Monday, April 30, 2018

Kevin Fogal sent me this report:"Willie my cousin Dimitri Fogal, and his wife Teresa caught these 3 keeper halibut along with several shaker halibut 10 miles down the bay today, all on Willie's secret bait! Must be a fluke!!" As Gage will tell you, if my advice works it must be a fluke. There were a few other halibut caught back in the shallows on anchovies, too. Everyone I spoke to with fish had been trolling. Those Flukes will work hooked on a slip rig like a baitfish but seem to work a little better when you use a bait threader needle to pull the line through the nose. Flashers and dodgers are a good idea, too, especially in the murky water back by Inverness. Surf fishermen, be aware that the surfperch were large and hungry this past weekend and we all hope for that trend to continue.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

     I received this photo just before noon today with the cryptic message, "Flukes 3 anchovies 0". I later learned that it meant three keeper halibut in 12 feet of water in the lower end of Tomales Bay and all caught on trolled white Zoom Flukes with purple haze hoochies over the heads. There were a few other halibut caught back there in the past week, mostly shorties but a few keepers. Dillon Beach had a great surfperch bite this morning while the sky was overcast. The fisherman I spoke with had four huge redtails in his bucker and he said he released "at least 60." The perch were biting the Berkley Camo Sandworm, of course. The crabbing in the bay was slow for the Dungeness with catches ranging from 0 to 8. Outside was a little better with the highest catch I heard of being 27 for one boat. The rockfishing has been good, especially at Elephant Rock and further South.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

   Here's a Sunday fishing report:"Here's another flatty picked up this morning. This one came in 2" bigger than the one on Friday at 25", jigging a laser minnow in 8'-9' of water.

Vince" I like those jigging fish. Looks like you've got a good crew, Vince. I heard of a couple of other halibut on Sunday, all in the way back. There was also a striper hooked and busted off on surfperch gear from the beach. There were some rockfish brought in over the weekend but the ocean water wasn't as nice as anyone hoped for. The folks that went out on Saturday earned the few fish they caught.

    Here's a quick Ed Parsons fish story:"Not real big but it's a start to the season.  Water was 61 degrees , 20' deep at the change." I'm liking the depth in that report. There's a lot more 20' water in the bay than 8' water and the 8' water was going to get awful crowded. Now we just need a few bass sprinkled into the mix.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

   Here's the first photo sent in to me today. 24" and caught "in the deep, 7 feet of water." Just texted me of another (barely) keeper and a short returned. Trolling anchovies and Zoom Flukes.
   Update: Limited out with a 26.5" final fish. You've got to watch out for those marine biologists that fish because they have all of that extra learning. Fish don't stand a chance.

Friday, April 20, 2018

    Here's a quick word on the halibut in Tomales Bay :"Caught this little hallelujah this morning down by Chicken Ranch. 
My fishing buddy caught a shaker that let go at the boat as well. 
Surface water was about 60 degrees.

Fish and Game told us there was another about this size caught in the same area this morning as well.
Things are heating up!

FYI, DFG frowns on taking clam limits for you and your spouse in the Hog Island eel grass, as some uneducated soul found out the hard way.


That sounds like two tickets at least. Clamming is open but digging for someone else is not, nor is disturbing the eel grass. You can't eat the clams, either, so unless you are using them for bait it is a waste of game, another ticket.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

     No pictures from the rockfish opener here, probably because nobody in Tomales Bay was willing to try crossing the bar with the 9 to 12 foot swell. No wonder the crabs are so hungry. Not so hungry that people are limiting out but there's a few getting caught. Gage showed me a picture of a halibut caught by a kayaker fishing in the bay (Matt Shapiro, send me a picture!) but I have no other info on it. The weekend weather forecast looks decent for in-the-bay fishing but not too hot for any rockfish pictures.

Friday, April 13, 2018

   More good news! Rick Murphy sent a follow-up report:"Hey Willy, we picked up a couple today, had 4 or 5 shorty’s, a nice one come undone at the boat and a lot of scratched baits. Seen another boat get a few also, from Marshall to just past the marina, the marina having the most action.  Water was 58 to about 61. It’s picking up"
   Looks like a damp opener for rockfish on Sunday, but I'd worry more about the wind than the rain. The Southwest wind is only supposed to blow 5 to 15 but it seems like the South wind has a hard time staying below the forecast numbers. If nothing else, the dropping barometer and overcast skies should have the surfperch biting, or so my perch whisperer tells me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

So who likes good news? First, this:
Recreational Canary Rockfish Bag Limit Increases Effective April 14

