID number is still legible on your buoy. Fish and Game will.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

   Here's a report from David White:"Willy- We fished the bar on the incoming tide Sunday morning and got these halibut from 23 to 35 inches. Thanks for the good advice from Lawsons—I suspect it was one of your sons.  Polite and very helpful!   Frozen herring and live mudskippers worked equally well. Thanks again!" Nicely done, guys. The advice didn't come from Gage, as he was out catching salmon Sunday morning. The anchovies are on the move and as long as the water conditions allow we should be able to catch a few halibut in the channels and on the bar (NOTE: Larger swell late this week means the bar is probably off limits). The last two evenings I fished across the bay from the Landing between 6:00 and 7:00 PM for one halibut (Gage caught it) that ate a frozen anchovy and a jig. The salmon bite continues with mostly smaller fish being caught from Bird Rock down to the Keyholes in 50 to 100 feet of water. Watch for the birds feeding. A couple points of etiquette:

Don't net a fish you're going to release. There are special nets made to do less damage to the fish but not putting them in a net in the first place is probably better.

Even when you're careful, some of those short fish you released will die. Hooking less short fish ultimately means killing less short fish, and if you aren't eating them you shouldn't be killing them. That said, I've left my own trail of dead and dying fish this year. I just try to keep the trail short.

Here's a rule: Don't drive through diving birds. Just don't. The feeding frenzy that the birds are marking for you will break up and the birds and salmon will leave. And it'll be your fault. Circle around the edges where the salmon are picking off the baitfish away from the school. If you drive through the birds and someone yells at you or throws weights at you, well, they're right to do so. Stop it.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

 Here's the salmon report from the guys that were catching :"12 salmon total, all over 20 (23-25in) biggest about 8lbs Still allot of fun even though they were not monsters hit 3 within an hour then played catch and release until around 3pm before we got hungry and reeled in the last one and called it. elephant rock to the key holes 70' of water at 40 pulls" The salmon are biting again today, same size as yesterday but a little bit shallower water. By noon we already had two boats return with their limits. Still waiting to see a flatfish.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

   There were a couple more halibut caught on the bar today, along with a striper. There was a good salmon bite at Elephant Rock in 70 feet of water, mostly smaller fish but hey, it's the second half of October; any salmon is a damned good one. Look for the diving pelicans.  Then fish by them.

Friday, October 19, 2018

   How about two limits of halibut to 17.5  pounds? Plus a couple of small keepers released. Plus a bunch of sand sole. It sounds pretty good to me. These guys did it today on the bar, which hopefully will be calmer for the next few days. Today was kind of sketchy, where it didn't quite break but it was definitely thinking hard about it. The swell is predicted to be smaller tomorrow and the weather guys are always right, so.... There were a couple of other halibut caught in the channel near the pier with a lot less drama and worry, so maybe that might be a better recommendation.
   I received this report yesterday from Rick Murphy:"Hey Willie

Late Report, my buddy Hugh got this 27lb trolling off McClure's yesterday. Fish came at 70’ otw in 85’ of water. Right at first light then 3 scratched baits in the next 30 mins, nothing after that." It looks to me like your buddy needs to buy a larger ice chest if he's gonna continue catching fish like that. It's a good problem to have.
    There's still a few salmon being caught from Elephant down to the first parking lot on Ten Mile. Unfortunately the large swell this week has given the ocean rocks a nice bikini wax and all that surf grass is floating right where you want to troll. The swell has also made crossing the bar at the mouth of Tomales Bay a bit sketchy, sketchy meaning potentially fatal. Storms in the Gulf of Alaska will send a long-wavelength swell down here and apparently it has been stormy in the Gulf. At least there's still a few halibut in the bay.
    As far as the sport Dungeness crab season opener, my guess is that it will happen on schedule with a possible "clean before you cook" warning. Lobster has a lower "action level" than crab (20 ppm lobster, 30 ppm crab) and have had higher domoic acid levels than the crab over the last few years, yet sport and commercial lobster opened without being tested beforehand. A recent test has shown the lobster to have some domoic acid, so the State has closed the commercial fishing in the area of the test and issued an advisory to sport fishermen. The season remains open for sport guys. More crab have been sent in for testing and there's a good chance that they could come back clean, but if not, we will probably still get our chance to go.  Maybe.

