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.

Monday, September 3, 2018

    Teo Lally of Lodi caught this 23 pound salmon today, along with...

    ...this 22 pound halibut. The rest of his fishing team from the Shut Up and Fish got to share the frame on this picture. These fish came somewhere in the vicinity of McClure's Beach, but the exact location and depth was not shared. 

   Kevin Fogal and Dennis Carter on the Predator caught three yesterday and four the day before, all between Buoy "02" and Elephant. 

    Mitch Hamilton sent in this Tomales Bay report from yesterday:"Pretty good day with grandson Travis and son in law Brandon back by Hog Island, two other shorts released and a large keeper lost at the boat. I think it would have been even better if we could have caught more bait." Looks like you guys did pretty well with what you had.

    Here's another bay report, but from Saturday:"Picked up South side of yellow buoy in by houses in 20 feet. Live shiners from pier for bait."
     So, I kinda forgot to mention that next weekend, Saturday September 8, is the Merle Lawson Salmon Derby. It's open to anyone but you need to get entered before you launch and have your gutted salmon weighed in at the Lawson's Landing store by 4:00 PM. Entry is $50.00 per person and everyone on the boat needs to be entered. At least there's some fish around this year, so maybe we'll have ourselves a competition. 
     I just got back from a short Alaska trip. I finally got to experience tractor launching up there. I gotta tell you, ours at Lawson's is a lot easier.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

    First off, here's the picture to go with Harvest Time's report in the comments two days ago. In case you missed it, "We collected a 24#, 22#, 18#, 15#, and 10# for 3 guys Wednesday in same chocolate water at north end of McClures. Best salmon trip so far for Harvest Time." Very nicely done, Steve. They probably can't see your shirt in that chocolate milk. Maybe don't wear it next time, as the wind is breaking up the brown muck and replacing it with, yes, cold, clear water.

   This 20 pound salmon was caught yesterday by Nico Lombardi of Lodi. He caught limits for himself and his grandfather and was back before noon, and more importantly, back before the wind picked up.

    Kelley Roy sent me this photo this morning:"Willy
Halibut monkey off my back. 2 in the box. Herman is still carrying an ape on his back. Just off sea wall 

Cheers" I didn't hear how they finished up, but hopefully Herman has de-monkeyed himself.