Canary Rockfish 
photo by V. Okimura, courtesy WDFW
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces a statewide increase to the recreational canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) daily limit within the Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling (RCG) bag limit. The sub-bag limit for canary rockfish will increase from one fish to two fish within the RCG daily bag limit of 10 fish, effective Saturday, April 14, 2018.
Limited retention of canary rockfish in California's recreational fishery began last year as a result of the stock being declared rebuilt. Because retention of canary rockfish had been prohibited in recreational fisheries off California for more than a decade, a one fish daily sub-bag limit was implemented as a matter of precaution. Catches were monitored weekly to ensure harvest limits were not exceeded.
"We saw great fishing in 2017 and higher than expected effort for rockfish," said CDFW Environmental Scientist Joanna Grebel. "Despite this, catches of canary rockfish under a one fish bag limit were less than predicted. We are excited to be able to offer additional fishing opportunity in 2018."
Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make in-season modifications to the recreational fishery, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits.
CDFW encourages anglers to avoid known yelloweye rockfish hotspots when pursuing canary rockfish. Yelloweye rockfish cannot be retained and stringent annual limits on yelloweye rockfish bycatch mortality remain in effect for California's recreational groundfish fishery in 2018. Bycatch mortality of yelloweye rockfish is monitored during the fishing season and modifications to regulations could be made if mortality amounts reach annual limits.
For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management, stock status information, fish identification tools, and current catch trends, please visit the CDFW Marine Region Groundfish website

Then this on salmon:
Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco) : 

June 17-October 31. Open seven days per week. All salmon except coho may be retained, two salmon per day. Chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. See gear restrictions and definitions. 

In 2019, season opens April 6 for all salmon except coho, two salmon per day. Chinook minimum size limit of 24 inches total length; and the same gear restrictions as in 2018 .

Other good news includes a report of a 22 pound halibut caught last Friday in the rain off of Tom's Point (The hardcore angler is supposed to be sending a photo), the Dungeness crabbing in the bay doesn't completely suck and is fair or better outside, and the surfperch bite is still pretty good. Here's a perch report:"Water cleared up after the storm..perch were chomping non stop in the evening before the tide switch..Even caught a lil flattie. Cheers! Jeff Hunter"

   The flatty in question here looks like a sand sole which would make it a keeper and darned good eating..

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Steve Smith sent in a follow up report:"5 nice ones and left them biting!" Gage also had a good afternoon on the beach, bringing home eleven perch and released another two dozen. I was fishing with Gage as the bite started but then I mistakenly answered my phone. I will leave it at home next time. I left Gage as the bite took off. At least I caught a few. Gage did tell me that it's not like I missed the best bite ever, "probably only my third or fourth best bite." Dammit...

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Rick Murphy sent in this report today: "Trolled from Hog to the back nothing started back north nothing, decided to call it pulled one rod in when the other went off. 22” around chicken ranch.Wish we had went straight to the back." Nice job Rick. A little further back the water shallows up to 6 to 8 feet and if it is murky enough might be even better for catching. It worked before, at least.

So, earlier today I said that the surfperch fishing was spotty. Steve Smith reports, "Hey Willie, Got this 15" fat boy at Dillon this afternoon. Pre storm had em biting. Small sand crabs were the ticket. All fish released. I'll try again tomorrow afternoon"  I'm told that the overcast gets them biting. Or,  it could just be Steve.

  It sounds like the halibut are biting well in San Francisco Bay but here in Tomales Bay the big bite hasn't kicked off yet. A few have been caught but in the last couple of weeks I haven't spoke to anybody that caught one. There's not many people fishing for them, though, so that could be part of it. The water temperature near Hog Island is borderline, bouncing back and forth from 56º to 58º in the last few days. If I were going to go (and I probably will be, next week) I'd try further back in the flats near Inverness. The water warms from the top down, and in 6 to 8 feet of water the bottom is closer to the top. Assuming not too much fresh water input from the creeks (which may be going to happen this weekend) and water that's not gin clear, those 20" to 24" halibut that were back there last year should bite in 60º-ish water. If you go, be aware that there is a submerged fenceline that will ruin your boat and day if you hit it. Here's a map:
    Salmon season opens below Pigeon Point on Saturday but we will have to wait until at least June 9 or later for our chance. A decision on the season will be made during the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting of April 5-11. Stay tuned...
     The surfperch bite has been spotty and the only ones consistently getting them are the ospreys. The Dungeness crabbing has been slow as usual but they're still getting caught. Here's a report from the weekend by Bodega Jack:"Just a quick note that there are still a few crabs around.  We (Ted Rebello) and I picked up two limits of "barely legal" to medium size Dungeness crabs on an overnight soak in the outer bay to supplement our Easter dinners."

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What day is it?

This was sent to me today. Hopefully this means we'll have a good tuna year this year. Probably it means nothing. Looks good, though.