     In completely unrelated news, it looks like the CDFG Commission is considering reopening abalone in 2021. That's my glass-half-full take on the new regulations under consideration. It could also be that abalone won't even be considered for reopening until at least 2021. I like the first one better.

Monday, October 15, 2018

    David Woodbury sent in this report Saturday night:"Here is a photo of my son DJ with a 16 lb ling he caught just south of Bird Rock this morning." The ling bit a small anchovy. You always hear that big bait equals big fish, but often the fish aren't aware of that rule. Not too many other fish caught over the weekend. Divers took a look at the bar yesterday but didn't see any halibut. Apparently Gage and his buddy caught the last fish there. Or, maybe the red tide and two-foot visibility just made it hard to see them. The first domoic acid test results are in and the results aren't what we were hoping for. Out of 24 Dungeness crab tested from Bodega Bay, three were over the "action level" of 30 parts per million. That's the bad news. The good news is that they were only just over the threshold and the samples were taken at the end of September, so there's time for the crab to clean up.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

    Casey Smith of Loomis went fishing with Gage today, trying to catch a halibut. They tried by Marshall for five hours and finally gave up, heading out to the bar where a boat earlier in the day reported catching lots of sand sole. No sand sole for Casey and Gage, but Casey did catch this 28 pound halibut as a consolation prize. The fish bit a drifted dead anchovy. Casey is dealing with his disappointment as well as can be expected.
    Not too many other fish today. There was one 22" salmon brought in and a few small halibut from Hog Island. There were also a couple more silvers caught near Hog, so be careful back there. It's not impossible to catch a king in the bay but it is way, way more likely that you caught the wrong kind. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

   So here's the picture that had Gage fishing until after dark last night. Matt Shapiro sent in this report:"Hey Willy
I got supremely lucky and happened into (and landed) a WSB double this week on the kayak while trolling for halibut. 15 and 20 poundsish." Yes, a double. Luck probably helped with hooking them, Matt, but it takes more than a bit of skill with that luck to get them both in the boat (especially a kayak). Very nice work. All I caught yesterday was a barely legal and two short halibut by Marshall.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

   For the seven people that don't follow Gage on Instagram or Facebook, here's a picture of his salmon that he caught on Wednesday. For the record, 23 and 25 pounds, green splatterback hootchy behind a green splatterback dodger, 2 lb ball, 30 pulls, 70 feet of water at Tomales Point.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

   While the wind blows today and the boats all remain on their trailers, here's a pic from earlier in the week:"I went out on Friday to take my son (18 month old) Dante on his first fishing trip. He coached me through an intense solo landing/netting adventure for one 27 inch halibut on live anchovies at hog island. Fish was the same size as the kid! 
Mikkel Libarle" It's good that you're starting him early, but it will be harder and harder to catch fish larger than he is. You've got a little time left, though. I found a picture from a few years ago with Cameron, Gage's older brother:
  Dante is cuter, though.

Friday, October 5, 2018

   Well, maybe the bite isn't completely dead. John Brezina caught this 25 pound salmon today, along with a 12 pounder. The few other boats trolling between Buoy "02" and the Trees had some fish (or at least chances at them; sorry, Gage). No magic bullet but hootchies usually seemed to be involved. Some kind of hook glue to keep them attached would be good. Tomorrow looks like a good day to not go fishing with gusts to 40 knots probably scattering the fish. Oh well.
   So that bite died. The bait moved. The weather turned, too. It could all come back, and the bait didn't just evaporate, nor did the salmon. The fish are moving through in little groups on their way to the river and if you and they meet, good (or frustrating) things can happen. As of 10:30 today Gage's on the water report is two hookups on reel screamers that came off.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

   Here's another report from yesterday:"Hey Willy,
  Shortly after talking with you on the beach around 5pm, we hooked into our first salmon right in front of Bird Rock at 24 pounds.  Later found out that it was Katherine's FIRST FISH EVER (picture attached)!  She's never caught a fish before!!!  Had 2 more hookups after that.  One BIG fish that broke the line (never saw it), one smaller 10 pounder that made it all the way to the boat then popped off (poorly hooked).  Headed in at 7pm.
-Brian (in the red RIB)" Nice work, Brian and Katherine. Unfortunately though, Brian, now she may think that this fishing is easy. Hopefully you'll keep making it seem that way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

    I had my Gage moment today, going out and catching my limit in 50 minutes. The fish were about 40 feet down in 60-ish feet of water at Tomales Point. I saw Rich Chapin fighting one as I left but from the radio it sounds like the bite died. As there has been an sporadic bite there for a few days, my guess is that we'll see a few more fish from there before it's over.
   Teo Lally's big one weighed 23 pounds today. The boat had limits. Actually, we only launched four boats today, three limited and one had one limit for two fishermen. Bird Rock was the afternoon bite, although Elephant Rock worked well for one boat. Gage has one in the box as I write this. I'd write more but my wife wants to go fishing, so.... now I can write more. Nicki caught a 20 pound salmon and Alec Bennett (of the Shrimp Boat) caught a 15 pound salmon. The water off of Bird Rock is full of anchovies getting randomly molested by gangs of salmon. Gage pulled a Gage and caught 23 and 25 pound salmon before I could get back out there and is now, as the English say, insufferable. It was kinda rude, as Alec had been fishing there since the early afternoon and hadn't managed to land one (he had hooked a few) and Gage rolls in, puts two in the boat in 90 minutes, and leaves. For the record, Nicki and I waited for Alec to land a salmon at last light before we put one in the boat. The other boat still on the water were yelling at the same time, so I think the fish had gone back on the bite. We didn't stay to find out. Everybody knows the bogeyman comes out at night and I don't want to meet him at sea. For the record, though, best October salmon fishing here that I can recall. Too bad it will surely change with the weather.

Monday, October 1, 2018

    Here's a report from the weekend from Steve Georgis:"Hey Willy. Got these on Friday. Caught a few miles north of the point and Abbots. Got in a half a day on Saturday. Hooked up with 4 nice ones at McClures in 40 and 60 feet. "

    These fellows rent a boat here about once a month. There may have been a trip they made in which they didn't catch a halibut, but I can't recall it. Today they caught one each by Hog Island on live anchovies.

    The word today from the salmon grounds was that the deep water bite fizzled. There were still some caught out off of the Head but it wasn't hot. The Shut Up and Fish gave up on the deep water and came back to Tomales Point, where Teo Lally caught these three salmon to 20 pounds. Will they be there tomorrow? They weren't there yesterday. Chances are not that good for a repeat, especially considering the weather forecast for tomorrow is kinda breezy.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

    So if you followed this blog recently, you may have noticed that I've been talking up Abbott's Lagoon and the deep water (250'+) off of Bodega Head. Tim Nelson and Mike Mack took careful note of my recommendations and, after some consideration, they fished between Bird Rock and Buoy "02". They were barely able to complete their tack between those two landmarks in 50ish feet of water before they had their limits to 22 pounds. It may have taken them 40 minutes. See what kind of knowledge you can gain by reading this report regularly? They spent the rest of their day trying for halibut in the back bay for a grand total of no bites. That part of the day they took my advice. At least the rain cleaned the boat a little.
     The acres of bait at Abbott's Lagoon are still there and there's still fish being caught there and off of the Head if you don't mind some south wind. Some? Maybe more than some. Probably I'd try a bit at Tomales Point for salmon first, but the fish often move quick this time of year, so it seems likely that the fish had moved on by the time I heard the story. It's still worth a half-hour tack, though.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

   Tom Carter caught this nice, 15 pound striper yesterday. It was not the halibut he was looking for (he caught that one, or maybe the grandson of that one, today) but he seemed at peace with the way things worked out. I'm sure any lingering doubts disappeared at dinner. The fish bit a live jacksmelt.

   Looks like the fish counter can catch them, too. Zach and Nick caught three salmon today at Abbott's Lagoon. While the fish bit there all day the bite was way better earlier in the morning. There's anchovies scattered from there to the first parking lot from 30 to 150 feet of water. Most boats, including the commercials, were trolling in 60 to 80 feet of water as the jellies got bad, deeper. There's some nice fish down there, but if you're looking for numbers and don't care about size, try the area around 18 and 8 (38º18' by 123º08') or at least within a few miles of there. Lots of next year's fish. LOTS. Hey, why wait until next year to catch those fish? Waiting is for suckers. Fish too small for you? Just hold it further out when you take your photo op. It works. Don't ask how I know.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

    No pics, but two boats caught four salmon yesterday morning at the Keyholes in 70 to 100 feet of water. Out deeper, 220 to 270 feet, there are lots of next year's salmon, all of them too short for the commercial fishermen and most of them too short for us. A few more halibut were caught near Hog yesterday. Not too many fishermen, so not very many reports.

Monday, September 24, 2018

    I heard of four halibut caught by Hog today. Here's what two of them looked like. These two bit live smelt about two hours before the high tide, near the split channel marker (red/green pole). The other two weren't quite as impressive as these but were caught as a double hook-up closer to the weather buoy. Outside there was one boat that caught a couple of keeper salmon "out deep". They weren't too big, but if you're looking at getting a head start on catching next year's salmon, this could be your chance. Also, Gage tells me that the surfperch had been patiently waiting for him and are still biting well, at least for him.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Here's a report from earlier in the week:"I finally hooked up a flatty after almost 2 years of coming up empty handed. This beast bit a drifting squid 60’ off McLures beach last Monday. She felt bigger but weighed in at 17 pounds even. We had Halibut steaks for dinner the last few nights and my kids said it was the best fish they ever had… although they often say that. Regardless it keeps me fishing and smiling. 

17’ Boston Whaler
‘Djuta Tyde’" That fish looks larger. I'd ditch that scale. There was a 30 pound halibut caught on Thursday by a rockfisherman at Tomales Point, so maybe the cold water isn't keeping the big ones from biting. The bait at Abbott's dried up and the pelicans and whales moved out to 240 feet of water, as well as many, many sea lions. I overheard a commercial fisherman on the radio saying he had over 20 sea lions following him. He was stacking the gear and running away. That's worse than jellyfish.

EDIT: We have a revised report:"
I was tired when I wrote in about the Halibut off McLures… I said it weighed in a #17… I meant #27… Ooops. I thought she for sure broke my #28.25 Flatty record I set back in Sept 2015 off Kehoe beach (along with 2 white Sea Bass #26-#36 that was a good day)…

Anyway I am not going to ditch the scale just yet… I might send my brain on vacation soon… although it seems to go without me more and more these days


Thursday, September 20, 2018

    It was a bit bumpier than forecast today, but there's still a few salmon out there. This 17.5 pound buck was on the inside edge of several acres of feeding birds off of Abbott's Lagoon. The feeding birds and whales could be found from 20 feet of water out to 160, all pretty much in a line. We didn't see much bait on the meter and the jellies were basically untrollable deeper than 80 feet. My fishing partner's stomach wasn't happy with drifting, so mooching was out, but I'd bet that it would be effective if you didn't snag a whale or murre. I also heard of a big halibut today, although where and how it was caught was not told to me. At least the rockfish were still biting in the chilly water. They don't mind the jellies until you pull them into them on the way up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    David White sent in a report from Sunday:"Bennett White took his grandfather Phil fishing yesterday (Sunday) back by Hog Island and caught this 29" halibut on a live smelt.  We saw a couple more caught there before lunch. It was great weather in the am. " It's good to see a family fishing together and even better to see them catching fish. It's also good to see and hear about a few halibut being caught by Hog. Gage went twice on Sunday and didn't catch any, so I assumed that the ocean was dead. Looks like the man was just off his game.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

   After dealing with jellyfish yesterday, Tim Nelson and Mike Mack decided to head for the back bay. There they trolled up a keeper halibut and a 17 pound striper. Best part? No jellies. Gage also found a keeper halibut back there yesterday and is trying for another as I write this. The best chance for a salmon is probably mooching off of Ten Mile and chasing the birds to get the right spot. Bring binoculars. And a towel (for jellyfish, and also because of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

Saturday, September 15, 2018

   Pretty windy this week, although we had a break on Friday with some nice weather. The water was cold and mostly clear, although there were a few patches of leftover red tide scattered around. Mostly, though, there were red jellyfish, and a lot of them. I got a chance to fish for a few hours and we picked up one 12 pound salmon and lost another in 120 feet of water off of Abbott's Lagoon. Both bites came within a minute of the lines being dropped back in after cleaning off the fiery snot all over them. If you fish it you must clean constantly. Wear eye protection. Seriously. It's horrible. You can escape most of the jellies by going real shallow but the only bites I heard of were deeper around the working birds. Good luck if you go. And seriously, eye protection.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

For this year's derby (or Windvitational), our friends over at Shrimpboat Industries made some appropriate trophies. They were awarded along with the cash prizes. There were only 22 fishermen this year due to a combination of my forgetting to mention the derby and the bad weather.

    The Nursements weighed in the first fish with a 12 pounder at 12:30, but just before the 4:00 PM cutoff Kevin Fogal slipped in with a 12.5 pound salmon to claim third place and $250.00.

   Paul Costa found a 17.5 pound salmon in the outer bay today to claim second place and $350.00. Also, a nicer ride home than the guys that ran south.

   Stacy Barton got first place with his 22 pound salmon he caught at McClure's Beach. His secret technique:"I finished heaving and when I looked up the line had released from the downrigger and the fish was on." I need to start chumming, I guess, because I came home empty.

   In a separate ceremony, Gage was awarded a special prize today. Thanks to the Outdoor Pro Shop for helping out with the derby.
   The Coast Guard was really working hard last night and today in a tremendous effort to find the fisherman that fell out of his boat on Friday night. While it didn't seem like they found him, it was clear that they were trying hard to do so. The C130 flew over us all day and you could see helicopters and boats out looking. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the fishermen hurt and lost in this horrible accident at sea.

Friday, September 7, 2018

    How about some mooched salmon? These two limits to 28 pounds were caught while mooching in the middle of the fleet in front of McClure's yesterday. With all of the bait there it made sense to park on it, but it seemed a bit too much like playing shuffleboard on the freeway to me. Too much traffic. Of course, as I came home with nothing, maybe I should have shut off the engine. 

    Here's a report from today from Kelley Roy:"Willy
Last day for me and the “Belly Jean” this year. Found a 17 1/4 pounder down at McClure's with the fleet." Nice way to finish up.
   John Rosasco of Stockton caught this 25 pound salmon at McClure's today. The bait wasn't nearly as thick as it had been yesterday but there were still a few salmon around. Jellyfish are a problem at 80 feet of water and probably deeper but nobody I spoke to ventured past the wall of slime to look. The halibut have been biting well around Hog Island the last couple of days. This weekend is supposed to be windy, so it must be time for a salmon derby. We may change the name to the Merle Lawson Salmon Windvatational. Time to try your hand at overhead netting! Or maybe just let the waves gently wash the fish over the rails and into the boat. Either way, there will be stories.